China: what refrigerant to replace HCFCs?

In December 2011, the China Household Electrical Appliances Association (CHEAA) issued China’s first industry technology roadmap. For the refrigeration industry, the roadmap aims to increase energy efficiency by 20% by 2015, and by 2020 by another 15% above 2015 levels. Regarding refrigerants, it plans to reduce the consumption of HCFC-22 by 10% compared with the average amount of 2009 and 2010 by widely adopting low-GWP refrigerants such as R290 (propane) by 2015 and R744 (CO2) by 2020.

China’s two important air-conditioning manufacturers, Gree and Midea, have released their research and application results regarding alternative refrigerants. Gree claims to have set up the world’s first R290 split-type air conditioner demonstration production line. Key Midea products using R290 have passed quality testing and manufacturing standards, and are ready to be commercialized.

R32 (difluoromethane), which has been listed as one of the main alternatives to R22 in the Chinese HCFC phase-out management plan, especially for room air conditioners (see Newsletter of the IIR No. 48) is - despite its higher GWP (675) - the option preferred by air-conditioning manufacturers such as Daikin who emphasize its lower flammability vs R290 and consider that R32 is the optimum refrigerant for room, packaged and other split-type air conditioners.

JARN, October 25, 2011