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Mitsubishi Electric braces for decade-long R32 push

Company argues that upcoming launch of R32 VRF range and other cooling appliances reflects the lower flammability gas’ importance to European industry for at least up to the 2030s

Mitsubishi Electric has said that lower flammability R32 refrigerant will remain a vital solution to help industry curb its environmental footprint up until at least the late 2020s. The appeal of the gas as a readily available lower GWP solution could also then be further extended beyond the next decade in a blended form, the manufacturer has claimed.

Mark Grayston, product marketing manager for Mitsubishi’s living environmental system division in the UK, said that 2020 would prove a big year for the company in offering new R32 solutions. The launches are expected to better meet requirements across Europe to curb greenhouse gas emissions in line with quotas introduced under the F-Gas regulation.

Mitsubishi Electric said that markets such as Japan and a large number of US States remained comfortable using the higher GWP, non-flammable refrigerant R410A under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. However, the company said that European markets needed viable medium-term alternatives.

Industry reliance is expected to grow for lower GWP refrigerant products that have with some levels of toxicity or flammability due to additional quota reductions for existing refrigerants that are set to come into effect in 2021 and increase the price of products such as R410A. Adopting these solutions will require more considered planning of their use and systems, according to Mitsubishi Electric.

Mr Grayston said that even with the company anticipating R32 to remain a vital solution over the lifecycle of its new equipment, use of the gas could be extended even further as part of a blended product.

He said, “With R32, we indicated the late 2020s in terms of its longevity, but if you use the product in a hybrid form, where you reduce the refrigerant amount in it, it potentially goes even further.

Mr Grayston added that another benefit for contractors using the company’s R32 products is that the gas is serviceable for the intended lifecycle of new equipment.

He said, “If they need to take refrigerant out, or add refrigerant in, they know in 15 years’ time that the refrigerant will be there and it will still be a good price.”

The comments were made with the announcement that Mitsubishi Electric was launching its first VRF air conditioning systems in Europe that are designed to address a need for higher capacity cooling. The range can also be supplied in heat recovery and heat pump variants and is designed to support the cooling needs of big office spaces, large retail units and hotels.

According to the manufacturer, the R32 City Multi YNW range is being made commercially available as part of a major European launch with units set to be in stock from January 2020.

Mitsubishi Electric said the launch of the VRF technology was a response to customer demand for appliances that were future-proofed against legislative changes such as F-Gas requirements.

Mr Grayston said that the company also intended to offer a full suite of R32 products for a variety of cooling needs from April 2020.

The additional applications supported through this expanded range would meet mid-range retail capacity demand that has traditionally used large capacity split systems. Mr Grayston said these solutions would typically make use of a single twin-fan outdoor unit that was linked to two or three cassettes in an open plan retail space.

He added, “They tend to use splits because they are quite low cost and retail spaces tend to changeover quite quickly, so they want systems that aren’t necessarily going to last 15 years, so they want to spend a bit less on capital cost, so there is that market gap that is being filled.”

Challenges in switching to lower flammability refrigerant and upcoming changes to F-Gas regulations that will include its first service bans in 2020 will be among the key topics of RAC Magazine’s free to attend F-Gas Question Time that is taking place on 9 October at London’s Bloomsbury Hotel.   

Those interested in attending the free event, which concludes with a complimentary buffet lunch and networking, can register by emailing Billy.Ward’@’emap.com.

Readers' comments (1)

  • We in the UK as an industry take manufacturers statements as balanced, responsible, supported and apply not only to the UK, Europe but the whole world. We trust! there is no political/commercial agenda that tells the AC owner that his equipment life span is x years. Look at the car industry with leaded petrol.
    There is a good reason why 140 countries including UK & EUROPE etc aligning themselves to the Kigali Amendment. There ia good reason why the French, Italian & Spanish building Regs ensure that it is almost impossible to use Flammables!.
    The F-Gas regulation DOES not promote Flammable refrigerants! it simply encourages the reduction of Hi GWP.
    The upcoming ban for AC is 2025, not 2020 and only for split systems with less than 3kg charge. It has excellent exemptions +4 years, relating to safety and a better life cycle emission.
    We should read it correctly!
    https://www.spaceair.co.uk/uploads/files/VRF/R32/Extract%20Ban%20on%20F-gas%20gov_uk.pdf
    Safety has a higher priority than environmental /commercial gains. The Environment gets affected if refrigerant accidentally leaked with R410A but at least it is not going to possibly burn the building!!
    We must act responsibly. Neil Afram is not anti flammable but anti risks that affect safety.

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