Mark Grayston explains how building owners can now guarantee air conditioning that has less global warming potential

If you are in anyway involved with the world of air conditioning then you will know that there is a drive to lower the global warming potential (GWP) of the refrigerants used in the systems and you should therefore know all about the relatively ‘new kid on the block’ – R32.

R32 is not actually new though as it makes up 50% of the existing R410A refrigerant already found in many current air conditioning systems. It is also highly energy efficient and is easy to recycle.

The reasons behind this move to a new gas used inside air conditioning is all to do with a piece of legislation called the F-Gas Regulations, which dictate how refrigerants should be used and handled with the ultimate intention of stopping any from being released to the atmosphere.

The majority of current air conditioning systems use R410A which has a GWP of 2,088, when compared to the base unit of carbon, which is seen as having an impact on global warming of 1.

R32 has a GWP of 675 – around a third of R410A … and the systems also contain less refrigerant within them, so the overall GWP is much lower for R32 air conditioning over R410A.

We see this development as being all about choice

Mark Grayston Mark Grayston Head of the Product Marketing Department

The market is ready

As an industry, we’ve already seen the majority of room and split-type air conditioning move from R410A to R32 over the past year or so, with most installers now well versed in the small changes needed to install and commission these systems.

But larger air conditioning units, known as VRF or Variable Refrigerant Flow systems, have not been available on R32 – until now!

The air conditioning industry has been looking for a viable answer to using R32 in larger systems, which is why we developed the unique R32 Hybrid VRF solution, enabling R32 to be used in larger applications.

Hybrid VRF uses water as the heat transfer medium and therefore removes refrigerant from the majority of the system – which makes it ideal for situations where leak detection would otherwise be needed such as hotels.

For larger applications where leak detection is not required, the launch of the City Multi YNW R32 VRF system now means there is now a straightforward alternative in many situations where air conditioning has currently relied on R410A, such as open offices and retail.

It also means that businesses can now guarantee that they can use lower GWP refrigerant in almost any situation.

Future-proof

Our industry has seen changes in refrigerants before and we will see them again in the continuous drive to reduce the global warming impact of systems. This is all part of the F-Gas Regulations and it is important to note that this is a ‘phase down’ and not a ‘phase out’.

And this is where R32 has a really important role to play in helping businesses transition during future changes over the next 10-20 years, as it can be mixed with even lower GWP gases to reduce the impact further.

R32 is a single component refrigerant, meaning it is easier to reuse and to recycle. It is also relatively inexpensive to produce, is easier to handle because it doesn’t separate and utilises familiar technology, keeping costs similar. R32 is also low-toxic and although it is mildly flammable and classed as A2L, it is extremely difficult to ignite.

So, R32 allows businesses to continue providing comfortable places for us all to work, shop and relax in, whilst complying with the latest legislation and being able to enhance their own CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) with equipment using a refrigerant that minimises the effect on climate change.

The choice is yours

The new range of R32 VRF systems offer both heat recovery and heat pump variants to deliver lower GWP for large air conditioning systems.

It joins the extensive line up of split-type R32 air conditioning systems and means that for the first time in the UK, businesses can use one single lower GWP refrigerant across a complete building or an entire network.

As a responsible manufacturer, we see this development as being all about choice. The industry already offers an extensive range of energy efficient and flexible R410A air conditioning

This addition of R32 VRF, combined with the extensive R32 split-type systems – And R32 Hybrid VRF offering the ability to remove any need for leak detection, means there is a flexible, energy efficient and controllable solution for just about any building.

Whether CSR is high on their agenda, or whether lifecycle cost or capital cost are more important, there is now a complete choice available.

Mark Grayston is Head of the Product Marketing Department.