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    October 24, 2022

    5 steps to prepare for the transition to low-GWP refrigerants

    Are you prepared for the environmentally friendly transition to low-GWP (global warming potential) gases? Read this article for 5 steps you could take to prepare for the transition to sustainable low-GWP refrigerants in your products.

    Low-GWP refrigerants are increasingly replacing high-GWP refrigerants – and this is a good thing looking at it from an environmental perspective. But there is a downside because, contrary to high-GWP refrigerants, low-GWP refrigerants are often flammable. This means that manufacturers transitioning to low-GWP are facing new requirements for safety testing to ensure consumers can safely use the product. This article outlines 5 steps you should consider.

    1. Research and gain an understanding of the relevant standards affected by the use of low GWP refrigerants

    The international standard IEC 60335 covers the requirements for electrical and electronic household appliances. In the standard’s part 1, the general requirements are covered, while the supplementary requirements for the specific types of devices are covered by part 2. More than 100 devices have been called out in part 2.

    Below we have listed some of the most relevant part 2 standards that will affect companies transitioning to low-GWP refrigerants.

    • IEC-60335-2-11: Particular requirements for tumble dryers
    • IEC-60335-2-24: Particular requirements for refrigerating appliances, ice-cream appliances and ice makers
    • IEC-60335-2-40: Contains safety requirements for electrical heat pumps, air-conditioners and dehumidifiers
    • IEC-60335-2-75: Particular requirements for commercial dispensing appliances and vending machines.
    • IEC-60335-2-89: Particular requirements for commercial refrigerating appliances and ice-makers with an incorporated or remote refrigerant unit or motor-compressor

    Products with multiple functions may be covered by two different part 2 standards – i.e. a washing machine (covered by IEC-60335-2-7) with a clothes drying function (covered by IEC-60335-2-11). In such cases it will be necessary to test and approve according to both standards.

    There may be regional and/or local variations to above mentioned international standards. It is therefore important to gain an overview any local or regional deviations to these standards in the specific markets you wish to sell your products on.

    2. Evaluate the pros and cons of different types of low-GWP refrigerants

    There are various types of low-GWP refrigerants to choose from. Part of your preparation should therefore include research on the pros and cons of the refrigerants, you are considering, so you can choose the one which is the best fit for your product and the criteria you have.

    In below table, we have listed some of the refrigerants to choose from and some of their pros and cons:

    Gas type

    Pros

    Cons

    R32

    • GWP of 716

    • Low toxicity, lower flammability

    • Relatively large production capacity available

    • Some controls are necessary to be able to handle the compressor’s discharge temperatures, particularly when high

    • Cost may increase with mitigation devices for high discharge temperature

    Hydrocarbons

    R290 (Propane),

    R600 (Butane)

    R600a (Isobutane)

    • Safety classification: A3 (lower toxicity, higher flammability)

    • Zero ODP and GWP between 1.8 to 5.5

    • Good efficiency in most conditions and low discharge temperatures.

    • Maximum on allowed charge sizes in occupied spaces

    • Well-trained and competent personnel necessary to ensure flammability safely handled

    R1234-yf

    (HFO-1234yf)

    • Single component refrigerant with a GWP of about 4

    • Estimated productivity efficiency levels comparable to R134a but with theoretical COP a little lower

    • Cost above that of R134a

    • Well-trained and competent personnel necessary to ensure flammability safely handled

     

    R-717
    (Ammonia)

    • Zero ODP and GWP and offers excellent efficiency

    • Considered cost-competitive but generally requires steel piping and components, so higher cost associated with smaller capacity systems.

    • Restricted usage in occupied spaces due to high toxicity

    • Controlled usage through national regulations in certain countries

    • Few resources that have sufficient training and expertise to work with this toxic refrigerant.

    Source: Low GWP gases – the pros and cons - Cooling Post


    3. Do a GAP analysis or a construction evaluation

    If you already have a product you wish to do a retrofit on or have a prototype, we suggest you do either a GAP analysis or a construction evaluation.

    A GAP analysis entails performing an analysis of the gaps between your existing product and your new product. The GAP analysis will outline any gaps between your design and relevant standard(s).

    In a constructional evaluation, we perform a detailed evaluation of your product construction design to clarify any challenges that need measuring.

    Both tests will help you gain a good overview and understanding of any discrepancies between your current product, and the standard's requirements. This knowledge can help you decide on any relevant design adjustments at an early stage hereby saving both time and money.

    4. Perform the relevant testing

    The most common tests performed to assure consumers’ safety and ensure compliance are:
    • Transport simulation test: checks for flammable gas leakage under transportation and use. This test is always required.
    • Leak simulation test: simulates gas leakage at the point(s) that is/are considered weak and checks the consequences. Only performed in exposed areas of the product to determine the concentration – and the risk for explosion. This test is only required if the gas detection test confirms gas leakage.

    The purpose of the tests is to ensure that there are no leakages and, thus, no subsequent risk for explosion.

    Read more: Testing of products with low-GWP refrigerants

    5. Show compliance and get your product approved for your intended markets by getting the required certificates and documents

    Navigate the certification and approval process and collect the required documentation to apply for the respective certifications. As this can be both complex and time-consuming, you can contact a company like Nemko to help you with this. Gain an overview of the different certificates and which ones Nemko might help you with.

    How can Nemko help?

    If you have any questions or concerns, Nemko is always here to help you. Reach out to your local Nemko office or use the contact us form on this website.

     

    Victor He

    Victor He is Technical Manager with Nemko and works with testing of household appliances from our headquarter in Oslo, Norway.

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