Vic Marinich, Global Marketing Director—Air Conditioning for Danfoss. With 30 years of experience in the HVACR industry and at Danfoss for 20 years, Vic is currently responsible for setting the global strategy with regards to line components, heat exchangers, and controllers. Vic holds a bachelor’s from Rutgers University and an MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University.
In this episode of the Envisioneering Exchange podcast, host John Sheff and guest Vic Marinich, the Global Marketing Director for Air Conditioning at Danfoss, take a look at the current landscape of refrigerants for air-conditioning applications (from R-22 to R-410A, to R-134a and beyond). Later in the podcast, they discuss the phasedowns of high-GWP refrigerants as well as the emergence of flammable and mildly flammable refrigerants.
- R-22 was the standard for decades, but as of 2020, R-22 is no long being manufactured.
- Despite the refrigerant no longer being produced, R-22 is still available on a market to service existing systems.
- While the industry moved away from R-22 due to its affect on the ozone layer of the atmosphere, replacements refrigerants, such as R-410A, substantially increased the effects of climate change.
- The Significant New Alternatives Program (SNAP) rule 21, which was originally put in place to control the amount of CO2 produced by chillers, was found to be outside the purview of the EPA.
- However, several states in the United States Climate Alliance have adopted SNAP 21, most notably, California.
- The industry is moving away from A1 (mildly toxic, nonflammable) refrigerants and towards A2L (mildly toxic, mildly flammable) refrigerants. Because safety is the number one concern, A/C systems have historically used A1 units. However, California will require a GWP of 750 for residential A/C systems beginning in 2023, which isn’t possible with most A1 refrigerants. Despite this, building codes have not been updated to reflect this change, making it difficult for users to adjust.
- Europe’s F-gas regulation is a few years ahead of the US and already allows the use of A2L refrigerants.
- Chillers in the US use R-410A or R-134a almost exclusively (both refrigerants will be banned under SNAP 21).
- While A3 (mildly toxic, highly flammable) refrigerants are commonly used in residential and small commercial refrigeration units, the amount of refrigerant they use is about equal to a standard cigarette lighter, so any risk of ignition is incredibly low. Conversely, residential and commercial A/C systems require several pounds of refrigerant, meaning that A3 refrigerants are unlikely to be used.
- The only approved A1 refrigerant that meets the 750 GWP limits is the recently introduced R-466A. However, the refrigerant is so new, it’s unknown how will it break down over time. R-22 was originally chosen because it was stable, nontoxic, and nonflammable and it was only later discovered the affect it had on the ozone layer. So, it’s important to remember that every refrigerant has a trade off.
- While California’s 750 GWP is ambitious, it is not the end goal. Ultimately, we are headed towards systems operating at a 300-350 GWP level.
Subscribe to the Envisioneering Exchange podcast wherever you listen to podcasts.
Listen to the full podcast on Soundcloud here
Listen from YouTube
For more information and additional episodes of the Envisioneering Exchange podcast, visit https://www.danfoss.com/en-us/about-danfoss/insights-for-tomorrow/envisioneering-exchange/