The project aims to demonstrate the feasibility, safety and commercial viability of an innovative ‘monobloc’ residential air-conditioning system using R290.
LIFE ZEROGWP, an EU-funded project, is developing a double-duct air-conditioning system for residential use that would replace R410A refrigerant with propane (R290).
INNOVA, an Italian company specializing in systems for climate comfort and HVAC, is the leader of the project consortium, which includes the University of Padova (Italy), Studio Fieschi & Soci (Italy), and IVAR CS (Czech Republic). Initiated in July 2018, the project will last until June 2021.
“The ZEROGWP project aims to demonstrate that it is possible to replace HFCs with hydrocarbons thanks to technological R&D,” said Oreste Bottaro, general manager at INNOVA.
The “monobloc” system developed by the project features a hermetic cooling circuit that is not split, so it does not need to be connected to refrigerant pipes during the installation phase with the risk of possible leaks. In addition, as a monobloc product, the quantities of refrigerants used are very low. And since it does not need an external unit, it is suitable for urban areas, with zero aesthetic impact on buildings.
“Our system allows at the same time to reduce the quantity of refrigerant used and to make the application safer, as it does not need installers to connect it,” said Bottaro.
The main challenges encountered in moving from R410A to R290 dealt with the compressor and the heat exchanger, explained Matteo Campidelli, R&D Manager at INNOVA. “For the compressor, we identified the most efficient and convenient components together with our suppliers,” he said. “The optimal configuration of the heat exchanger is still under analysis in our labs: various tests are ongoing to improve the efficiency of our product.”
"Thanks to the LIFE funding programme, the European Union supports initiatives of private companies and public entities to improve the environment in which we are living,” commented Angelo Salsi, LIFE Head of Unit at the European Commission. “The system developed in this project will allow us to benefit from more sustainable heating and cooling.”