As the only manufacturer that develops and manufactures both air conditioners and refrigerants, Daikin launched the world’s first residential-use air conditioner using R-32 refrigerant.
Various refrigerants have been used in air conditioners until now. Regulations have increasingly become stricter from greater consideration for the global environment because of the Montreal Protocol in 1987 and the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. This has resulted in a shift to refrigerants with even lower environmental impact.
Although the mainstream refrigerant R-410A has an ozone depletion potential (ODP) of zero, its global warming potential (GWP) still remains an issue.
While R-32 also has an ozone depletion potential of zero, the refrigerant has only approximately 1/3 of the GWP of R-410A. Consequently, investigation of this promising next generation refrigerant has increased.
However, because R-32 had been an extremely difficult refrigerant to handle, its use was not practical until now. Daikin became the world’s first company to succeed in applying R-32 to air conditioners by leveraging its expertise as the only manufacturer that develops and manufactures both air conditioners and refrigerants.
Currently, R-410A is the refrigerant most commonly used in developed countries. However, if all R-410A were converted to R-32, the impact to global warming from HFCs in 2030 would be reduced by the CO2 equivalent of approximately 800 million tons (19%) compared to the continued use of R-410A.*2
Values for 100 year global warming potential (GWP) from IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. Comparative 100 year GWP: HFC410A, 2,090; HFC32, 675.
Daikin calculations based on thesis, Velders et al, PNAS (2009), World Meteorological Organization (WMO) library.
The situation regarding all hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), including the refrigerant gas R22, is that as of 1st January 2015 its use will be illegal within the EU due to European regulations.
R22 refrigerant is commonly found in refrigeration systems, notably air conditioning units and heat pumps (both for swimming pools and for space heating). Whilst it has not been used in new systems since 2004, it became most significantly affected within the EU in 2010, when it was no longer able to be bought as new, and could only be used or bought as reclaimed or recycled. Over the last 4 years it has become increasingly harder and more expensive to come by.
So what happens to units with R22 refrigerant after 1st January 2015?
As after this date units cannot be topped up with R22 in any of its guises – new, recycled or even reclaimed – there leaves only 2 possibilities:
1. Replace the unit, or
2. Use a replacement refrigerant
There are a variety of factors to consider about what to do in the event of a breakdown of a unit using R22 refrigerant, such as:
· Age of the unit
· Likelihood of future recurrence
· Cost of the repair
· Availability of spare parts if required for future breakdowns
· Manufacturer’s advice regarding compatibility of their system with replacement refrigerants
Our advice is to base one’s decision on the cost of the repair in hand. If relatively inexpensive to replace the refrigerant, then it is worth doing, however, with manufacturers not required to maintain stocks of units beyond 10 years of their date of manufacture, it must be recognised and taken into consideration that the next breakdown could be irreparable due to lack of availability of spare parts. To avoid throwing good money after bad, unless relatively inexpensive, we would generally recommend to our customers that they would probably benefit in the medium and long term by opting for a replacement system. Here are some of the benefits of this strategy:
– Higher reliability of new systems
– Higher efficiency / energy savings
– Lower service costs / warranty on system
– Reduced carbon footprint