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New paradigm shift in refrigerants leads to flammability concerns

Senseair has recently launched robust and long-lifetime NDIR-based refrigerant sensors to implement leakage detection, says company’s representative

| | Jan 7, 2019 | 5:32 pm
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Delsbo, Sweden, 7 January 2019: Currently, the HVAC/R industry is undergoing its third paradigm shift in regulating refrigerants, this time to address the contribution to climate change and global warming, Sensair said in a Press communiqué.

While the earlier fluorocarbon transitions, from chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and then to the fluorinated refrigerants without chlorine (HFCs), were quite straightforward drop-in replacements with environmental benefits, this third paradigm adds some drawbacks and concerns in the efforts to phase-in refrigerants with low Global Warming Potential (GWP less than 150 times that of CO2), the communiqué said.

The new refrigerants being advocated with low GWP, however, tend to fall within A2L classification, meaning that they are mildly flammable according to ISO 817:2014 Refrigerants – Designation and safety classification, the communiqué said. Other low GWP refrigerants like CO2 (R-744) and Ammonia (R-717) have other challenges, the communiqué further said. With new international regulations, local policies and insurance requirements pending due to the hazard concern, adding A2L leakage detection sensors for controlling mitigation systems and/or shutdowns is a solution, the communiqué added.

Senseair has recently launched robust and long-lifetime NDIR-based refrigerant sensors to implement leakage detection in these systems, the communiqué said. Senseair targets the R-32 gas concentration in the A2L mixtures, or that of a pure hydrocarbon in the blend, and calculates the air volume concentration of the refrigerant gas and relates it to the avoidance thresholds by levels of LFL (Lower Flammability Limit) or LEL (Lower Explosion Limits), the communiqué further said. The sensing platform can then communicate an alert or directly engage in mitigation or shut-down procedures, the communiqué added.

The Senseair NDIR sensor technology can be installed directly in the cold environment, the communiqué said. It is highly selective and immune to disturbance sources and provides a responsive and fast detection of an A2L refrigerant leak for very long and maintenance-free operation (>15 years), the communiqué further said. Senseair offers their solutions either as a calibrated sensor module for integration by customer, or as a complete pre-integrated board design with relays and additional features bundled with all the required sensory aspects, the communiqué added.

According to Senseair, the company can even design and manufacture the complete enclosed system with cabling and housing and the requirement testing for a product, which is ready to install.


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