It has been well documented that the F-Gas Regulation is going to create a problem for those still needing R404A in 2018 unless they take action this year and next to lessen the impact. Various trade associations and refrigerant producers have highlighted the impending issues and If you are still in any doubt of the need for action to replace R404A, we recommend you look at the EPEE Gapometer presentation.
Implications for R404A
The first step is to decide which refrigerant you want to use and then how to use it. As always there is a choice of alternatives.
Lower GWP alternatives to R404A
R407F, also known as Genetron® Performax™ LT, has been around for a while now and is in widespread use both in new and existing equipment to replace R404A in a wide range of applications for the commercial and industrial sectors. It’s a refrigerant blend of R125, R134a and R32, with a GWP of 1825 just over half that of R404A at 3922. Whilst it is used in supermarket applications it is also used in cold stores and food processing applications that have previously used R404A.
Users have been pleased with the energy saving benefits witnessed compared to R404A and there are numerous case studies that have verified the energy savings achieved compared to R404A. These savings tend to be greater in medium temperatures applications.
Some customers have also reported that Performax™ LT has also been easier to detect for leaks than R404A, which is a positive insight when you consider the importance placed on on minimising leaks and conducting regular leak checks by the F Gas regulation. Experience of using R407F is also widespread across Europe.
Understanding differences between R407F and R404A
Performax™ LT (R407F) works well in both medium and low temperatures systems, however when evaporating down below -30ºC its higher discharge temperature may need to be taken into consideration for the design of equipment in question. For new equipment it is also advisable to check line sizing, etc. Electronic expansion valves are readily available for use with R407F (Performax™ LT) however in most cases it can operate on a R404A valve; at worst a change of orifice may be required.
Pressure temperature tables are available in various forms and it features on many of the popular free slide rule apps that are now available for smartphones.
A number of compressor manufacturers approve R407F and it can be found in their design software for use with their products. There is also no need for an oil type change as it works with POE oil, the same as R404A, although please remember that if you are retrofitting to follow the conversion guidelines and when changing refrigerant it is good practice to also change the oil and put a fresh charge into the system.
The potential energy savings compared to R404A are well highlighted in case studies. This alone has been the driver for some end users to change from R404A, however, with the need to significantly reduce the bank of R404A there may be other more pressing reasons very shortly to change. It’s important that we as an industry move away from using R404A soon and Performax™ LT (R407F) is one of a number of favourable replacement options.
Do also speak to refrigerant specialists, such as ourselves, to review all the options that are available to you and ensure it is the right choice for your particular system.
Next month we will cover other R404A alternatives with a lower GWP.