AHRI to Evaluate Alternative Refrigerants

April 13, 2011
Participating formulators will conduct tests at company labs

In response to environmental concerns raised by the use of high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants, the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) is launching an industry-wide cooperative research program to identify and evaluate promising alternative refrigerants for major product categories. These include air conditioners, heat pumps, dehumidifiers, chillers, water heaters, ice makers, and refrigeration equipment.

Sources from AHRI say that the program, referred to as the Low GWP Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program, or low GWP AREP, is strongly desired by the industry to assess the research needs, accelerate industry's response to environmental challenges raised by the use of high GWP refrigerants, and avoid duplicative work.

AHRI successfully managed the original R-22 AREP in the 1990s, and will again take the lead in coordinating and managing this industry-driven research effort, along with industry experts from our member companies. "The intent of the program is to help industry select the most promising refrigerants, understand technical challenges, and identify the research needed to use these refrigerants," says AHRI Vice President of Regulatory and Research Karim Amrane.

"The program will not prioritize these alternatives; rather, it will identify potential refrigerants replacements for high GWP HFCs, and present the performance of these replacements in a consistent and standard manner," he added. The program will consist of compressor calorimeter testing, system drop-in testing, soft-optimized system testing, and heat transfer testing. All tests other than heat transfer coefficient measurements are expected to be performed at participating companies' laboratories, using their own resources, at their own expense. Participating companies will include U.S. and international manufacturers. The heat transfer coefficient measurements will be contracted out on a competitive basis to universities and private research laboratories.

The Low GWP AREP program will be managed by a technical committee which will be responsible for developing detailed test protocols prior to the start of the program, prioritizing tasks if refrigerant samples have limited availability, and ensuring quality of the results to be published. The technical committee will report to the AHRI Executive Committee. Once the technical committee is formed, an open solicitation will be made to both U.S. and foreign manufacturers to participate in the testing program. AHRI expects to begin testing new low GWP alternative refrigerants in July 2011.