As South African industry faces ever-tightening restrictions on the importation and use of refrigerants containing virgin hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), leading gas company Afrox has announced the introduction of Forane® 427A, a new 100% hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) blend offering a direct drop-in replacement solution for existing R-22 installations across a broad spectrum of applications.
Afrox’s special products and chemicals’ manager, Robert Carlton-Shields, says: “Forane® 427A offers a similar performance to R-22, with no ozone depleting potential. There is no other similar product available in this country with such a broad temperature range and therefore with such broad-based application — it’s almost a one-gas-fits-all solution for use in R-22 equipment. It is non-toxic and non-flammable, meeting the highest A1/A1 requirement on both counts, with low global warming potential (GWP).
“No modification of the installation is necessary for the conversion process. Forane® 427A requires only one oil draining and its replacement by a POE lubricant. Optimal performance close to R-22 can be achieved without long and costly rinsing of the circuit, owing to its high tolerance for residual original oil in the system.
“By reducing the end cost to the user, Forane® 427A makes the transition to a more environmentally friendly alternative that much easier.”
In terms of the Montreal Protocol, users of the HCFC R-22 in the European Union were subject to a usage and sales ban on virgin product on ozone depleting potential gases and high GWP gases from the beginning of this year. This will be followed by a complete phase-out of HCFCs by 2015 South Africa is also a signatory to the Protocol and local companies who currently import refrigerants containing virgin HCFCs will face heavy restrictions from 2013, in preparation for a similar phase out.
“Forane® 427A has been tried and trusted in Europe and the United States for the past six years and is backed up by readily available technical resources,” says Carlton-Shields. “Here in South Africa we’re making excellent progress with a local trial in the food and beverage industry to add to database of overseas case studies.”
In one of these case studies, Forane® 427A successfully replaced R-22 in a supermarket’s medium temperature refrigeration unit and low temperature refrigeration unit. The conversion took place during the summer season and very satisfactory operating conditions were achieved immediately and sustained in the long term.
After ensuring that the R-22 equipment was in a good state and having measured the performance of the installation with the initial R-22 charge, the retrofit took place in seven steps: recovery of the entire original R-22 charge; draining of the mineral oil from the system; POE lubricant charge without a rinsing step; changing of the filter drier; evacuation of the installation; recharge with Forane® 427A; re-start of the installation and performance measurement after running conditions had reached a steady state.
In another application, Forane® 427A was used to convert a water chiller which supplied chilled water to an air conditioning network serving several public buildings in a commercial district. As a result of the very satisfactory performance easily and rapidly achieved with Forane® 427A, the customer decided to convert several other R-22 units.
Another case study outlines the successful conversion of equipment in a popular fast food restaurant from R-22 to Forane® 427A. The retrofit operation was performed successfully in a very short space of time. The converted installation included an air/water heat pump that produces hot water for heating in winter and air-conditioning in summer and is also used for preheating domestic hot water.
The equipment has been operating very satisfactorily and, on the strength of this experience, the restaurant chain is planning further retrofit operations to convert equipment from R-22 to Forane® 427A.
Forane® 427A is manufactured by Arkema in France, a world leading diversified chemicals manufacturer and longstanding supplier of refrigerants to Afrox.