A recurring theme in refrigeration over the years has been efforts to bring equipment running on hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants to the United States market. The first foray in this regard has been to establish a beachhead in domestic refrigerators, as such equipment running on the HC propane is common in Europe. Once an HC is accepted in the U.S. domestic market, the next push will be for commercial refrigeration applications.

Now comes the announcement from A.S. Trust and Holdings that a refrigerator using HC refrigerant will be assembled in the United States with the hopes such a product could eventually reach households in the country.

“Energy-hogging refrigerators will soon have to step aside and face retirement, as the first-ever green household refrigerator, running on an all natural climate-friendly and energy-efficient refrigerant, will be produced in limited quantities in the USA,” said Pamela Waterman of EngineeringInk Technical Editorial Services in a press announcement released in November 2010. “The world of cooling may never be the same.”

Called the 188, because that is part of the name of the refrigerant it uses, “this green refrigerator is the first product to tap the revolutionary improvement in cooling technology offered by the climate-friendly hydrocarbon refrigerant HCR188C1, developed by Hawaii businessman and inventor Richard Maruya, of A.S. Trust & Holdings,” said Waterman.

 The refrigerant is a patented blend of ethane, propane, butane, and other hydrocarbons. According to the A.S. Trust announcement, the refrigerant has been certified by Intertek (an independent testing laboratory) as having zero Global Warming Potential, as well as zero Ozone Depletion Potential, “and is the first hydrocarbon refrigerant approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for sale in the USA.”

It has been designed to replace HFC-134 in domestic refrigerators.

At the time this story was being written in December 2010, developers were waiting for the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) to officially announce the designation of the refrigerant as R-441A.

According to the release, A.S. Trust & Holdings is finalizing energy reduction efforts on the 188, a standard 21-cubic-foot home refrigerator/freezer, and will be submitting it for Department of Energy (DOE) EnergyStar ratings. Current results show that the required refrigerant-charge amount of HCR188C1 is approximately 25 percent the amount of R-134 by volume. Upon completion of the energy reduction program, Maruya will be arranging for assembly of the refrigerator in the United States, under the Climate Friendly 188 brand, noting, “We are proud to say that producing this energy-efficient refrigerator will keep Americans employed.”

Maruya has been working on this refrigerant for more than 15 years and holds U.S. and worldwide patents.

Future target applications for the refrigerant include home air conditioning systems, commercial/industrial air conditioning systems, automotive/vehicle air conditioners, and refrigerators, freezers and beverage-vending machines, according to A.S. Trust.

For more information, contact Maruya (richard@astrust.com) or visit ComStar International, distributor of the refrigerant, at www.comstarproducts.com.

Publication date: 01/17/2011