Society is prioritizing the mitigation of climate change, and new, potentially flammable, low-Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants are a key tool in broadly lowering the rate of global warming.
The detection of fugitive (leaking) refrigerant is a new regulation emerging as HVAC equipment manufacturers convert to low-GWP refrigerants. Both A2L and A3 low-GWP refrigerants, while climate-friendly, are flammable. As such, OEMs will have to integrate refrigerant sensors that detect leaked refrigerant that could potentially cause a harmful event.
Gas detection sensors
Refrigerant gas sensors quickly detect gases before they reach explosive levels and alert users to the need for mitigation. Commercial buildings and medium-to-large residential units have the most essential need and gain the most benefit from detecting gases at pre-flammable levels.
Gas detection sensors have been used for decades in other applications, such as industrial safety and home monitoring. Adding the right sensing technology to HVAC equipment will not be a significant burden to most businesses and homeowners. As a general rule, the better and more robust the technology, the less maintenance needed over a long lifespan, and the lower the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the systems.
Property management companies
Legacy technologies have shortcomings that limit their performance, according to NevadaNano
Meeting the need in the market is the MPS refrigerant sensor from NevadaNano, a sensor engineered specifically for the detection of harmful refrigerants within HVAC equipment. Legacy technologies have shortcomings that limit their performance, according to NevadaNano. In contrast, the MPS is designed for a 10-plus year life, is immune to poisoning, and never requires re-calibration.
“Since the MPS is a smart sensor module, it performs a self-test every two seconds and immediately reports a fault or a condition if it ever operates out of normal parameters,” says Bob Christensen, NevadaNano’s Senior Director of Business Development. NevadaNano is actively engaged with HVAC equipment providers to integrate and optimize the ability to detect leaked refrigerant quickly and accurately. “As A2L refrigerants become the standard, it’s critical that businesses, property management companies, and homeowners can be confident that their facilities are safe,” says Christensen.
Eventual replacement sensors
“In addition, our sensors remove the burden and uncertainty associated with legacy technology and faulty sensors.” Legacy nondispersive infrared sensor (NDIR) and pellistor technologies often require human intervention to work properly and require frequent re-calibration and eventual replacement sensors.
These traditional sensor technologies require frequent tests to verify that they are operational and able to detect refrigerant gas within specification. In this bump test, a technician introduces a known volume of gas and verifies the sensor works within proper safety parameters. If the sensor does not read the gas correctly, the sensor may be corrected or recalibrated. However, most sensors’ performance decays over time, and will need to be replaced. NevadaNano’s MPS does not require field-testing or re-calibration, an advantage over traditional sensor technology, says Christensen.