Although much of Australia’s refrigeration and air conditioning equipment still uses fluorocarbon refrigerants, environmentally benign alternatives to these chemicals, such as hydrocarbons are widely used. The opening of the new AC test facility in New South Wales, combined with the Australian price tag on synthetic greenhouse gases, could help encourage both industry and consumers to invest in products using alternative gases.
CSIRO National HVAC Performance Test Facility
According to an article in HVAC&R Nation, CSIRO engineers have designed and commissioned a new, state-of-the-art air conditioner test facility to evaluate the electrical, cooling and heating performance of conventional and solar-powered systems. The CSIRO Energy Centre in New South Wales will expand Australia’s capacity for product testing and enhance Australia’s capability to perform ratings and Minimum Energy Performance (MEPS) testing of new and existing products on the Australian market.
Already the facility is assisting CSIRO to develop innovative and cost-effective solar cooling technologies, to cut emissions and reduce seasonal peak-loads, and in the future could help validate the performance of hydrocarbon systems.
The facility can be used to evaluate both conventional and innovative solar powered air conditioning technologies (up to 20 kW thermal). Testing is done using a balanced ambient calorimeter comprised of two test rooms with precisely controlled ambient temperature and humidity conditions to simulate an indoor and outdoor environment. The calorimeter can be connected to a simulation package for hour-by-hour heat load analysis.
Hydrocarbon air conditioning in Australia
In Australia air conditioning contributes significantly to peak-load pressure on the electricity network, resulting in growing interest in cost-effective cooling technologies that can reduce seasonal peak-loads and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Whilst the CSIRO test facility could pave the way for market entry of new hydrocarbon air conditioning systems, several highly efficient systems are already available on the Australian market.
For example, the College of Climate Change provides ready to install hydrocarbon (HC) air conditioners using the refrigerant RED TEK 22a, an HC refrigerant blend designed as a replacement option for R22 in air conditioning systems. These converted units will save an extra 15% to 40% of power consumption, and have excellent MEPS ratings.
Benson Airconditioning have specialised in working with Hychill Pty Ltd, to also use hydrocarbon refrigerants. The refrigerant used in Benson Enviro3 Airconditioning systems is Hychill’s R290. Hychill’s range of hydrocarbon refrigerants are the only working fluids on the Australian market to have achieved certification with the Good Environmental Choice Label. Moreover, the hydrocarbon systems achieve a 15-20% efficiency improvement compared to the company’s R22 units.
Delonghi Australia Pty Ltd also sells portable hydrocarbon air conditioners.
It is important to note that all of these appliances are approved for use in Queensland, which has the most stringent regulations governing the use of hydrocarbon appliances.