New Delhi [India], December 1: The International Copper Association India (ICA India) hosted a technical seminar, "Copper Tubes for Next-gen Sustainable and Energy Efficient HVACR", on November 28th in New Delhi. The event marked a significant milestone in the pursuit of sustainable cooling solutions in alignment with the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP).
As per the India Cooling Action Plan (ICAP), the installed stock of room air conditioners in India is set to increase from 55 million units in 2022-23 to 350 million units by 2037-38. This points toward a significant opportunity for the Indian ACR industry. However, on the other hand, the use of inefficient options could lead to increased energy demand and higher carbon emissions.
To tackle this challenge, the Government of India formulated the ICAP, providing a 20-year perspective and outlining the actions needed for sustainable cooling. The ICAP vision is to reduce refrigerant use by 25-30%, decrease cooling energy demand by 25-40%, and lower cooling demand by 20-25% in a progressive manner, while encouraging innovation and skill development to augment economic as well as environmental goals.
For several years, the Indian air conditioner industry has been innovating with new technologies to produce cooling systems that are not only energy-efficient but also use green refrigerants at an optimized cost. In recent years, MicroGroove has been broadly adopted in China, Japan, India, and several Asian countries. MicroGroove coils made from smaller diameter inner-grooved copper tubes deliver an unprecedented combination of reliability, energy efficiency, and eco-friendliness. They are more affordable than traditional designs because they use less material. Many coil manufacturers have added MicroGroove heat exchanger production lines to their plants or even built new facilities dedicated to the production of MicroGroove heat exchangers. India has been one of the fastest countries in adopting MicroGroove heat exchangers. Introduced first in 2017-18, the share of MicroGroove heat exchangers in condensers reached 40% in 2022-2023 in just five years.
Another key area of transformation is refrigerants. Moving towards green refrigerants has been a part of India's mitigation strategy, which includes the phasing out of ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in compliance with the Montreal Protocol framework. While HCFCs were first replaced with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the HCFC Phase-out Management Plan (HPMP)-II mandates that the country gradually phase down HFCs and shift to non-HFCs and other low-global warming potential (GWP) and natural refrigerants. Today, almost 90% of room ACs sold in India use HFC-32.
According to the International Copper Association India (ICA India), the use of smaller diameter copper tubes will continue to grow in India. To support the Indian industry in research, development, and promotion of efficient heat exchanger technology, ICA India founded the Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Heat Exchanger Technology Alliance (HETA) India. HETA aims to deepen cooperation with member OEMs, research heat exchanger technology, and strengthen the advantages of copper heat exchanger technology. Through their cooperation on the HETA platform, OEMs are realizing the full potential of smaller-diameter copper tubes and applying this technology to the construction of high-efficiency heat exchangers and appliance products.
Srinivasu Moturi, Head R&D Centre, Voltas Ltd. said, "Tube size, inner groove geometry and fin profile mixtures play a significant role in improving the efficiency of heat exchangers. 5 mm inner groove copper tubes provide better heat transfer coefficient and handles pressure drop of various refrigerants. Smaller diameter coils made with copper tubes can be produced using familiar tube handling and coil assembly equipment, keeping manufacturing costs low. In terms of longevity and durability, copper is a superior material that yields products with proven longevity."
Deepak Baid, Vice President R&D, Bluestar Ltd. added, "Inner grooving of copper tubes improves the heat transfer properties of the tube by creating turbulence within the flow of fluid. This, in turn, enhances heat transfer by increasing the surface area of the tube that is in contact with the fluid."
Mayur Karmarkar, Managing Director, ICA India, added, "Apart from technology adoption, the Government of India has recognized the need to support the localization of AC and its component manufacturing. This has resulted in three companies under the PLI scheme working on setting up inner-grooved copper tube plants in India. These tubes are 100% imported from the ASEAN region under FTA." He further added, "The Quality Control Order for copper tubes and PLI scheme are positive steps to revive domestic manufacturing of tubes in India. This will lead to high-quality copper tubes locally available and cater to the growing demand in India."
The seminar showcased the industry's commitment to environmentally responsible cooling solutions, fostering collaboration, innovation, and the exchange of knowledge. This event served as a cornerstone for propelling India into a future of energy-efficient and eco-friendly air conditioning.
The International Copper Association India (ICA India) is a member of Copper Alliance and the Indian arm of the International Copper Association Limited (ICA), the leading not for profit organization for the promotion of copper worldwide set up in 1959. ICA has been operating since 1998 in India and has built an active association with the growing number of copper users through its programs. ICA India Programs are committed to improving the quality of life through better Electrical Safety, Energy Efficiency, Clean Energy and Sustainability. ICA India's efforts have been pivotal to advancing better standards, across various products, applications and industries, by leveraging upon the superior technical performance of Copper.
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