As R-22 Supplies Disappear, Contractors Scramble for Replacement Refrigerants

next-generation refrigerants R-22 alternatives
(Photo Credit: Ernest McGray, Jr., Flickr Creative Commons)

As the ozone-depleting refrigerant gas R-22, also called HCFC-22, gets phased out around the world, demand is rising for alternative refrigerants. And, as end users look for replacement refrigerants, energy efficiency is a factor.

“Replacement refrigerants are going to continue to grow in demand over the next 10 years,” predicts Douglas Reinke, CEO of the McClellan, California-based Bluon Energy, which makes a replacement refrigerant for HVAC-R equipment called TdX 20.

Production of R-22 — chlorodifluoromethane — causes ozone depletion and production is currently being phased out. This has contributed to the refrigerant industry being in a state of flux over the past few years.

Stefanie Kopchick, North America marketing manager, refrigerants, for the Chemours Company, told ACHR News early last year that she expects commercial refrigeration contractors and comfort cooling technicians to feel pressure to reduce their dependence on R-22. Chemours, a DuPont spinoff, makes the R-22 replacement Freon MO99.

In October 2016, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) approved Bluon Energy’s TdX 20 refrigerant. The company’s CEO Reinke says the refrigerant, which replaces R-22, saves money while increasing energy efficiency.

Describing how the product works, Bluon’s website says that five constituents phase change in a carefully orchestrated sequence. “Visualize a 500-meter sprint, with one runner doing all the work, versus a five-runner relay in which the work is divided and passed from one runner to the next, allowing each runner to carry more speed and take on less pressure,” according to the company.

Bluon published a chart showing a 5 to 25% energy efficiency increase with their product compared to an R-22 baseline.

Last May, Bluon announced that the company joined the New Energy Opportunities Network, an online platform managed by Schneider Electric, which can help connect them with commercial and industrial companies looking for energy efficiency and sustainability solutions.

Reinke said at the time that switching from R-22 to Bluon’s TdX 20 could save a 100,000-square-foot office building tens of thousands of dollars in electricity costs per year as well as cut 100 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

“Global regulations will see the end of R-22 importing by the end of 2019, with supply shortages virtually certain to show up in 2018,” Reinke said recently. “Because of this, R-22 replacements are quickly becoming a part of regular HVAC maintenance.”

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