The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) discussed the findings of a three-year research program on alternative refrigerants. AHRI hosted the Low-Global Warming Potential (GWP) Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program (AREP) Conference on January 16 in New York City. Twenty technical experts presented the findings.

The first phase of the program concluded in December 2013, and all test reports issued to date are available on AHRI’s website.

“The program identified and tested 38 low-GWP refrigerants either single component or blends,” said Karim Amrane, AHRI’s vice president of regulatory policy and research. “Their GWP values are significantly lower than their baseline refrigerants, namely, R-22, R-134a, R404A, and R-410A, which are commonly used in the field.”

The performance of some new refrigerants was tested in compressors and/or in a whole system as pure drop-in refrigerants. To understand their potential performance improvement, some systems were modified for alternative refrigerants using standard production line components. Eighteen air conditioners and heat pumps, five chillers, five commercial refrigeration equipment systems, 24 compressors, one bus air conditioning system, and one transport refrigeration system were tested.

The program began in 2011 as an industry-wide cooperative research initiative in response to environmental concerns raised by high-GWP refrigerants. It sought to identify promising low-GWP alternative refrigerants for major product categories including air conditioners, heat pumps and heat pump water heaters, dehumidifiers, chillers, ice makers, and refrigeration equipment.

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