Recently multinational HVAC equipmentmanufacturer Daikin announced it will be offering other equipment manufacturers free access to some 93 of its patents in order to promote global use of the environmentally-friendly refrigerant R32.
This, of course, is in answer to coming international phase-outs of the HFC refrigerants. Those phase-outs are in response to the phase-outs of HCFCs deemed unfriendly to the earth’s protective ozone player. And many of those phase-outs were in response to the phase-outs of CFCs, which probably actually were unfriendly to the ozone layer, but not in quantities used by the HVACR industry. Yes, it’s becoming that silly.
All of this, of course, has resulted in chemical manufacturers coming up with many new refrigerant gases that are very complex and very expensive, thus putting a huge burden upon unwitting consumers who have no idea what needless expenses are being laid on them by the world’s Chicken Littles, who keep changing their minds and passing laws to force more phase-outs of relatively benign gases used in small quantities by our industry. These gases could almost all be recovered for reuse if legislators (think Al Gore and the EPA) would stop asking the chemical manufacturers (who are only interested in manufacturing the new stuff) what laws should be passed.
Does that sound a little “right wing” and extreme? I am very much a “centrist,” but I watched the EPA go to refrigerant manufacturers back in the early 1990s and ask whether HVACR contractors should be allowed to do their own recycling of CFCs and HCFCs. Contractors ended up being banned from doing that because of the claim contaminated refrigerants possibly could be sold.
Those who originally set up to do their own recycling and were then banned from doing it were pretty conscientious. And Carrier Corp.’s “Clean-Up After Burnout” advanced training program once explained how silly it is to worry about minor amounts of contaminants in refrigerants since these usually are handled by a good vacuum and the installation of filter driers.
Why do I like what Daikin is doing? Well, despite the fact it also manufactures some refrigerants, the company has chosen to promote the use of a relatively simple and inexpensive gas, which is very environmentally friendly. What’s the catch? It is mildly flammable so local codes would have to be changed to allow its use.
Oh no! It’s inexpensive, easy to manufacture, environmentally friendly, won’t need future phase-outs, and it may in some instances be almost a drop-in replacement for a few existing refrigerants, but it will require work to get the codes changed. Where is the money in that?
Don’t expect to hear anything good about this refrigerant (or my article here) from most domestic equipment or refrigerant manufacturers, but hats off to Daikin for promoting this.
Read here for past Jim Wheeler Air Side columns.
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