The advantages of R1234ZE refrigerant | The increasing concerns about climate change have produced a series of environmental regulations reflecting on the HVAC industry. On the 1st of January 2019 the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol entered into force. And both the developed and developing countries have taken on mandatory commitments to reduce the global production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), harmful man-made greenhouses gases.
Alternatives to HFCs refrigerants
Then, most of us know about the F-gas regulation in Europe. A European agreement made in 2013, aiming to progressively phase down the use of F-gases, i.e. fluorinated greenhouse gases – a group of chemicals containing fluorine.
The most common F-gases in use in Europe are HFCs such as R134a and R410A, which are largely used as refrigerants.
So, with this regulation the European Union is aiming to reduce the environmental impact of fluorinated gases by phasing down the use of refrigerants such as R410A and R134a. This has been a big change which has led the Air Conditioning industry to move towards lower Global Warming Potential refrigerants in the recent years.
It is interesting to see how regulations, both national and international, have been among of the most important drivers for spurring investment in new technologies. Because of the F-gas regulation, for instance, HVAC manufacturers have had to find alternatives different than R134a and R410A.
The advantages offered by R1234ze
While, we have talked a lot about R-32 as a low GWP alternative to R-410A, we still have not discussed about the alternatives to R134a refrigerant.
The alternatives to R134a usually come down to choices such as the R1234ze and the R513A. Both are great low GWP alternative, depending on the technology they are paired to, but in this article we are going to specifically focus on R1234ze and the advantages it offers.
The R1234ze refrigerant is a HFO refrigerant with a very low GWP (7). For this reason it is one of the most relevant options to ensure low impact on the environment and compliance with regulation.
While the fact R1234ze has a very low GWP (7 vs 1300 of the R134a), it also results in very efficient chiller operations. These two aspects definitely make this refrigerant a future-proof choice with respect to more and more stringent environmental regulations.
Another interesting aspect to observe, is then how the HVAC literature comparing R1234ze with R134A has been stressing the following concept:
“A comparison of the compressor size and speed […] indicates the R1234ze chiller compressor is larger in size and operates at a lower speed (rpm) for the same chiller capacity”.*
Actually, air-cooled chillers’ footprint is an aspect that the use of R1234ze can affect. Air-cooled chillers using R1234ze refrigerant are usually bigger in size than those using R134a, even if they provide the same exact cooling capacity. That is an aspect Daikin has been working on in the recent years. And thanks to the incessant work of our engineering to always find technologically advanced solutions, the footprint aspect has been overcome.
Technology development to improve performance with R-1234ze
Daikin offers R-1234ze refrigerant in three different series: the screw inverter air-cooled Daikin TZ-C, the water-cooled screw inverter compressor Daikin VZ, and the water-cooled centrifugal oil-free Daikin DZ and the water-cooled centrifugal chiller range DWSC.
All these series are characterized by very high efficiency values (up to 5.8 for the EWAH-TZ, SEER up to 9.1 for the EWWH-VZ, and SEER up to 9.1 for the EWWH-DZ) and a very compact footprint despite the cooling capacity they can provide.
That has been possible thanks to an in-depth study of their design and the optimization of every single component. The TZ series, for instance, which is one of the latest addition to Daikin Applied portfolio, is a perfect example of this. In fact, thanks to the new generation of single screw compressors this range confirms, or even improves, the high efficiency levels provided by the TZ chillers with R134a, and thanks to a new design also keeps the units relatively compact, even in high capacity units.
The new single screw compressor is one of the main and most interesting features in Daikin 3rd generation of air-cooled screw chillers. Daikin has made an important investment to develop technology that could provide the best efficiency performance with both the R134a and R1234ze.
The new compressor design includes a new screw profile to get the best performance with both the R1234ze and the R134a refrigerants. The result of this newly developed compressor is a substantial cooling capacity extension, still keeping the chiller unit relatively compact.
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* Comparison of R134a and R1234ze for New Chiller Systems and for Fluid (Drop-In) in Existing Systems Francis A. Di Bella, P.E. Adam Weaver Colin Osborne