HFOs Represent Greater Energy Efficiency - Oak Ridge National Laboratory Studies Confirm

As a Honeywell Fellow with over 20 years at the company and more than 70 patents coming out of our Buffalo, NY research lab, I am proud to see the results of our teams’ hard work recently validated by two different Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) reports. ORNL is the world’s premier research institution. Established in 1943 by the U.S. Department of Energy, ORNL helps to address the United States’ most urgent research needs and advances science to keep our critical infrastructure running and our people safe.

There are increasing, important concerns being raised about global warming and ozone depletion. This is why my team at Honeywell has invested more than one billion dollars into the research and development of HFO technology, having anticipated the need for lower global-warming-potential (Low-GWP) solutions more than a decade ago. A large part of the HFO patents and technology we developed have been successfully addressing those concerns for years, helping to avoid harmful CO2 emissions from being discharged into our planet’s atmosphere. 

Published in August and October 2023, the two ORNL assessments take a scientific and data-driven approach to comparing the energy efficiencies of HFOs versus alternative solutions across important commercial applications, including in appliances, residential air conditioning, supermarket refrigeration systems, and spray foam insulation. ORNL’s research has confirmed that across these applications, HFO solutions represent greater energy efficiency (when compared to CO2 and propane/hydrocarbons) and less flammability (when compared to propane/hydrocarbons)

The first study, “Technology Options for Low Environmental Impact Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Systems,” evaluated options for two main applications – residential air conditioning and commercial supermarket refrigeration. It compared HFOs to both propane and CO2 in applications globally and found that HFOs are the clear market choice for industries looking for low emission and energy efficient alternatives. In fact, ORNL has shown that HFO-based blends require the lowest overall energy usage in all cities studied for commercial refrigeration. The findings - something that is not widely understood - speak for themselves:

  • Propane systems will consume 5% to 21% higher energy vs HFO solutions over the lifetime of the system (15 years) in commercial refrigeration.

  • CO2 systems will consume 8% to 50% higher energy vs HFO solutions over the lifetime of the system (15 years) in commercial refrigeration.

The second study “Assessment of the Performance of Hydrofluoroolefins, Hydrochlorofluoroolefins, and Halogen-Free Foam Blowing Agents in Cellular Plastic Foams,” conducted an extensive literature review to evaluate the publicly available data on HFOs to assess their viability and performance in spray foams, boardstocks, appliances, and panels compared to available alternatives like hydrocarbons, methylal, and CO2. When evaluating the performance attributes of HFO blowing agents to evaluate energy efficiency, as well as safety attributes to identify HFOs’ flammability characteristics, researchers ultimately concluded that HFOs can effectively replace higher GWP solutions, such as HFCs, to reduce emissions and mitigate the use of flammable and explosive materials in high-density, urban areas.

As the tested and proven incumbent, customers have chosen Honeywell HFOs when prioritizing factors such as reliability, safety, sustainability, performance, energy efficiency and total cost of ownership. Simply stated, our HFO technology helps our customers meet environmental regulations and sustainability goals now and into the future.

Our field and case studies globally bear this data out and the results we deliver for the planet are well-documented and verified. Our Buffalo, NY-based Honeywell research team is proud of our accomplishments, and proud of the tangible, positive impact our innovations have on safeguarding our planet’s climate.

Ryan Hulse
Sr Director R&D, AMR&D Applications
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