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Is R-32 really losing relevance in the refrigerant game?

As false information can become common and, in time, easily become fixed in peoples’ minds, ANSWERING MISBELIEFS is a series of articles that break down false information to bring value to the sector and help people to make informed decisions when working on heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) projects.

Low GWP refrigerants

As F-gas regulations get more and more stringent, low GWP refrigerants are getting more attention.

The trend in the Applied market is to promote R-32 blends as more environmentally sustainable and preferable to pure R-32, almost as if R-32 refrigerant has been losing relevance in the sector.

While diversity of refrigerant choice in the industry should be supported, the above idea relies on misleading marketing claims that are not doing any good to the sector.

Read more here about Daikin’s philosophy to refrigerants.

Although pure R-32 refrigerant has slightly higher GWP than its blends, there is no limitation on its use from a regulatory perspective. This is true for both the Applied sector (commercial and industrial air conditioning) and residential uses. This means that both pure R-32 and R-32 blends fully comply with current regulations.

So, why are R-32 blends being promoted as a more sustainable option? And are R-32 blends more sustainable? To answer these questions, let’s take a closer look at R-32 and its sustainability to see if R-32 could be part of a circular economy of refrigerants.

R-32 refrigerant composition

While R-32 blends and pure R-32 refrigerant can be used on the same product portfolio, they are very different, especially if you consider the characteristics of each in terms of its composition.

R-32 blends are promoted as being more sustainable as they have a lower GWP impact. However, this only considers the GWP levels and ignores that R-32 refrigerant can be part of the circular economy of refrigerants.

As a pure and single component refrigerant, R-32 has all the characteristics needed to be easily recovered, recycled, or regenerated to enter the reclaimed refrigerant market and be reused.

R-32 availability

The greater availability of R-32 in the market compared to niche alternatives such as R-32 blends, makes R-32 a suitable option for reclamation which only makes sense for widely used and largely available refrigerants. Indeed, the market has made R-32 a standard, with 5 times more R-32 chiller and heat pump installations compared to Applied R-32 blend technologies according to Eurovent statistics. If residential installations are considered, the relevance of R-32 refrigerant becomes even more clear.

The possibility to reclaim R-32 eliminates the environmental impact of its disposal, leading to a new scenario where R-32 is seen as environmentally friendly as any other option.

Conclusion

As we have seen, it is incorrect to declare that R-32 is irrelevant in today’s refrigerants landscape. While R-32 is as sustainable as R-32 blends, the fact that it can be recycled or reclaimed increases its environmentally friendliness.

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