R32 is one of the more recent refrigerant gases, used mainly in air-conditioning. Up until a few years ago it was considered a major step forward in the battle against global warming, but recent findings about the state of the earth’s atmosphere have led Europe to take steps to protect itself through various new legislation.
One directive included in this new European legislation, entitled EU f-gas regulation (517/2014), states that in order to combat the problem of global warming, the total amount of gases released into the atmosphere must be reduced by 80-95% by the year 2050.
This has led to the need to find new types of refrigerant gases, so that the GWP (Global Warming Potential) – the index used to measure the impact of a substance on global warming) – will continue to fall. This is a tough challenge, but one which some people have already started working on, with the first trials already underway.
An overview of r32
The introduction of r32 in air-conditioning systems is certainly not a recent development. This gas was previously used in heat pumps, mixed with R410A in a proportion of 50:50.
However, the construction of more advanced air-conditioning systems, in which r32 alone may be used, is more recent and has definitely reduced the environmental impact of this now indispensable equipment. It has been calculated that the GWP of r32 is only 675, which is three times less than that of R410A.
Another parameter which illustrates an interesting aspect of this gas is its low flammability, classified as A2L according to the international standard ISO 817:2014. This characteristic means that the risk of domestic accidents is considerably lower compared to other types of refrigerants used in the past, making r32 more reliable and almost risk-free.
After r32: new technologies and objectives
The Japanese air-conditioning manufacturer Daikin recently raised the game by declaring their intention to develop a new refrigerant gas, with a GWP of around 10 or less, with a flammability level similar to or even lower than that of r32.
This challenge, although somewhat Utopian, has made quite an impact on the air-conditioning sector, leading other companies to take steps in the same direction as the Japanese multinational.
The company’s CEO declared that r32 has always been accepted as a medium-term (almost make-shift) solution. However, he also admitted that there are many obstacles to be overcome, both in the manufacturing of a product with the desired qualities, in order to test it and make it available for domestic use.
The estimated timescale is rather long; in fact, it is estimated that the development and testing phases alone could take around four years, plus a few years for the development of devices which would be compatible with the new mix.
The likely date when the first usable results from the tests currently underway will be available is expected to be 2023. There is already some speculation about the possible composition of the new refrigerant. Some suggest that it could be pure HFO, while others believe it to be a combination of HFC-HFO.
In any case, the director of Daikin has said that he is already confident that new refrigeration technologies will be developed, which will subsequently also be used also in air-conditioning systems in the not too distant future.
- The state-of-the-art on Refrigerants, A Cavallini, Professor Emeritus, University of Padova, Italy Partner, Manens-TiFS SpA, Padova, Italy
- Daikin: “R32 alternative some years away” https://www.coolingpost.com/world-news/daikin-r32-alternative-some-years-away/
- Daikin looks to replace R32 in 2023 https://www.coolingpost.com/world-news/daikin-looks-to-replace-r32-in-2023/
- DAIKIN SVILUPPERÀ UN NUOVO REFRIGERANTE A BASSO GWP ALTERNATIVO ALL’R32 https://industriaeformazione.it/2019/05/30/daikin-sviluppera-un-nuovo-refrigerante-a-basso-gwp-alternativo-allr32/
Translated by Joanne Beckwith