Coolers and Concerns
Manufacturers Report on Refrigeration Developments
A couple of manufacturers in the refrigeration sector are making announcements of developments in that sector.
Coolers for Submarines
Mainstream Engineering Corp. (www.mainstream-engr.com) of Rockledge, Florida, a 28-year-old Brevard County manufacturer, said it has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Navy to develop a silent electronics cooler for submarine applications.
“As shipboard control electronics continue to evolve, electronic systems inevitably incur hardware changes, which often require costly and time-consuming sound recertification processes,” the company said in a statement. “To avoid this recertification process, the Navy needs to have a silent electronics enclosure. To meet this need, Mainstream developed and demonstrated a silent active thermal management system for Ohio-class submarines. The focus of the current program is to transition the prototype hardware to production. “
The company also announced that it has been awarded a contract from the Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency (DARPA) to improve the power-density of existing Stirling cryocoolers.
Cooling to cryogenic temperatures improves the efficiency and operating life of many electronic communication transceivers, the company said in a statement. “Stirling cryocoolers are common in these applications because of their high efficiency and long, maintenance-free operating life. However, existing Stirling cryocoolers do not meet the size and weight requirements of many applications.”
Mainstream said it has identified a method to make a significant improvement to the power density of Stirling cryocoolers, particularly in aerospace applications.
The refrigerant manufacturer ICOR (www.icorinternational.com), which makes HFC-based refrigerants, is drawing attention to HC gases. The company’s concern is over refrigerants entering the market that have not been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Here are extended portions of the statement from the company’s Gordon McKinney:
“From the onset, the federally mandated phase out of R-22 has been rife with controversy, and the confusion created by fluctuating prices as well as the never-ending supply and demand uncertainty has left refrigerant distributors, users, and equipment owners, extremely vulnerable.
“A number of obscure companies have been selling HCFC-22 alternative refrigerants that are marketed as ‘natural refrigerants’ and ‘drop-ins’. They boast that these refrigerants are ‘inexpensive’, ‘do not require any certification to purchase’, and ‘can be mixed with R-22’. The truth is that these so called natural refrigerants are comprised primarily of highly flammable gases such as propane.
“The FBI has recently issued a warning to be on the alert for refrigerant substitutes that have not been approved by the EPA. Reports are on the rise worldwide of explosions, fires, and severe injuries, including fatalities, as the result of these flammable refrigerants being used in unapproved ACR applications. In 2013 the EPA took action against at least one U.S. company for selling an unapproved flammable refrigerant, yet many believe that without an increased enforcement effort, this problem will lead to even greater safety hazards and tremendous liability issues.
“There are safe, and well established, non-ozone depleting refrigerants that are EPA approved for servicing R-22 systems in a wide range of applications. However, some HVACR product distributors and refrigerant users have been lured into supporting inferior products because of their cheap price. Along with the many hazards that flammable refrigerants pose to users and equipment owners there are a few other ‘cheap’ R-22 alternative refrigerants being misrepresented, and subsequently misapplied, that are leading to serious losses in system efficiency and compressor failures. Such products are relatively inexpensive, but are not suitable for use as a direct replacement for existing R-22 applications without changing the mineral oil to POE oil and flushing the line sets.
“The long term liabilities associated with selling and using hazardous or inferior R-22 replacements are causing many to realize that cheap options are very seldom the best options.
If you know of anyone distributing or using flammable refrigerants in unapproved applications or non-EPA approved refrigerants and counterfeits, notify the FBI or the EPA immediately. Doing so will save lives.”