U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Building Technologies Office
Low-Global Warming Potential Refrigerants Research Project
The U.S. Department of Energy is currently conducting research into low global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. As concerns about climate change intensify, it is becoming increasingly clear that suitable low-GWP refrigerants will be needed for both new and existing residential and commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HVAC&R) equipment.
This project seeks to develop alternative refrigerants for HVAC&R equipment. The overall environmental impacts of alternative refrigerants will be assessed using a life cycle climate performance model that accounts for direct emissions associated with refrigerant leaks and indirect emissions associated with energy consumption. In addition, candidate refrigerants will be tested in equipment and evaluated to identify those alternatives which provide high energy efficiencies while minimizing risk, cost, and modifications to equipment.
Research is being undertaken through a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) between the Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and a CRADA partner.
The goal of this project is the identification and development of alternative refrigerants for building equipment that reduces the overall impact on greenhouse gas emissions through a combination of reducing the global warming potential of the refrigerant while maintaining or improving existing equipment efficiencies.
Benefits and Impacts
At present, research efforts by refrigerant suppliers are focused on the manufacturing processes. In addition, refrigerant suppliers have limited resources and equipment for testing. This project will allow the Department of Energy to provide guidance to the HVAC&R community on selecting alternative, energy-efficient, low-GWP refrigerants. This guidance will enable U.S. manufacturers to position themselves as world leaders of the next generation of alternative refrigerant technologies, resulting in job creation and growth.