Views: 2 Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2023-03-28 Origin: Site
Refrigerant, also known as refrigerant, is an important medium that circulates in air conditioning, heat pumps, and refrigeration systems to achieve energy conversion.Refrigerant can absorb and release heat through phase change in vapor compression refrigeration cycle systems, so it is widely used in industries, household appliances, automotive air conditioning, and other fields. Currently, refrigerants can be divided into two categories: natural refrigerants and synthetic refrigerants.Natural refrigerants mainly include inorganic compounds (such as NH3, CO2, etc.) and hydrocarbons (such as ethylene, propane, isobutane, etc.); Typical representatives of synthetic refrigerants are halogenated hydrocarbons, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs),
hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).Benefiting from the characteristics of low toxicity, non flammable, and stability, synthetic fluorinated refrigerants quickly occupy a dominant position in the market.
3.1.Refrigerant development history
Refrigerant has been developed for nearly a hundred years and has undergone four generations of technological changes so far.The first generation of refrigerants that first appeared were chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), but with the deepening of research, chlorofluorocarbons were considered to be the main factor leading to ozone layer destruction, so they have now been discontinued; The second generation refrigerant hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are represented by the most well known R22.Although they have less damage to the ozone layer, they still cause a greenhouse effect, and are being phased out globally;The third generation refrigerant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have both high-quality refrigeration efficiency and environmental protection characteristics, but their widespread use will still lead to global warming.The third generation refrigerant is widely used worldwide and is currently in the early stages of elimination;The fourth generation of refrigerants mainly refers to hydrofluoroalkenes (HFOs), which have extremely low climate hazards and are considered as a new generation of refrigerants that can replace HFCs in the future.However, due to the high cost of HFOs refrigerants and high technical and equipment requirements, they have not yet entered large-scale use.At present, refrigerants are developing rapidly in the direction of safety, efficiency, and economy.
3.2 The third generation refrigerant ushers in a period of rapid promotion in China
As the third generation refrigerant, HFCs are currently the main substitutes for HCFCs.The third generation refrigerants are mainly represented by HFC-134a (R134a), HFC-410a (R410a), and HFC-245fa (R245fa foaming agent), with an ODP value of 0 and a significant decrease in GWP compared to the second generation refrigerants.This type of refrigerant is very close to R22 (i.e., HCFCs type refrigerant) in terms of refrigeration capacity and pressure, and has achieved comprehensive substitution for R22 in downstream areas such as room air conditioning and small commercial air conditioning.Environmental performance:The main reason why the first generation of refrigerants (CFCs) are banned is that they can split in the atmosphere and release chlorine atoms that destroy the ozone layer.The protection of ozone has attracted great attention from various countries and has become a global urgent task.Both HCFCs and CFCs cause damage to the ozone layer, but the only difference is that the number of chlorine atoms decreases.Because HFCs do not contain chlorine atoms in their molecular structure, they do not damage the ozone layer. However, the third generation refrigerant is still a greenhouse gas, and its effect on global warming is hundreds of times that of CO2.Technical requirements: Currently, the fourth generation refrigerant technology is basically controlled and monopolized by European and American companies, while the research, development and production of the fourth generation refrigerant in China is still in a pilot state, temporarily unable to achieve large-scale application. R1234yf, jointly developed by Honeywell and DuPont, is the most promising fourth generation refrigerant currently used in automobiles, refrigerators, and many large fixed and commercial refrigeration equipment.However, the patented technology is controlled and monopolized by European and American giants such as Honeywell, Comus, and Akoma. Currently, the fourth generation refrigerant manufacturers in China are all foreign-funded OEM manufacturers, with only production patents and no application patents.
Safety:The ANSI/ASHRAE 34 refrigerant safety classification method is widely used in the industry to classify the safety level based on the toxicity and flammability of refrigerants.Class A1 refrigerants are nonflammable and have low toxicity.Currently, most of the second and third generation refrigerants used belong to Class A1, with high safety assurance;The A2L refrigerant has low flammability, and the fourth generation refrigerant currently being gradually promoted belongs to this category.Special protective measures are required for these hydrocarbons with low toxicity and flammability.Therefore, relatively high requirements are put forward for the infrastructure and technical level of refrigerant manufacturers.Currently, few countries can achieve large-scale promotion of the fourth generation refrigerant.
With the gradual withdrawal of the production capacity of small enterprises in the field of third-generation refrigerants, the industry concentration has significantly increased.R134a is mainly used in the field of automotive air conditioning, with limited domestic manufacturers and a good competitive landscape;The R410a, which is made by mixing R32 and R125, is mainly used for variable frequency air conditioners, with relatively large small capacity.China is currently in an alternate stage between the second and third generation refrigerants, and the problem of excess capacity of the third generation refrigerants is gradually becoming prominent. Since 2019, the prices of the second and third generation refrigerants have gradually dropped to the bottom range, and the industry has generally fallen into a state of loss. Various manufacturers have operated at marginal profit or loss, and small enterprises with low cost advantages are facing a crisis of elimination.In 2020, downstream consumption demand was sluggish, the loss state of the refrigerant industry continued, and the production capacity of small enterprises gradually withdrew.It is expected that in 2023, the phenomenon of excessive production capacity and low price competition will decrease, and the industry concentration is expected to further increase.
In the baseline year (2020-2022), the quota competition has ended, the stage of significant expansion of third-generation refrigerant production capacity has basically ended, and downstream consumer demand has gradually recovered.With the continuous improvement of industry concentration, it is expected that the profitability of leading enterprises is expected to gradually improve, and the industry as a whole may enter a boom cycle.
3.3 Refrigerant upstream and downstream analysis
Fluorite is the main source of fluorine in nature, and is also the main raw material in the upstream of the fluorine chemical industry chain.Hydrofluoric acid produced by the reaction of fluorite with concentrated sulfuric acid is the most important intermediate in the production of refrigerants.