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HFO R1234ze for variable speed centrifugal chillers

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HFO R1234ze for variable speed centrifugal chillers

The proposed phase-down of HFC refrigerants, whether through the Montreal or Kyoto processes or by way of European legislation, has prompted an assessment of alternative fluids for a wide range of applications. One of the more difficult challenges has been to find a replacement for R-134a used in small centrifugal compressors. The common natural refrigerants ammonia, carbon dioxide, propane and water are not suitable for a variety of reasons. This paper explains the background to HFC phase-down, describes the steps taken to evaluate alternatives to R-134a in this application and the design modifications required to ensure efficiency and reliability, and gives the results of performance testing in a factory environment and on site. Commercial, technical and legislative barriers to further progress are considered and the next steps to adoption of this technology are discussed.  Written by Dr AB Pearson FInstR, BSc, BEng, PhD, CEng.

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