The company expects to start using in-house manufactured R290 compressors at the beginning of 2023.
India-based manufacturer Godrej Group has started developing its own propane (R290) compressors, said Narendra Shedge from Godrej & Boyce’s air conditioning R&D center.
Shedge shared this during a session on air-conditioning trends at the Green Cooling Summit, on May 26.
Godrej started the development process in mid-2020 and expects to start incorporating the R290 compressors in its own air-conditioning products at the beginning of 2023, according to Acharekar Abhijit, Deputy General Manager of the R&D center. This is subject to “adequate evaluation and reliability testing in the field,” Abhijit added.
The first models the company is working on are rotary compressors, in the 1TR to 1.5TR (3.5 to 5.3kW) capacity range.
“There are very few compressor options available for R290; also development in these areas is not at the desired pace for improvement in energy efficiency,” Abhijit explained, when queried about why Godrej has embarked on this R&D journey.
Godrej introduced its first hydrocarbon refrigerators back in 2000 – the first Indian company to do so, according to Shedge.
The first R290 air-conditioning unit from Godrej was launched in 2012, and in September 2018, Godrej was able to announce at the ATMOsphere Asia conference that the company had sold 600,000 R290 room air conditioning units (RACs). In 2020, Godrej built a new production line, and thus expanded its production capacity from 180,000 units to 400,000 units a year, Shedge said during his presentation.
Earlier this year, Godrej launched a new “super efficient” and anti-viral R290 RAC. “Available in super-efficient 5-star energy rating, these are a definite upgrade in terms of energy efficiency over our previous models,” Santosh Salian, Product Group Head – Air Conditioners, Godrej Appliances, said at the time.
Godrej was also a finalist in the Global Cooling Prize competition to develop and RAC unit that is 80% more efficient that current standard units. Godrej’s candidate was using evaporative cooling alongside R290 refrigerant.
Godrej’s prototype completed the testing phase of the competition, but “ultimately, in my opinion, [Godrej was] materially hampered by the charge restrictions” on hydrocarbons in residential air conditioners, said Ian Campbell from the Rocky Mountain Institute, co-organizer of the competition.
On the connection between the company’s work on the Global Cooling Proze and compressor development, Abhijit said “R290 compressor development and Global Cooling Prize activities are two different developments, but we do incorporate learnings of our projects into each other for betterment of the projects.”
“There are very few compressor options available for R290, also development in these areas is not at the desired pace for improvement in energy efficiency," - Acharekar Abijit, Godrej