The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), ASHRAE, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are collaborating to fund research on flammable refrigerants. According to AHRI, the research will aim to establish a more robust fact base about the properties and the use of flammable refrigerants.
This $5.2 million research program is part of an ongoing global effort to phase down the use of high-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and identify appropriate climate-friendly alternatives. Of the total, DOE is contributing $3 million, ASHRAE $1.2 million, and AHRI $1 million.
In anticipation of a global plan to phase down high-GWP refrigerants, the industry has spent the past five years researching potential alternatives. Through that effort, several promising refrigerants were identified, many of which are low toxicity, but are classified as mildly flammable or flammable. This new research program will provide the technical knowledge needed to facilitate and accelerate the safe use of these refrigerants.
The results of this research will immediately be transmitted to the committees responsible for ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 15-2013, Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems, and ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 34-2013, Designation and Safety Classification of Refrigerants, with a goal of using the results to update the standards as soon as possible, subject to full compliance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus process.
The International Code Council (ICC) has stated that these revised ASHRAE standards will be eligible to be fast-tracked into the international codes, in accordance with ICC procedures.
"ASHRAE has a strong history and commitment to refrigerants, having written our first standard on the topic in 1919," said David Underwood, ASHRAE president. "We have continued our work in this area since that time, publishing the industry's leading standards on refrigerants [Standards 15 and 34] as well as conducting hundreds of research projects on the topic. As such, ASHRAE is fully committed to this project. In fact, the funds we are using for our share represent the largest transfer from our Research Reserve Fund in our 122-year history."
"AHRI is extremely grateful to ASHRAE, DOE, and the ICC for their commitment to accelerating the introduction of suitable alternatives to high-GWP refrigerants," said Stephen Yurek, AHRI president and CEO. “Our member companies, some of which produce refrigerants and others of which manufacture the highest quality air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment in the world, can use the results of this vital research to continue in those missions, but in an even more environmentally friendly way."