U.S. Organizations Work Together to Fund Research on Flammable Refrigerants


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), together with the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), are gearing up to fund a research that would create and develop a richer fact base about the uses and properties of flammable refrigerants. TheNews reported that the research is worth $5.2 million and is part of an ongoing global effort to reduce the use of high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants and determine other potential climate-friendly options.

In preparation for a global plan to diminish high-GWP refrigerants, the industry has spent the last five years researching and studying about the possible alternatives. Because of the experts’ continuous study, there are a number of low toxicity refrigerants, which were classified as mildly flammable or flammable, that were identified. The research program is expected to provide the technical knowledge required to expedite the safe use of these refrigerants.

The outcome of this research program will directly be relayed to the committees that cover the ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 15-2013, Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems, and ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 34-2013, Designation and Safety Classification of Refrigerants. The results will be used to update the rules as soon as possible, subject to full compliance with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) consensus process.

The International Code Council has stated that these new ASHRAE regulations will be eligible to be fast-tracked into the international codes and complies with the ICC methods.

ASHRAE President David Underwood said, “ASHRAE has a strong history and commitment to refrigerants, having written our first standard on the topic in 1919. We have continued our work in this area since that time, publishing the industry’s leading standards on refrigerants as well as conducting hundreds of research projects on the topic. As such, ASHRAE is fully committed to this project. In fact, the funds we are using for our share represent the largest transfer from our Research Reserve Fund in our 122-year history.”

“AHRI is extremely grateful to ASHRAE, DOE, and the ICC for their commitment to accelerating the introduction of suitable alternatives to high-GWP refrigerants. Our member companies, some of which produce refrigerants and others of which manufacture the highest quality of air conditioning and commercial refrigeration equipment in the world, can use the results of this vital research to continue in those missions, but in an even more environmentally friendly way,” said AHRI President and CEO Stephen Yurek.

AHRI’s 300+ member companies produce over 90 percent of the commercial and residential heating, air conditioning, commercial refrigeration, and water heating equipment made in North America. Through the organization’s certification program, advocacy, standards, and other activities, it aims to help improve productivity, ensure a better environment, and save energy.

ASHRAE was founded in 1894 and is a global society that advances human well-being through sustainable technology through standards writing, research and publishing and continuing education. Its mission is to advance the arts and sciences of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.

The U.S. Department of Energy manages the country’s nuclear infrastructure and administers the country’s energy policy. The DOE also funds scientific researches in the field.