Propane as R22 replacement in our cooling systems
Governmental regulations prohibited the use of R22 in new installations already in 2000. Since then, a phase-out process of R22 has started and as of 2010 refilling existing systems with virgin R22 isn’t allowed anymore either. In addition, from 1 January 2015, refilling existing systems with recycled R22 will be prohibited as well.
A search for the best possible environmentally alternative has been a top priority at Heinen & Hopman, as we strive to be green and to contribute to a sustainable world. These regulations have been introduced because R22 is one of the harmful HFCs, which have high GWP (Global Warming Potential). Since environmental issues are on top of many governmental agendas, it is likely that the use of synthetic refrigerants will be prohibited in the foreseeable future.
Natural resource as substitute
To bypass this problem, we have been researching alternatives for R22. We have come to the conclusion that the best substitute would be Propane (R290). Propane has very similar thermodynamic behavior to R22 and it is a natural refrigerant. By using R290 as a refrigerant, the environmental impact is reduced, because R290 has no ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential), a very low GWP and an assumed energy efficiency equal to R22.
Propane is a flammable refrigerant though, and therefore cautious handling of the refrigerant is required. The most important safety concern is to ensure that in case of a leakage the refrigerant doesn’t ignite. Therefore, the solution developed by Heinen & Hopman is to place the cooling system inside a casing, so when a leakage occurs, the possible explosive atmosphere is located inside the casing. By using an ATEX fan, the casing can be ventilated so that the mixture of gas and air can be discharged outside the casing.
In order to ensure the safest systems possible, Heinen & Hopman is still researching the application of Propane until all risks are covered.