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Industry expert outlines trends in refrigerants across Middle East’s air conditioning sector

Discusses challenges facing the transition of unitary and applied products to low-GWP refrigerants in view of the Kigali Amendment

| | Apr 25, 2019 | 9:31 am
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Srinivasan Rangan

Dubai, UAE, 25 April 2019: Unitary products, such as residential and light-commercial units, are responsible for 85% of the consumption of refrigerants in the Middle East, whereas applied products, such as chillers, are responsible for 15%, said Srinivasan Rangan, a subject-matter expert, who provided a comprehensive overview of the ever-evolving refrigerant landscape in the region following the 2028 freeze-date given to Group 2 Article 5 countries under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

Rangan said that R410A (A1 classification) being a non-flammable and non-toxic refrigerant is still the refrigerant of choice for unitary products. “R32 (A2L) is used in Middle East by some consumers for split units, but it is still not as popular due to low flammability (A2L) classification,” he said. With Group 2 Article 5 countries fast approaching 2028, Rangan said the dynamics in the Middle East will change over the next 5-8 years. However, he added, there are some challenges that are currently hampering the transition to more environmentally friendly refrigerants. “The replacement of R-410A has not been launched in the market,” he said. “No potential retrofits have been announced on a commercial availability, due to the low-flammable low-GWP refrigerant requirement.”

For applied products, Rangan said air-cooled chillers and water-cooled screw chillers in Middle East use the HFC, R-134A. “While HFO chiller options are available with equipment suppliers,” he explained, “the transition to this refrigerant option is expected to pick up gradually. The reason for delayed transition is the competitiveness of the HFO chillers in Middle East conditions and the availability of the complete range; not all suppliers have the product in their portfolio.” For centrifugal chillers, Rangan said, low-GWP HFOs and HFCs are equally acceptable to most customers. “The Low-GWP trend has been picking up over the last two years, and customers are now accepting both types of refrigerants,” he said. “R-134A suppliers have declared a retrofit refrigerant of R513A, which is an interim GWP refrigerant. Some centrifugal chiller suppliers have also launched HFO chillers in partial range.” He added that competitiveness, capacity range and type of technology are key decision-making criteria impacting the transition.

Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at hannah@cpi-industry.com

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