ComStar International Inc. has made several announcements related to hydrocarbon refrigerants. First, ComStar said that it and its China JV company will begin offering appliance and air conditioning compressors in the U.S. and overseas markets for HC-441a. The compressors are made in China by Hangzhou Maidi Heating & Refrigerating Equipment Co. Ltd. under the Silekan brand name. Each compressor will be ETL approved to OEM specifications.

Related to this was the announcement that Energy Star testing of R-441a for residential refrigerators is on going. ComStar is licensed as the exclusive U.S. manufacturer and distributor of R-441a. It is being promoted as an energy-efficient blended hydrocarbon refrigerant that operates on approximately 25 percent of what a normal charge of HFC-134a would be in an appliance or automotive cooling system and at 40 percent of a HCFC-22 charged appliance.

Steven P. Mella, ComStar’s CEO, said, “While ComStar offers the RS series of HFC alternative refrigerants for in-place R-22 systems, it is inevitable that hydrocarbon refrigerants are on the verge of coming into the U.S. market. As a result, ComStar has entered into agreements with Richard Maruyu, the creator of R-441a, to manufacture and distribute this blended hydrocarbon refrigerant (also known as HCR188C). It is the first hydrocarbon refrigerant to be approved for sale in the United States by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. R-441a is EPA SNAP approved for use in household refrigerators, freezers, and window air conditioners. It has the ASHRAE certification as being considered non-toxic. R-441a operates with mineral oil. While R-441a is flammable, the very small amount of this climate friendly refrigerant required in appliances or automotive cooling systems makes the risk assessment a non-factor.”

ComStar is now producing limited quantities of R441a at its certified refrigerant production facility in south Texas. 

A.S.Trust & Holding also has a patent on a refrigerant safety service port valve that could be used on larger systems. This valve was invented by Maruya and George Whitmyre and operates by shutting down the system when there is a drop in operating pressure.

The second announcement from ComStar is that OKA Australia, designer and manufacturer of the “OKA” brand of special purpose 4WD on/off road vehicles, has selected a hydrocarbon refrigerant for its production line vehicles. In addition, the entire line of European-built AVIA trucks, distributed by Reymer Pty Ltd., parent company of OKA Australia, will shortly go on sale and will also be equipped with hydrocarbon refrigerants.

Andy Granger, Reymer Pty Ltd.’s head of marketing and business development, the manufacturer of OKA trucks and buses said, “Compared to fluorinated gas alternatives, the vastly increased chilling performance of a blended hydrocarbon refrigerant has many advantages for a commercial vehicle manufacturer.

“For example, we are confronted with increasing levels of heat rejection from engines - an unfortunate side effect of making engines more emissions friendly. The engine and cooling system are directly below the driver’s cab so ultimately some of that heat ends up soaking into the cab structure. The increased performance of hydrocarbon refrigerants more than compensates. Furthermore, the addition of emissions control systems means that we have less space in which to package chassis and cab equipment. Using a hydrocarbon refrigerant, we can gain performance points without having to increase evaporator or compressor size.”

Publication date:05/16/2011