Two standards regarding flammable-refrigerant-based room air conditioners were released by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information in Nov 2016, of all 605 industry standards released at the same time. Safety Technical Standards on Manufacture of Flammable-Refrigerant-Based Air Conditioners for Household and Similar Use numbered QB/T 4975-2016 and Special Requirements for Transportation of Flammable-Refrigerant-Based Room Air Conditioners numbered QB/T 4976-2016, the former stipulates issues concerning technical requirements, operation process and safety management while the latter dictates safety requirements for road transportation of finished products. Initiated by CHEAA, these two standards are set to kick in on April 1, 2017.

China’s room air conditioner sector is currently phasing down R22 under Montreal Protocol. And according to newly agreed Kigali Amendment to Montreal Protocol, R410a, previously a transitional replacement, is added to the phase-out list. Based on this, China’s room air conditioner industry choose HF-290 as a replacement after serious deliberation. However, R290, an ozone-friendly, environmental friendly, yet flammable A3-level refrigerant, is facing resistance from the market, though recognized by international community as a next-generation refrigerant.

“Safety hazards of natural refrigerants are proven to be controllable, if proper measures are taken in manufacture and transportation.” Wang Lei, vice president of CHEAA, points out. She believes that these two standards will act as guidance in replacement of refrigerants.

Wang says that these well-targeted standards can keep enterprises in line in their production line conversion, product storage and transportation. She says, “This industry needs standards like these. Their establishment and revision have received strong support from air conditioner makers and parts & accessories makers.”

“We can see where China’s air conditioner industry is going from these two standards. We are using a truly environment-friendly refrigerant as our final solution. ” She says.

Thanks to efforts from Chinese government, industry organizations and industry players, international standards pay an increased attention to R290. Early this month (December), Working Group 16 under IEC 60335-2-40 hosted a meeting at Hangzhou, and came to a draft on the leakage amount of flammable refrigerants in air conditioners. In addition, UL is assembling its expert team and plans to address the charge size issue of flammable refrigerants in the forthcoming 2017. These revisions are expected to remove obstacles for R290-based air conditioners in market expansion.