LIFE FRONT shares recommendations for raising flammable refrigerant charge limits
The EU-funded project’s third and final webinar took place on June 3, sharing major results and achievements.
LIFE FRONT held a free webinar on June 3 to officially present the project’s conclusions and recommendations, including key aspects on how to safely raise charge limits of flammable refrigerants.
The EU-funded LIFE FRONT project, which aims to remove barriers to hydrocarbon refrigerants and contribute to wider uptake within the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) industry, concludes June 14. As such, a webinar was held at the start of the month for project partners to share the outcomes of the three-year project. The webinar boasted 140 registrations and 72 live participants with good interaction.
The session was moderated by Pauline Bruge of shecco, LIFE FRONT Project Coordinator. Bruge kicked things off with a summarized look into the project’s key objectives and what was achieved. “The project results are important in helping to remove barriers that cause unnecessary costs and delay the market entry of much needed sustainable cooling and heat pump products,” explained Bruge.
The project’s objectives were defined as:
- Support the EU and international standardization process for flammable refrigerants.
- Reduce safety risks from improved system design for air-conditioning, refrigeration and heat pump applications using flammable refrigerants.
- Increase availability of alternatives to replace HFCs.
- Engage in technology capacity-building for EU equipment manufacturers
- Remove non-technological knowledge barriers.
- Improve Europe’s competitiveness for RACHP equipment using non-fluorinated refrigerant alternatives.
- Support an effective and timely achievement of the EU 2030 climate targets.
Daniel Colbourne, Engineer at German Consulting Firm HEAT GmbH and Lead Technical Expert of the LIFE FRONT project, was up next. He provided an update on the leak hole size data bases for small and large systems. LIFE FRONT developed Europe’s largest leakage size database that uses real figures to determine to which extent it is safe to operate with bigger amounts of flammable refrigerants.
Thanks to this project, more than 1,000 data-points are now available on leak hole sizes, covering a variety of system types, ages, installations, etc.
“The main objective of these databases is to address the lack of data that currently leads to worse case assumptions for refrigerant charge size limits under EU standards,” explained Colbourne. He reiterated that the correct determination of hole size is essential for handling flammable HC refrigerants. If it’s too small, the potential hazard can be underestimated while if it’s too large, the risk is over-engineering and over pricing.
René van Gerwen, Managing Director of engineering company Entropycs, and Refrigeration Expert of LIFE FRONT then presented on the project’s inputs to standardization work and how these results will impact the sector in future. “Simple charge limits are too rigid – this blocks innovation,” he explained. “Continued focus on standard improvements is required, in view of removing barriers for A3 flammable refrigerants.”
The final presentation was by member of the LIFE FRONT Standard Action Group, Belgian food retailer Colruyt. Collin Bootsveld, Project Engineer at the Colruyt Group, shared the end user perspective, explaining how the project results are useful for the sector by drawing on personal experience in working with hydrocarbons. Bootsveld concluded that, in his experience, most leaks were very small and larger leaks were usually caused by human intervention.
The session concluded with an interactive Q&A session with a variety of questions, mostly of a technical nature, addressed to panelists.