Hydrocarbons are set to be included in the new U.S. government-backed $5.8 million research programme on flammable refrigerants in autumn 2016, a representative of the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) told hydrocarbons21.com.
“The first research on hydrocarbons will begin this fall. Additional research will follow,” said Monica Cardenas, senior director (communications) at AHRI.
The U.S. government is working together with AHRI, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), and the state of California to conduct research on mildly flammable (A2L) refrigerants as low-GWP alternatives to hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioning and refrigeration applications.
The overarching objective of the research is to support the acceleration of updated safety standards to allow more extensive use of low-GWP alternatives to HFCs and HCFCs not just in the United States but also at global level.
Earlier this week, hydrocarbons21.com reported that hydrocarbons (categorised as A3; flammable refrigerants) had been left out of its current scope, with confusion apparent among industry players over how the programme would unfold in practice.
A manager at a prominent U.S. systems manufacturer suggested that funding is at the heart of the matter. “The AHRI and ASHRAE money is only for A2L research. It doesn’t allow to do A2 or A3 refrigerants,” he said.
‘No extra funding required for A3’
AHRI’s Cardenas responded by stressing that, “extra funding is not required”. "The total funding for the programme will be used to support research of both A2L and A3 refrigerants,” she said.
“The first phase of the first project focuses on A2L refrigerants, but it will expand to include A3,” Cardenas explained.
“Programmes are made up of several projects. One project has started, at UL, and will test both types of refrigerant. There will be many projects as part of the overall programme,” she further clarified.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is contributing $3 million in funding, while ASHRAE and AHRI are contributing $1.2 million and $1 million respectively. A further $500,000 comes from the state of California, with Johnson Controls putting up $100,000.
The research will focus on benchmarking risks from leak and emission testing, assessing flammable refrigerants’ post-ignition risk, determining charge limits, and producing a guide to handling and servicing A2L refrigerant-based HVAC&R equipment.
The results will be used to update the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 15-2013 (Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems) and ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 34-2013 (Designation and Safety Classification of Refrigerants).