Mildly flammable A2L refrigerants dominated the agenda and the conversation at the third Climalife IDS Refrigeration customer event of the year in Warwickshire.
Managing director Allan Harper and the Climalife team welcomed customers, partners and guests to a packed and informative day which also featured presentations from refrigerant manufacturer Chemours and leak detection specialist Bacharach.
Regarding growing concerns over the trade of illegal refrigerant, he said he was aware of a small amount imported into the UK and said: “The price may be right but don’t do it, and please report it. Every kilo of product that we supply is under quota and of the highest quality. We have got what you need for today and tomorrow.’’
Some contractors felt the recently improved availability (and subsequently lower price) of R404A made it more difficult to persuade end users to make a change, even though the use of virgin R404A is banned in just over 12 months. But Climalife technical director Peter Dinnage, talking about the move to lower GWP, said the transition needs to keep going and increase in preparation for the next big quota stepdown, 30% at the end of 2020. He said: “We stock 36 refrigerants at Climalife and we thought some of them would have disappeared this year. Once we are familiar and comfortable with A2Ls, they will become a standard. We need to get on and use them.
“We have two years to get ready for the next step. I know some people will wait for the cliff to happen again, but they shouldn’t, as it will lead to price increases again. We need to start moving now and not wait as we did the last time.’’
At this year’s Chillventa, the major compressor manufacturers launched equipment and components which are A2L ready, with more expected over the coming months. Climalife stocks a wide range of low GWP refrigerants including A2Ls such as R32, R452B, R454A, R454B, R454C, R455A, R1234yf and R1234ze and will continue to update the industry on new products coming to market. It also stocks and can advise on a range of low GWP alternatives to R404A, R410A, R407C and R134a.
Neil Roberts, technical development manager at Chemours, presented the company’s Opteon range of refrigerants. He accepted that it was difficult to persuade customers to change when R404A was readily available, but said: “Don’t be fooled by the apparent calm at the moment; we need to keep moving forward as the next dropdown will be even tougher. Always use the lowest GWP product that does the job to protect the quota, not the most convenient. If you can, use A2Ls because that gives us the headroom to supply the industry smoothly.’’
Refrigerant price increases have encouraged the industry to get smarter on leak detection and Tom Burniston discussed Bacharach’s semiconductor and infra-red options, including the new MGS-400 series which was launched at Chillventa and should be available shortly. Climalife’s UK head of sales Dave Richards, meanwhile, focussed on the indirect Matelex solution, which takes measurements every 2-3 seconds and can provide an excellent early warning system and be used to improve and monitor energy efficiency and give a rapid payback.
Peter Dinnage looked at the importance of pairing the correct oil with refrigerant type, with options from Mobil and a new Icematic range for low GWP due to be available in the near future. He also examined how the use of secondary heat transfer fluids can reduce the primary refrigerant charge, with the correct choice leading to increased energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. He said the plant-based Greenway Neo is around 40% better on CO2 emissions and energy use than traditional MPG-based fluids and features long-lasting organic corrosion inhibitors.
Climalife's Steve Gatenby presented Carel’s range of electronic expansion valves, electronic valve drivers and other AC and refrigeration controllers, mentioning they can already be used with A2L refrigerants.