AHRI Flammable Refrigerants Research Initiative

The HVACR industry is transitioning to low GWP refrigerants due to environmental concerns and regulatory requirements. Many of these low GWP refrigerants are mildly flammable. Proper revision of relevant safety standards and codes will be necessary to implement these environmentally friendly refrigerants in the field in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Updates to relevant safety standards has been underway for many years. The standard revision and code adoption processes are relatively slow while regulations advance quickly. This is, in part, because of a lack of publicly available knowledge about the safe use of these refrigerants. To address this challenge, the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) has been leading a research program aimed at generating publicly available and sound technical data to support code and standard activities related to the use of flammable refrigerants. This $5.6 million program was jointly funded by AHRI, ASHRAE, the California Air Resources Board, and the U.S. Department of Energy. The goal of the research initiative is to deliver scientific findings and produce publicly available technical references to support code and standard activities related to the use of flammable refrigerants.

Flammable Refrigerants Projects

The following nine projects were developed following a survey of the safety standard community. They were prioritized among other identified research needs and considered high priority projects by industry experts, major safety standard committee chairmen and members, and representatives from U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

A responsible approach to ensure the safe use of flammable refrigerants

Launched High Priority Projects

Funding Organization

Project Description

Status

Benchmarking Risk by Whole Room Scale Leaks and Ignitions Testing of A2L Refrigerants

AHRI

A2L refrigerants leak and ignition testing under whole room scale conditions was conducted to develop data and insight into the risks associated with the use of A2L refrigerants versus A1 refrigerants while considering ambient conditions (temperature and humidity) and refrigerant lubricants.

Completed
Download: AHRTI-9007-01

Benchmarking Risk by Whole Room Scale Leaks and Ignitions Testing of A3 Refrigerant

CARB

This project is to conduct A3 refrigerant leaks and ignitions testing under whole room scale conditions, understand the risk associated with the use of A3 refrigerants, and provide test data to support future revisions of relevant safety standards associated with using A3 refrigerants.

Completed
Download: AHRTI-9007-02

Investigation of Hot Surface Ignition Temperature for A2L Refrigerants

AHRI

The objective of this work is to develop a test methodology to assist in the evaluation of the propensity of A2L refrigerants (R32, R1234ze, and R452B) to ignite on hot surfaces, and to carry out testing per the new test methodology.

Completed
Download: AHRTI-9008

Leak Detection of A2L Refrigerants in HVACR Equipment

AHRI

A thorough review of sensor technologies was conducted to evaluate available technologies that can be used to meet safety standards requirements of detecting A2L refrigerants and easily integrated into air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment. Infrared (IR) and Metal Oxide Semiconductor (MOS) sensors were found to be the most promising sensor technologies.

Completed
Download: AHRTI-9009

Flammable Refrigerants Post-ignition Risk Assessment

ASHRAE

The objective of this project is to understand the Severity of events where flammable refrigerants are ignited under different scenarios for various HVAC&R products.

Completed
Download: ASHRAE.org

Guidelines for flammable refrigerant handling, transporting, storing and equipment servicing and installation

ASHRAE

This project accessed flammable refrigerant safety guidelines and/or requirements that exist domestically and internationally. The assessment will be used to propose requirements/guidelines for the safe handling, storing and transporting of flammable refrigerants

Completed
Download: ASHRAE.org

Servicing and Installing Equipment Using Flammable Refrigerants: Assessment of Field-made Mechanical Joints

ASHRAE

This project tested the leak-tightness of various types of field-made joints used to connect refrigerant piping and system components in HVAC&R equipment. The results of this project provided necessary data to suggest whether or not common types of joints, other than brazed or soldered joints, should be permissible for use in equipment containing flammable refrigerants.

Completed
Download: ASHRAE.org

Determination of setting charge limits for various types of equipment employing flammable refrigerants

DOE

The primary objective of the project is to examine the currently imposed limits for flammable refrigerant alternatives (A2L, A2, and A3) and identify reasonable adjustments to these limits as appropriate.

Completed
Download: to be added upon completion

Modeling Tools for Flammability Ranking of Low-GWP Refrigerant Blends

DOE

The project is to develop modeling tools that can predict the burning velocity of arbitrary mixtures of R32, R125, R134a, R152a, 1234yf, and 1234ze(E), so that flammability of a blend can be minimized, while simultaneously maximizing performance related to other parameters.z

Ongoing
Download: to be added upon completion

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