R32 vs R410a: What's the better refrigerant?
As if choosing a new air conditioner wasn't difficult enough, we now have to choose between two different refrigerants. Of course, we're referring to the well-known R410A and the more recently launched R32.
"Refrigerant" refers to various gases used as cooling agents in aircon units and similar devices. Because of several chemical processes, the gases are insoluble in water and can go as far as the stratosphere.
We distinguish between refrigerants based on the following criteria:
- environmental impact
- chemical structure
- type of device that uses them
The environmental impact of certain refrigerants is what sets them apart. Both R32 and R410A, for example, are hydrofluorocarbons, a class of gases. They have a zero ODP (ozone depletion potential), making them environmentally beneficial.
Both refrigerants have the same ODP and belong to the same category.
However, we will compare their differences in this article and figure out the better option. Let's find out together!
WHAT IS AN AC REFRIGERANT?
Refrigeration, air conditioning, and freezing are powered by the refrigerant, normally found in a liquid or gaseous state. A refrigerant absorbs heat from the environment and produces cool air when paired with other components such as compressors and evaporators.
Air conditioners include refrigerant inside internal copper coils, which convert from a gas to a liquid as the coolant absorbs heat from the inside. This liquid is pumped externally, where it is blown over the coils by a fan and ejected.
The coolant then cools and goes back to its original gaseous state. The cooling coils are then blasted over by a fan, which blasts cold air from the unit and throughout your home. During the cooling process, this cycle is repeated several times.
R32 vs R410a: ROLE OF REFRIGERANTS
Fluids that can swiftly shift from liquid to gas and back are refrigerants. They're found in air conditioners and refrigerators alike.
Refrigerant (also known as coolant) serves the same purpose in both appliances: it absorbs heat and releases it outside.
This cycle continues, and the refrigerant travels through the appliance's closed system.
Role in Airconditioners
The air conditioner removes a little amount of hot air from the room and sends it outside, lowering the temperature and making it colder. The chilly air is then let back into the room. (Keep in mind that it only transports heat, not air.) The air conditioner then extracts more hot air from the room and repeats the procedure.
Refrigerant allows heat to be transferred from inside to outside the room. The heat in the room absorbs the liquid refrigerant, which then evaporates into a gas. The A/C system, which includes a condenser, compressor, expansion valve, and evaporator, transports this gas.
In the internal unit of a split air conditioner or the inner section of a window air conditioner, refrigerant is stored under high pressure in evaporator coils.
When the air conditioner is turned on, the blower fan draws air from the room and passes it over the evaporator coils. The room air quickly vaporises the liquid refrigerant into gas since refrigerants have relatively low boiling points (listed below 00C). The now 'cool' room air returns to the room after passing its heat to the refrigerant.
On the other hand, the heated gaseous refrigerant passes through the compressor before entering the condenser. The heat from the refrigerant is absorbed by the condenser coils and released into the environment.
The Expansion valve then pressurises the refrigerant and converts it back to a liquid state.
The liquid refrigerant returns to the evaporator coils, absorbing heat from the next batch of room air. The cycle continues.
TYPES OF REFRIGERANTS AND THEIR BRIEF HISTORY
One of the primary causes of ozone depletion and the glasshouse gas impact was chlorofluorocarbons. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), such as R12, contributed significantly to the glasshouse gas effect. Due to regulations, production of R12 units halted in 1994.
R22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant that was marginally less harmful to the environment than R12. However, it was required by the Clean Air Act to be phased out in the United States in 2010. R22 was projected to be phased out entirely by 2020.
R410A is a hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant deemed to be environmentally friendly compared to R22. It has a GWP of 2,090, which means that releasing one kilogramme into the atmosphere would have 2,090 times the impact of removing one kilogramme of carbon. R410A, on the other hand, has a zero ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential).
R32 is an HFC refrigerant that several aircon manufacturers adopt due to its environmental, energy consumption, efficiency, and safety characteristics. R32 has a GWP of 675, which is nearly 30% lower than R410A. The ODP of both refrigerants is zero.
GET TO KNOW MORE ABOUT R140A
The R410A refrigerant was invented and patented by an American business called Allied Signal in 1991.
The gas was used in domestic air conditioning units in the United States, Japan, and Europe, replacing R22.
R22 was phased out in the United States in 2010. R410A has since become the industry standard for all new air conditioners in the United States.
R410A operates at substantially higher pressures than other refrigerants. As a result, handling it necessitates the use of equipment designed for such conditions.
It has a consistent boiling point despite being two different gases. As a result, filling a pressure vessel with R410A should be quite simple and leak-free.
R410A does not include chlorine or bromine, unlike haloalkane refrigerants.
The gas is entire of fluorine, which explains why it has no ODP. R410A became readily available as a result of this, eventually displacing R22.
While R22 has a GWP of 1810, R410A has a GWP of 2088, which is higher than R22.
