Parked Auto Sends Refrigerant Signals

February 19, 2007
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A car at the booth of Honeywell at a stationary a/c expo: It was all part of the ever-changing refrigerant equation.

DALLAS - Why was an automobile parked at the booth of a refrigerant manufacturer at a trade show best known for its focus on stationary a/c? It had nothing to do with a raffle, nor did it have anything to do with NASCAR.

The auto at the 2007 International Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo) booth of Honeywell International Genetron Refrigerants (www.genetron.com) had a new air conditioner refrigerant that the company was promoting as an example of its efforts to continue to respond to constant change in the refrigerant sector.

In addition, in the long term, that refrigerant could well have an impact on those who work on stationary a/c.

The still proprietary refrigerant was being developed for use in automotive air conditioning as a replacement for the more commonly used HFC-134a.

According to recent information in a technical publication from Japan, “A new so-called H-fluid developed by Honeywell and intended as a drop-in replacement for R-134a is currently being validated for toxicity. Performance tests showed cooling capacities and COP closely comparable with R-134a in the external temperature range. Global warming potential (GWP) is around 10 compared with 150 for 134a.

“The fluid is an azeotropic blend of a newly synthesized molecule (1,1,1,2 tetrafluoropropene) and trifluoromethyl iodide.”

The key to all this relates to efforts in Europe to phase out the use of R-134a in automotive air conditioning. According to reports, R-134a is due to be banned for all new cars in Europe in 2011. R-134a was one of a number of HFCs that came under attack from some sectors in Europe due to perceived high GWP. The move to a new refrigerant for automotive air conditioning that has a GWP considerably lower than R-134a is in response to pressures in Europe over high global warming gases. (DuPont and other refrigerant manufacturers are also working on low-GWP refrigerants for automotive.)

As is common throughout the industry, there are those who voice concern over the long-term viability of HFC refrigerants with high GWP, and they see lower GWP gases as finding possible use in stationary equipment some time in the future.

For now, the stationary sector in Europe and the United States remain committed to a wide range of HFC refrigerants noting that when contained in a leak-tight system, they pose no environmental hazard. So far governmental agencies have gone along with the industry in the use of such refrigerants.

Officially at the booth of DuPont Refrigerants (www.usa.dupont.com) the focus was on what the company said was, “HFC retrofit solutions gaining rapid acceptance in the U.S. market.” The company was specifically citing its line of Isceon® 9 Series refrigerants that are HFCs able to work with mineral oil and targeted by DuPont for the retrofit market.

In another refrigerant development related to HFCs with mineral oils, ComStar International (www.comstarproducts.com) had spec sheets on R-426A (which it labeled RS-24), described as a blend of R-134a, R-125, butane, isopentane; and R-424A (RS-44), with a blend of 125, 134a, n-butane, isobutene, isopentane. The company also showed several other refrigerants.

The range of refrigerant offerings at the booth of ICOR.

DISTRIBUTION, COMMUNICATION

In general, those at the expo said the pipeline for refrigerants appears to be fairly full. Speculation on when the industry might experience a shortfall in HCFC-22 continues to revolve around 2015.

Among those in the distribution pipeline:

National Refrigerants (www.refrigerants.com) showcased what it called “a new look” at the expo. “NRI has redesigned each of (its) product lines in modern, color-charged design” while still retaining the original logo, company officials said.

Regarding the pipeline, NRI said it had “a full range of refrigerant gases in every container size for immediate shipment.”

Refron (www.refron.com) used the expo to note that for five consecutive years it has a 100 percent pass rate at Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) random purity testing as a measure of the quality of refrigerants it sells.

Attention at the booth of ICOR International (www.icorinternational.com) was on its training programs regarding refrigerants including the newest to enter the market, and its Tech-2-Tech free phone-e-mail services in which technical assistance is provided in troubleshooting a service problem or answering a range of questions posed by the caller.

A sort of wheel of fortune at the booth of DuPont draws attention to the variety of refrigerants on the market.

THE CHINA FACTOR

Another element at the expo was the presence of several companies based in China that were offering refrigerants for sale. One called T.T. International Co. Ltd. (www.chinarefrigerant.com) had a range of refrigerants but booth officials said its R-22 and R-134a produced in China were available for worldwide shipment at a competitive price.

The presence of the Chinese companies seemed to be taken in stride by other exhibitors in Dallas. That was in contrast to the previous major HVACR expo, the IKK, last October in Nuremburg, Germany. At that expo, Honeywell obtained a preliminary injunction from a court in Duesseldorf, Germany, to stop an exhibitor in Nuremburg - the Zhejiang Fluorescence Chemical Co. (which was not listed as an exhibitor at the AHR Expo) - from “offering, selling, owning or importing R-410A.” The court action came because of what Honeywell said was an “infringement of its (Honeywell’s) intellectual property portfolio worldwide.”

The preliminary injunction became a more final default judgment at the end of December and Honeywell used the AHR Expo in Dallas to formally announce the latest development.

Officials also used the Dallas show to restate its efforts regarding infringement issues. “Honeywell takes infringement of its intellectual property very seriously,” said David Diggs, global business director. “Honeywell remains committed to taking all appropriate action to protect its intellectual property.”

OILS

Parker/Virginia (www.parker.com) displayed Suniso® mineral oil. The Suniso GS brand of napthenic-based mineral oil is for use with CFC, HCFC, and some nonfluorocarbon refrigerants, including ammonia. Under low temperature applications, Suniso retains much of its flow char­acteristics, and has an extremely low wax content, the company said. “The oil also features very low moisture content and will not contribute to the two major causes of compressor damage: sludge and acid.”

The company also featured Emkarate Polyolester (POE) lubricant “for any refrigeration system, espe­cially for those systems using HFC and HC non-chlorinated refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-507.”

Publication date: 02/19/2007

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