Yesterday I did a post about the upcoming meeting in Dubai to discuss the phase out of HydroFluroCarbons. Well, before we can phase out HFC refrigerants we need to have a suitable replacement product. The refrigerant industry is moving towards HydroFluroOlefins, or HFOs, instead of the alternative natural refrigerant such as CO2, Propane, or Ammonia.
There is already an HFO replacement, 1234YF, for the R-134a refrigerant that is in wide scale production and is being used throughout the European Union. Another common HFC refrigerant, R-404A, also has a direct HFO replacement out known as R-452A. That only leaves one big HFC refrigerant left needing a replacement, and it’s a big one.
It seems like just yesterday we were switching everybody over to R-410A systems but now it seems that 410A systems will be going away before we know it. The Chemours Company, formerly DuPont, has come out with a new HFO R-410A replacement known as DR-55, or under their brand name of Opteon XL55.
What are the benefits of this new HFO refrigerant? How does it compare to 410A? Does it still operate at the higher pressure level? Can it be dropped in or will retrofitting be required? I pulled this information from the official Chemours site and it can be found by clicking here.
- DR-55 is non O-Zone depleting.
- This seemed like it would be a given since all of the hassle we went through in the 90s and 2000s on CFCs/HCFCS.
- DR55 has a lower Global Warming Potential, or GWP, compared to it’s HFC 410A counterpart.
- R-410A has a GWP of 2,088 whereas DR-55 has a GWP of 698. That is an over sixty percent reduction.
- It is important to note that yes, DR-55 has a lower GWP than R410A but it still has a rather high GWP and it will most likely be replaced by something new and better in the future. The goal here is to get the GWP number as low as possible.
- Low Flammability – This has been an on-going concern on the new HFO refrigerants. Daimler, and some other German manufacturers, have expressed concern on the R-134a HFO counterpart 1234YF due to it’s flammability.
- Five percent more efficient than R-410A refrigerant.
- Direct replacement for R-410A units, no retro-fitting required.
Last week the company Trane showed the first ever air cooled demonstration chiller with the new DR-55 HFO refrigerant at the International Conference of Refrigeration in Yokohama, Japan. At this time DR-55 is being evaluated by the HVAC industry and government agencies for use in residential units. Once approved it is expected units could start shipping in twelve to eighteen months. It may take some time before we begin seeing DR-55 here in the United States but I would predict it will start picking up popularity in the Asian markets and potentially in the European Union.
All in all I believe DR-55 could be a viable alternative to the R410A. The question is how long will it be before DR-55 is replaced by something new and shiny? I might be a little cynical here but it seems like every few years we find something wrong with the current refrigerant that we are using. If DR-55 does become a common replacement I predict it will only be around for ten to fifteen years before the next new thing comes along promising better environmental protection.
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