The latter, on the other hand, significantly reduces power consumption. As a result, it has a much smaller environmental impact than R22.
GET TO KNOW MORE ABOUT R32
R32, also known as difluoromethane, is an organic gas similar to R410A. Both gases are equally safe to the ozone layer, with an ODP of 0.
R32, on the other hand, has a GWP of 675. It's much lower than R22 and R410A. As a result, it appears to be a better option.
In terms of pressure drop and heat transfer, R32 performs admirably. It's an A2 gas, which implies it's explosive.
R32 has been widely utilised for many years, particularly in China, India, and Japan.
Experts advocate using heat transfer equipment with a low refrigerant charge to reduce the risk associated with its flammability.
R32 is a component of various refrigerants, which is interesting. For example, we may make R407A and R407B refrigerants by mixing them with R125 and R143a.
R32 is also one of the two gases that make up R410A, as we previously discussed.
R32 vs R410a: COMPARISON
Compared to the toxic CFCs employed in the twentieth century, both R32 and R410a are environmentally beneficial. These refrigerants can contribute to global warming, so there's still potential for improvement.
R32 and R410a are both HFCs, which belong to the same family of refrigerants (Hydro Fluoro Carbons). R32 is di-fluoro methane pure, whereas R410a combines di-fluoro methane and Penta-fluoro ethane. R32 is simple to prepare and handle because it is 100% di-fluoromethane. Both Refrigerants are similar in terms of performance. Their density differs.
Because R32 has a lesser density than R410a, it is used in air conditioners and refrigerators in smaller quantities. When your air conditioner runs out of gas, you can refuel it with a smaller amount of R32.
Global Warming and Climate Change
A single woollen blanket is a plenty to keep you warm and cozy in the chilly winter months. Even if you add another blanket, you'll be OK (if you live in cold regions like Shimla).
As you may be aware, temperatures rise as blankets become thicker, more uncomfortable, and potentially dangerous. You'll start squirming incessantly despite the cold if you add 5-6 additional blankets, heavier and wider than before. That is exactly what glasshouse gases do to the planet. They drape a blanket over the Earth to keep it toasty warm. The Industrial Revolution, on the other hand, skewed the equation.
Every glasshouse gas has a GWP (Global Warming Potential) rating. This GWP rating is compared to Carbon Dioxide's GWP value, which is considered to be 1.
Because R410a has a GWP of 2088, it can generate 2088 times more global warming than carbon dioxide. R32, on the other hand, has a GWP of 675, which indicates it can cause 675 times more global warming than carbon dioxide while being far less destructive. As a result, having a lower GWP is healthier for the environment.
Ozone Layer Effect
The ODP of all gaseous compounds used in heat exchange systems (such as refrigerators and air conditioners) is tested (Ozone Depletion Potential). R32 and R410a are both a '0' on the ODP scale.
It means that neither refrigerant has the power to destroy the ozone molecules in the Earth's atmosphere. Neither R32 nor R410a poses a threat to the ozone layer.
GIVE IMPORTANCE TO REFRIGERANTS
Have you ever wondered why it starts raining even though it isn't monsoon season? Or Why are summers becoming hotter, but winters resemble mild summers?
What if I told you that your air conditioner or refrigerator is one of the many sources of climate change? It's the refrigerant in your air conditioner and refrigerator that's speeding up global warming.
In addition to HCFCs, CFCs or ChloroFluoroCarbons, a class of compounds containing chlorine, fluorine, and carbon, were widely used as refrigerants in the twentieth century (HydroChloroFluoroCarbons).
When discovered that the chlorine in these types of refrigerants was responsible for the ozone layer depletion, 180 nations signed the Montreal Protocol, agreeing to phase out CFCs by 1995 and HCFCs by 2030.
Most developed countries, including emerging ones, have already phased out CFCs. HCFCs are being phased out in a continual process.
Refrigerants derived from HFCs (HydroFluoroCarbons) and other refrigerant mixtures are being used to replace CFCs and HCFCs. The HFC family includes both R32 and R410a.
R32 is the victor in our comparison, based on everything we've written thus far.
R32 is more convenient to work with and recycle because it is a single-component gas. Furthermore, its low GWP and high COP make it an ideal contender for driving R410A out of the market.
According to multiple sources, most countries plan to phase out R410A by 2025. Despite this, some individuals argue that R32 is the future coolant.
Still, it all comes down to the air conditioning unit and installation you choose for your home. They do not dispute its numerous advantages.
However, they do say that R32 is merely another step towards discovering the ultimate environmentally benign refrigerant.
Furthermore, many individuals are concerned about R32's flammability. We hope that our explanation of the differences between R410A and R32 was helpful.
In the end, only time will tell who wins the "eco-friendly cake." One thing is certain: we check the refrigerant in all of our air conditioner services.