Electrical Monitor

Radical technology changes will improve acceptance of HVAC solutions

Venugopal PillaiFriday, August 16, 2013, 17:11 Hrs  [IST]

Kanwal Jeet Jawa—Kanwal Jeet Jawa, Managing Director, Daikin Airconditioning India Pvt Ltd

In February this year, Daikin Air-conditioning India Pvt Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Japan-based Daikin Industries Ltd announced the launch of air-conditioning equipment using next generation refrigerant HFC32. It is encouraging to note that HFC32 based products bearing only one-third of the global warming potential when compared to conventional refrigerants like R410A and R22. In this exclusive interaction, Kanwal Jeet Jawa tells Venugopal Pillai more about HFC32 and how it mitigates adverse ecological impact. Jawa also discusses Daikin’s plans of commercializing this new and patented refrigerant gas.

Tell us more about the new refrigerant gas HFC-32. How it contributes in lowering global warming?
HFC32 or Hydro fluorocarbon 32 (HFC32) is an energy-efficient refrigerant gas that we at Daikin India have started to integrate in our latest range of air-conditioners. By replacing the earlier used environment depleting refrigerants with the latest HFC32 refrigerant, we have been able to attain greater energy efficiency levels. The HFC32 refrigerant is a low carbon-dioxide emitting refrigerant which has a lower global warming potential and boasts of zero ozone depletion potential.

HFC32 also enables to reduce the amount of refrigerant needed per air conditioning unit which helps in suitable for refrigerant recycling as well. Enabling products to be made compact, owing to its properties, HFC32 refrigerant’s lower global warming impact helps curtail greenhouse gas emissions thus guaranteeing better energy efficiency.

What is the cost of using HFC-32 vis-à-vis other conventional alternatives like R22, etc?
The cost of HFC32, though slightly on the higher side, is quite comparable to R22.

What is your broad plan of action in commercializing HFC32?
To bring in greater awareness and acceptance of HFC32 refrigerant in the Indian HVAC sector, Daikin India has earmarked a special programme wherein the onus will be on providing greater technical education to the distributors, channel partners and consumers.

To enable widespread outreach of HFC32 in the market and to facilitate widespread commercial usage, Daikin India has plans to step up its national dealership network to upwards of 2,000 from its current positioning of a 1,000-plus. Also plans are afoot to develop 100-plus new Daikin Exclusive Solution Plazas across the country in the coming months. For the time-being, the company’s strategically trained 1,000-plus dealer network will provide HFC32 enabled air-conditioning solutions to the consumers and will also provide after-sales service to the consumers.

Refrigerant gases have the dubious distinction of causing enormous damage to the ecology. Please discuss this aspect and also tell us how Daikin has been contributing to making refrigerant gases less vicious to the environment.

Today, air-conditioner refrigerants have grown onto becoming one of the most detrimental effectors on environment. Its rampant use puts enormous pressure on the ecology and brings in greater ill-effects which harm our existence in avenues more than one.

Daikin India being an organization which puts environment first, has put forth measures that endeavour to create a greater awareness towards environmental sustainability. Through its range of high-quality products, services and practices that includes quality standards and rigorous environmental protection strategies Daikin India endeavors to create a value structure that provides customers with the ultimate convenience and comfort, while being true to environment as well.

It is thus to promote greater energy sustainability that Daikin India has undertaken endeavors like usage of eco-friendly refrigerants like HFC32, creation of an redesigned environment-friendly product line, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from production and other environmental initiatives which has helped Daikin India embark on a fruitful environmental strategy.

We understand that Daikin holds the patent to using HFC-32. Tell us more. Would you be employing HFC-32 only in air-conditioners produced henceforth or is there scope to “refuel” existing units with the new refrigerant?
The environment-friendly and energy-efficient HFC32 refrigerant is currently being employed in every product that Daikin India produces. In the pursuance of greater environmental protection goals, Daikin India has enabled the usage of HFC32 refrigerant by replacing the earlier used R410A refrigerant, for which we had to completely redesign our product technologies.

Being a corporate that takes energy-efficiency very seriously, we have redesigned the entire range as the HFC32 refrigerant cannot be retrofitted into the previous technology. Thus with the oncoming of HFC32 refrigerant into the product line, there is no scope for refueling existing units, and all the design elements of the existing units have been redesigned to accept only HFC32.

You have estimated that India’s demand for air-conditioners will grow exponentially to 300 million units by 2030 making it a very significant consumer of electricity generated. Apart from eco-friendly refrigerants, are there other aspects of energy efficiency that one needs to look at?
Looking at the depleting natural resources, pertinent usage of natural resources is the critical need of the hour. While efforts are made to reach out to maximum consumers with vistas of energy education, the need of the hour is to engage other mediums as well, which promote greater awareness.

Some other aspects which need to be looked into are:
Energy Education to consumers: Corporate entities should put more efforts in enabling greater energy education into the consumers as looking at the depleting energy resources, the education is absolutely critical at this juncture. Efforts should be made to make the education as widespread & transparent as possible to help reach out to the maximum masses.

Greater Energy Standards Awareness: Awareness towards ‘Energy labeling’ issued by BEE need to be upped exponentially. Efforts should be made to educate the masses on picking appliances based on greater energy-efficiency, which will enable greater savings to them.

Essential Energy-Efficiency Design: HVAC products should have design elements which promote greater energy efficiency, which helps in reducing energy wastage. Organizations should now invest greatly in creating a new lineage of design elements and aesthetics, which imperatively need to be engaged, thus helping to minimize energy loss.

At this point, do you think that BEE’s mandatory star-labeling programme for domestic air-conditioners is having the desired effect?

Surely, BEE’s Star Labeling programme is exponentially having a desired effect on the consumers as an emerging trend is being seen where the consumers are more inclined towards buying products which have more energy-efficient “stars” attached to them.

Today more and more consumers demand higher star-rated products which ensure them better energy utilization. Being more informative about energy efficient product lines, today consumers do not mind paying a bit more for, which provides them greater energy efficiency thus maximizing savings.

The advent of mandatory energy-efficiency information has also made manufacturers come with innovative technologies which offer energy-efficient products which comply better with the guidelines laid down by the BEE Council. This has led to greater energy-efficiency awareness which augurs well for the industry as a whole.

Daikin has contributed in making air-conditioners efficient and eco-friendly. However, air-conditioners always mean much higher energy consumption and environmental damage by way of refrigerants. Do you foresee the emergence of radically different air-conditioning technologies?
Yes, in the time to come, with evolving technology coupled with greater consumer awareness on energy-efficient mediums, the future beckons the rise of radical air-conditioning technologies on a mass scale. This radical change in technology will positively alter the acceptance of air-conditioning solutions. Today, air conditioners are perceived to be costly and environment-unfriendly devices. With radical technologies coming in we are certain of the fact that tomorrow the consumer will accept HVAC solutions as an important need of daily lives which is energy-efficient and environmental friendly as well.