Benefits and Challenges in Deployment of Low GWP A3 Refrigerants in Residential and Commercial Cooling Equipment
Aiding in the commercialization of cooling equipment with alternative low-GWP A3 refrigerants and help California to meet its statutory targets for 2030 and beyond.
The project was completed in August 2021. This project focused on the potential climate benefits and costs of transitioning to propane refrigerant (aka “R-290”) in small room air conditioning (AC) units, specifically window AC, packaged terminal AC/heat pumps (PTAC/PTHP), and mini-split heat pumps. It was found that window air conditioners with propane of less than 1-ton cooling capacity have the highest “market favorability” since they are self-contained units and can meet the refrigerant quantity limits per unit set by the EPA in 2015. Overall climate impact for a transition to all three types of air conditioning units in 2022-2051 is found to be from 15 to 66 million metric tons of GHG savings with a cost of saved CO2eq that ranges from $14.50 per ton of CO2eq saved to $44.50 per ton of CO2eq saved (net savings) depending on whether the baseline refrigerant is R-32 or R-410A and depending on the relative energy efficiency for R-290 units compared to baseline units. The final report is pending publication, and a link will be available once published.
This project developed test procedures and conducted testing for alternative refrigerants to assess flammability and to characterize energy savings. The recipient also developed a favorability index of end-use market segments and equipment types based on potential GHG savings and commercial adoption feasibility. Results were shared with the industry through public seminars, technical reports and journals, and conferences. The TAC included manufacturing, codes and standards, and policy entities to help guide the research.
Transitioning to lower-GWP refrigerants for all product types by 2030 and 2050 could reduce refrigerant emissions and GHG down to an estimated 5 and 6 Mt CO2e, for the refrigeration and AC sector, respectively.
Key Project Members
Oak Ridge National Laboratory