Ingersoll Rand's Australasian business leader, Stuart Kirkwood, said A2L refrigerants are not new to Australia and have been in use in small charge residential split system air conditioners up to 18kWr since 2014.
He said there are over one million R32 systems installed in Australia.
“Manufacturers advice indicates that A2L systems will now be offered up to 30kWr,” Kirkwood said.
“Around 60% of wall splits currently registered on the GEMS website utilize A2L R32.”
Kirkwood said Australia's HFC phasedown is more aggressive than action being taken internationally.
“But it's important to remember that it is a phasedown over 18 years, not a phaseout,” he said.
At the end of the phasedown, the final quota will be 1608 Mt CO2-e in December 31, 2035.
However from the year 2025 Kirkwood said R134a, R401a and R407c will be prohibited in new chillers.
Despite the changing landscape, Kirkwood said market requirements remain the same. “It's about reliability, efficiency, initial cost and life cycle cost,” he said.
“Economics are important as sustainability is a significant driver that is moving the market forward.
“MEPS and green building initiatives are driving improved efficiencies while legislation is driving the move to lower GWP refrigerants.”
Kirkwood outlined a range of factors to consider in a changing landscape for the owners of chillers and large HVAC systems.
For larger DX installations he said some options include incorporating detection and automated shut-off (isolation), utilize multiple smaller charge units and reduce charge volume by utilizing a secondary working fluid.
“We all need to reduce our carbon footprint as the biggest factor going forward is decarbonisation,” Kirkwood said.
He said technology enablers for increased product efficiency and sustainability targets include enhanced heat exchanger tubing & design, improved joints/fewer leakage points, low charge heat exchangers, microchannel coil technology, centrifugal impeller aerodynamics, variable volume screws and scrolls, permanent magnet & EC motors, variable speed drives, low loss bearings and drivelines, multi-stage compressors, economizer cycles and optimized controls.
“Manufacturers have delivered enormous advances in efficiency and sustainability in recent years,” Kirkwood said.
“For smaller systems there's coils and components and for larger ones the focus is on oil separators and heat exchangers to improve performance.”
In the near future, he said there will be a lot more heat pumps, heat recovery and free cooling.
“We will see an expanded focus from component and product level efficiency to system and building level efficiency. If we are going to triple electricity use we need to do it right,” he added.
Kirkwood said it is important to stay abreast of new codes, standards, revisions and any new updates to stay ahead of the game.
He said the 2019 update to the National Construction Code has significant changes to the building envelope and energy efficiency.
For the first time ever, Kirkwood said the cost of producing renewable energy went below the cost of producing fossil fuels.
“The cost of solar panels dropped exponentially and energy storage will become very important in coming years,” he said.
Also in attendance at Future:Air was the newly appointed general manager of Refrigerant Reclaim Australia, Kylie Farrelley.
She said new refrigerants are being rolled out over a period of time but all major suppliers have retrofit products available to meet HFC phasedown requirements.
“There will be a two stage rollout of refrigerants over the next 15 to 20 years,” she said.