Refrigerant R290:The Moment of Highlight
R290, or propane, is a natural hydrocarbon refrigerant that can be obtained directly from liquefied gas. In contrast to synthetic refrigerants like freon, natural refrigerant R290 does not contain chlorine atoms in its molecules, so it has zero ODP and does not damage the ozone layer. In addition, compared with HFCS, which also do not damage the ozone layer, R290 has a GWP value close to zero, which does not contribute to the “greenhouse effect”.
R290, which is perfect for both GWP and ODP, has been unable to reach the mainstream market due to controversy over its classification as an A3 combustible refrigerant.
Happily, this barrier has loosened in 2022.
In May 2022, IEC said on its official website that the draft IEC 60335-2-40 ED7, Special Requirements for Heat Pumps, air conditioners and dehumidifiers, was unanimously approved. This means that the IEC standard has been unanimously approved to increase the charging limits for R290 and other flammable refrigerants in household air conditioners, heat pumps and dehumidifiers.
According to IEC 60335-2-40 ED7 standard, the reporter interviewed Li Tingxun, associate professor of Sun Yat-sen University and member of WG21 working group. He explained: “In calculating the maximum charge of A2 and A3 refrigerants, IEC 60335-2-40 ED7 adds a consideration based on the actual situation of the product to the original very inflexible calculation formula. “Companies can appropriately increase the maximum amount of A2 and A3 refrigerants to 988g through safety measures such as improving the air tightness of their products and adopting a circulating airflow design.”
Driven by this, R290 refrigerant has made significant progress in the heat pump industry. First, a requirement for R290 refrigerant was added to the compressor standard for heat pump water heaters. Then, on January 1, 2023, Germany’s new federal fund support measures for green and energy-efficient buildings came into effect. The fund aims to subsidize the upgrading of heating systems in built environments. To benefit from this subsidy, heat pump products must have a COP of 2.7 or above and be filled with natural working medium. At present, the natural working medium charged by European residential heat pump equipment is mainly R290. With the implementation of this subsidy policy, heat pump products using R290 will be widely promoted.
Recently, a technical seminar on R290 refrigerants and heat pumps was successfully held. Both Emerson and Heli are active promoters of the R290 technology. At the meeting, Emerson officials said that with its extensive experience in R290 refrigerant technology, Emerson has developed a series of valley wheel vortex R290 compressors, covering constant speed, frequency conversion, horizontal, vertical, low noise, etc., which can provide targeted technical solutions to meet the application needs of different heat pump market segments in Europe. According to Heli, with more than ten years of development and research in the field of heat pump, Heli launched a number of R290 heat pump compressors for the European market. The product is not only environmentally friendly, but also features ultra-low GWP, ultra-wide operating range, high reliability and high efficiency. It provides solutions for the European heat pump market in an all-round way and continues to help Europe’s green energy transformation.
September 7, 2022 is also an important date for R290 refrigerant. On this day, the world’s first new energy efficiency level 1 air conditioner with R290 refrigerant was rolled off the production line in Wuhu factory in the United States, providing a new idea for the industry to achieve the goal of “double carbon”. It is understood that the APF of the new R290 energy efficiency level 1 frequency conversion air conditioner successfully developed by Midea reached 5.29, exceeding the national new energy efficiency standard of energy efficiency Level 1 by 5.8%, with large 1HP and 1.5HP two models, this series of products also obtained the industry’s first health certification certificate.
At the same time, R290 refrigerant is making progress in clothes dryers, ice makers and other fields. According to the data provided by the China Household Electrical Appliances Association, ice machine products in the recent one to two years almost all converted to R290 refrigerant, the annual output of about 1.5 million; The market size of heat pump clothes dryer R290 products has also increased rapidly in recent years, accounting for 80% in 2020, with the output reaching 3 million units.
In 2023, with the “two-carbon” goal, the R290 refrigerant with its low carbon aura will only become more popular.
(Article source: Electrical Appliance Magazin)