The global air conditioning market contracted again in 2016, a new BSRIA report reveals, but growth is expected to resume this year.
Climate change, greenhouse effect and global warming – scarcely any other issue is so omnipresent and so controversially discussed in the 21st century. Those who are convinced in doubting that climate change is man-made refer to various eras in the history of our planet where the earth has heated up or cooled down drastically even without any contribution on our part. In future too, they see climate change as the result of natural causes, including among others a changed ellipsoid orbit of the earth around the sun.
The decision as to which refrigerant should be used in a refrigerating or air-conditioning system is based on the major criteria of safety, costs and environment protection. But against the background of constantly increasing energy prices, the energy consumption of a system also plays an increasingly important role. Ideally, the chosen refrigerant should have excellent thermodynamic properties, high chemical stability and good physical characteristics. Furthermore, it should have no or only a negligible impact on the environment, while also being inexpensive and available worldwide.
Refrigerants: changes are coming. Now is the time for facility managers to start looking to the future
Facility managers count on efficient, safe refrigerant solutions to provide cost-effective comfort to building occupants. Today, future refrigerant options are being discussed. Alternative refrigerants are under development; a few are already on the market. With an upcoming refrigerant transition, now is the time for facility managers to learn about what’s changing and why. Facility managers who educate themselves now will be in a better position to make the best equipment choices in the future based on refrigerant safety, efficiency, reliability, cost, and availability.
The ban on the use of R134a in mobile air-conditioning systems within the EU has triggered a series of research projects. Apart from the CO2 technology (page 35), new refrigerants with very low GWP values and similar thermodynamic properties as R134a have been developed.
The world’s most lauded environmental treaty could be about to notch up a new success. In 1974 scientists discovered that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCS), chemicals used in refrigeration and as propellants in products such as hairsprays, release chlorine into the stratosphere as they decompose. This depletes the ozone that protects Earth from ultraviolet radiation. CFCS are also powerful greenhouse gases, which absorb solar radiation reflected back from the planet’s surface and so trap heat in the atmosphere.
Fluorocarbon refrigerants are synthetic chemicals which usually have a high global warming potential, and some still have the potential to cause damage to the ozone layer as well if released to the atmosphere.
When refrigeration and air conditioning equipment is installed, serviced, repaired and dismantled, safety issues need to be carefully evaluated and considered particularly when servicing technicians have to deal with refrigerants with properties that they were previously not familiar with. It is therefore important that the refrigeration and air-conditioning industry adapts to both the technical and safety issues concerning these refrigerants.