Reasons for the Increasing Demand for Energy-Efficient Replacement Refrigerants
Air conditioners have become more of a necessity in our lives rather than being a luxury. Global warming has increased the overall temperature of the earth and every family wants at least an AC in their house, not to mention the offices that have central AC installed. What people didn’t realize is that the AC that they were using somehow added to the global warming that was taking place. It happened because of the use of HCFC gas that became a major reason for depleting the ozone layer.
Ever since it was discovered that the refrigerant used in the air conditioners were indirectly harming the environment and that too in a significant way, it was decided that the AC manufacturers need to change the refrigerant and make it greener and more energy-efficient. This brought R22 refrigerant into the mix. This was one of the most advanced refrigerants in the 90’s because it was much more energy-efficient and the experts were of the opinion that it was safe for the ozone layer too. However, after using this refrigerant for nearly two decades, it has been found that the leakage of the R22 gas has a tremendous effect on the ozone layer.
Why refrigerants create havoc in the environment?
ACs are known for their leakages if they are not maintained properly. But, you cannot do away with the refrigerants too because they play a vital role in the HVAC industry. The chemicals that are chosen as refrigerants often decide how the compressor will work, the COP, and to what extent it will affect global warming. Some of the most commonly used refrigerants are methyl chloride, carbon dioxide, ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and water. One of the reasons why all these substances were deemed as dangerous is that they are flammable and toxic. That is the reason why CFC refrigerants were introduced instead of the typical HCFC gas that was earlier used in the R22 refrigerant. The global warming potential or GWP was much higher in HCFC refrigerants. Comparatively, the R410A refrigerant that uses CFC gas has an almost negligible amount of GWP.
AC manufacturers have now started the use of CFC refrigerants in their units. Better alternatives from http://www.bluonenergy.com are still on the cards that will replace the traditional HCFC and CFC refrigerants once and for all keeping in mind the performance of the AC. Many natural refrigerants have been suggested such as NH3, hydrocarbons, and CO2 that have zero GWP and ODP. These are being considered as the long-term replacements to HCFC and CFC refrigerants. When air conditioners first came into the limelight, the manufacturers did try to use the natural ingredients. But they were rejected because of their flammability and toxic nature. With the increase in technology and the improvement of the AC structure and functioning, there is a silver lining that someday natural refrigerants will completely replace the CFC and HCFC refrigerants and put a stop to all the environmental destruction that has been caused by ACs.
General features of AC refrigerants
The features of the refrigerant used in an air conditioner are important because they indicate how safe the gas is to the environment. Here are some of the most important properties of AC refrigerants given below:
- The boiling point and freezing point of the refrigerant should be really low.
- It should have very low GWP and zero ODP.
- The refrigerant should be non-corrosive, non-toxic, non-explosive, and non-flammable.
- There should be low specific volume so that the refrigerant can reduce when it enters the compressor.
- The gas should have high latent heat and low specific heat. This is because high heat helps to decrease the refrigerating effect of the refrigerant whereas the high latent heat combines with the low temperature to increase the refrigerating effect of the refrigerant.
- Large power consumptions have often been a concern for AC users. That is why you will notice there are star-rated ACs available. This shows how energy-efficient they are when they run. The refrigerant should have high critical pressure so that it can avoid huge power consumptions.
- The gas used should have a high COP when it works. It means that the system has the ability to reduce the running cost of the unit.
Use of Vapor Compression Refrigeration (VCR) system
Experts are on the lookout for better alternatives to the refrigerants that are used now. This has brought the study of using various refrigerants into the picture. The concept followed the use of a simple Vapor Compression Refrigeration so that it can identify which refrigerant will be ideal to replace the conventional refrigerants. In fact, it is the study and research that helped to bring forward the use of the R410A gas that is now used in almost every air conditioning unit.
Various tests are also done to make the ACs more energy-efficient. The Vapor Compression Refrigeration system is the base for the trial and error method. Now that a solution has been presented for the refrigerant part, it is time to check how much this system will be valuable in deciding the energy-efficiency of the AC.
There is an ongoing test where the operation of refrigerant is being checked. It is being used for a long period of time to see if the system is able to meet the desired load and if the compressor is getting affected in any way. This will help to understand how much load the unit can take in one single flow. Accordingly, the load of the unit will be adjusted.
The fight to improve the refrigerant in the ACs is real. Everyone has become aware of the environment and how the refrigerant adds to the ozone layer depletion. This has also increased the demand for energy-efficient units so that people do not have to think about using the air conditioner for longer periods of time. The greener side of the story is that the experts are trying to bring in natural refrigerants that will abolish the CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This will make the ACs energy-efficient and also save the environment to a great extent.