Refrigerant Allows Use Of Mineral Oil In Retrofits

October 31, 2001
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ICOR International's NU-22.
INDIANAPOLIS, IN — The eventual demise of HCFC-22 has caused the industry to look for alternatives. The most popular ones are HFC-based refrigerants that either require a new set of equipment or, at the least, an oil change.

But what if there was a way to make an HFC refrigerant that works with mineral oil?

ICOR International is in the process of introducing NU-22, billed as “a direct replacement for R-22.” According to the company, it does not require any oil change or system modification for use with existing R-22-based systems.

“For hvacr manufacturers, servicemen, distributors, and consumers, NU-22 is the most practical choice for the replacement of HCFC-22,” said ICOR president Jim Tieken.

The refrigerant has an ASHRAE designation of R-417A and consists of 50% 134a, 46.6% 125, and 3.4% 600 (butane). The company said the refrigerant is A1 in terms of toxicity and flammability safety.

The 125 and 134a allow for the new refrigerant to be used “with wide temperature ranges,” said ICOR’s Gordon McKinney. The butane provides “for adequate oil return” when used with mineral, AB, or POE oils, he said.

McKinney said the refrigerant could not be used in centrifugal chillers.“Everything else so far is fair game,” he said. “We are confident in this product. It has been tested for several years in Europe.

“But, first we want to educate people before anybody runs out and uses it.” Mailings have been going out to oem’s, distributors, component manufacturers, contractors, and tech schools. Seminars are being scheduled throughout the United States. And a technical presentation has been put together in print form and on the company’s website (www.icorinternational.com).

The company plans to start out with 10-lb sample cylinders of the refrigerant. The product was shown at the RSES International Conference in Milwaukee, WI, and will receive a major push at the AHR Expo in Atlantic City, NJ.

ICOR officials hope 417A will reduce the reliance on R-22, an HCFC scheduled for phaseout. The retrofit procedures include the removal and recovery of R-22, performing regular service procedures, pulling a 500-micron vacuum, then charging the 417A as a liquid on the high side. Officials said the new refrigerant is charged to a 1:1 ratio with the old refrigerant.

NU-22 is subject to the same issue of glide as other 400 series refrigerants. In reality, ICOR officials said, the glide issue is not raising the concern it did 10 years ago. Said ICOR’s Jim Terry, “We like glide, because it makes the evaporator more efficient.” Added McKinney, “Glide is generally good, and our training materials make it clear when it is not and what to do about it.”

R-417A is not designed to be used as a retrofit for R-410A, the current choice among oem’s for new air conditioning equipment.

For more information, contract ICOR International at 800-497-6805.

Publication date: 11/05/2001

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