In recent years, a number of prominent air conditioning manufacturers and firms have made the switch from R410a refrigerant to R32. A refrigerant is a fluid or gas that is used in the running of air conditioning systems and fridges or freezers. Without these refrigerants, such technologies would not be possible. But how do these two popular refrigerants compare?
Climate Change Concerns
To begin with, both refrigerants are Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These are a class of hydrocarbon that is partly chlorinated and fluorinated, and are becoming increasingly popular for air conditioning systems as they have been shown to not deplete the ozone layer, which makes them less harmful to the environment.
However, they do still have global warming potential (GWP), so one of the key comparisons between R410a and R32 must be which has the lower GWP. It should be noted here that the lower a refrigerant's GWP is, the higher its combustibility, meaning there is a slightly increased risk of fire accidents.
Carbon is used as the base when measuring GWP. A single kilogram of carbon has a GWP of 1. Statistics from research show that the GWP of R32, rated 675, is only approximately 30% of the GWP of R410a, which is 2,088. This means 1 kilogram of R32 does as much damage as 675 kilograms of carbon, while 1 kilogram of R410a has the effect of 2,088 kilograms of carbon. In fact, R410a is known as a greenhouse gas, and was listed in the 1999 Kyoto Protocol on global warming as a refrigerant that was contributing to climate change.
R32 is also a more energy efficient chemical for use in air conditioning systems, due to its ability to work under higher pressure. This means that less electricity is required to run a system that uses R32 - research shows the reduction in comparison to R410a is around 7%.
A Natural Progression
As tighter regulations come into force on GWP levels to protect the environment, the use of R410a is being phased out due to its dangerously high contribution to climate change. The preferred replacement is showing itself to be R32, owing to factors such as lower environmental impact, greater energy efficiency, safety and cost-effectiveness.
Environmental groups welcome this change, which will also save on utility bills for the average consumer due to the energy efficiency. R410a was the refrigerant of choice due to its smaller environmental impact than the chemicals that came before it. As society and technology moves on it's time to say goodbye, and R32 is the refrigerant of the future.
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