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2019 ASHRAE Webcast

Challenges with Transitioning to Low-GWP Refrigerants Focus
of Free Webinar

From eSociety, March 2019

This year’s ASHRAE Webcast will address a pressing challenge for the HVAC&R industry: the transition to low-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants.

The Future of Refrigerants: Unitary and VRF Systems” webcast will discuss how common air-conditioning system configurations could adapt to substantial changes in refrigerant technology. The webcast is free, but registration is required.

This past January, developed countries—including the U.S.—began phasing down their hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) refrigerant emissions, in accordance to the Kigali Agreement, said Stephen Kujak, Member ASHRAE, one of the webcast presenters. In 2016, countries agreed to amend the Montreal Protocol to reduce the manufacturing and use of HFCs by about 80-85% from their respective baselines by 2045 with the Kigali Agreement, said Kujak, the director of next generation refrigerant research at Ingersoll Rand.

Kujak said the webinar will help people understand:

  • the regulations around HFC phase-down timing which will dictate when new products will be introduced;

  • the safety and performance of potential alternatives; and

  • the impacts these new alternatives may have to the supply and service stream.

The industry is at a critical point in this transition, as there are different approaches and timelines worldwide for the phase down of high-GWP refrigerants, said Douglas Tucker, P.E., Member ASHRAE, another webcast presenter.

“The global HVAC&R industry is in the early stages of restricting the production and use of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants such as R-410A, the predominant refrigerant used in the United States for unitary packaged and split system air conditioners and heat pumps including VRF systems,” said Tucker, who is the director of industry and government relations at Mitsubishi Electric US Cooling & Heating.

Tucker said changes to the product safety standards, installation, building codes and increasing energy-efficiency mandates will present many challenges at every stages of equipment life cycles.

The refrigerant industry is developing new refrigerants for unitary and VRF systems with reduced climate impacts. These low-GWP refrigerants have zero ozone depletion potential. Most of these new refrigerants have GWPs of less than one-third of R-410A, he said.

To help the industry prepare for and address these changes, the webcast will discuss:

  • How the refrigerant industry will meet the needs of installed packaged and split system air-conditioners, specifically VRF systems.

  • Future trends in DX air conditioning (including VRF) equipment design, performance and application.

  • Future of low-GWP refrigerant options for unitary products, if future refrigerant retrofits are possible, and how to recognize the challenges and best practices in working with flammable refrigerants.

This year’s webcast will be limited to two hours and will broadcast live twice—on different times and days for the global audience convenience. The webcast is scheduled for April 17 at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. EDT and April 18 at 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT. ASHRAE President Sheila J. Hayter, P.E., will provide the opening remarks.

Participants of the webcast may receive two Professional Development Hours (PDHs) or two Learning Units (LU/HSWs) awarded by American Institute of Architects or two Continuing Education (CE) hours from the U.S. Green Building Council (GBCI).

Kujak, Tucker and Sarah Kim, Ph.D., Member ASHRAE, scientist/project leader at Arkema Fluorochemicals, are this year’s webinar presenters.