Are you ready for R-32? R-32 is one of the two components found in R-410A. Some major air conditioning manufacturers have been studying R-32 for use by itself. Why? Primarily because R-410A has a high global warming potential (2088) – even higher than R-22 which it replaced. On the other hand, R-32 has a much lower GWP of 675. R-32 is an HFC compound, not a blend. So it has none of the problems of vapor charging, fractionation, and glide found in the zeotropes. It is also a very efficient refrigerant and operates at pressures similar to R-410A. So what is the catch? Flammability.
R-32 has a 2L flammability rating. This means that it will burn, but it will not explode. There is no flash point. It will burn when ignited, but it self extinguishes when the ignition source is removed. Still, it burns. Safety in design and handling must be a major priority when handling flammable refrigerants. As global warming potential becomes more of an issue, the industry will be moving toward flammable refrigerants. In general, the more flammable a refrigerant is, the lower its GWP. Most non-flammable refrigerants all tend to have a high GWP while extremely flammable refrigerants such as propane, R-290, have a very low GWP. (Note that this is not always the case. CO2 has the lowest GWP of 1 and it is not flammable at all.)
Daikin, the world’s largest air conditioning manufacturer, is already producing R-32 systems for sale in other parts of the world. Danfoss is also studying R-32. For more information on R-32, check out these links.