Two Japanese companies, air-conditioning designer Fujinetsu and chiller manufacturer Meiwa, exhibited for the first time a new jointly developed prototype of a propane (R290) chiller for air-conditioning applications at the HVAC&R Japan 2022 trade show, held from February 1-4 in Tokyo.

The prototype, the first to be developed, has successfully completed cooling-capacity tests, according to two representatives of the companies — Seiko Yamauchi, Group Leader of the Refrigeration Design and Development Department, Meiwa and Taizo Hirooka, Design Manager of the Design Department, Fujinetsu. They plan to conduct controls testing for one year and field testing for another. “The final goal is to launch the product on the market in April of 2024,” Yamauchi and Hirooka said.

The unit is specified to be available in 5 types with a cooling capacity ranging from 3.6-5.6kW (12,283.20-19,107.20BTU/h) and a heating capacity ranging from 4.0-6.3kW.

In cooling mode, the unit is specified for a chilled water inlet temperature of 12°C (53.6°F) and an outlet temperature of 7°C (44.6°F) at an ambient temperature of 35°C (95°F).

In heating mode, the unit is specified for a hot water inlet temperature of 40°C (104°F) and an outlet temperature of 45°C (113°F) at an ambient temperature of 7°C (44.6°F).

According to the companies, the response to the R290 chiller at the exhibition was “positive” due to the system’s environmentally friendly design and the steps taken to minimize risk of R290 leakage. The companies intend to sell the R290 chillers to businesses looking for air-conditioning solutions for small-sized spaces such as break rooms in food-processing facilities.

The main issues the companies face in developing the system is improving the COP, supporting defrost operation, testing the refrigerant-leak safety systems, and reducing manufacturing costs. In addition, Fujinetsu said that it intends to “thoroughly train its employees and enable them to install, maintain and inspect the R290 equipment.”

“The final goal is to launch the product into the market in April 2024.”

Fujinetsu and Meiwa

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