Dr. Yunho Hwang, Operating Agent of Annex 54 - A man with a mission to save the planet

Dr. Yunho Hwang is a research professor and associate director of the Center for Environmental Energy Engineering (CEEE) in the United States. Today he is also the Operating Agent for Annex (project) 54 within the HPT TCP. The Annex aims at promoting low-GWP refrigerant application to accelerate phase-down of high-GWP HFCs by developing design guidelines of optimized heat pump components and systems for low-GWP refrigerants

Mission – To save the planet from harmful refrigerants
Mr. Hwang started his industrial career at Samsung Electronics in 1983, developing energy efficient cooling and heating systems, including heat pump systems. One of his tasks was to work with switching from harmful and ozone damaging CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) fluids in those systems to HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons). “My job earlier was to develop energy efficient cooling and heating systems. As I was exposed to the refrigerant problem, it brought me into saving the environment”, explains Mr. Hwang. In 1993 Mr. Hwang came to the University of Maryland in the United States with a mission to replace the harmful CFCs and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons.

Taking action
As an ambassador for the planet, Mr. Hwang today is active both as a researcher at the Maryland University as well as a dedicated educator for students researching this area. The driving force behind his choice of career, is to help the environment by developing environmentally benign cooling and heating systems. “Personally, I don’t like hot summers and in the future hot climate will be even more challenging leading to more people in need of cooling systems. It’s actually about thermal safety since people are dying from heat and cold”, says Mr. Hwang. He continues, “We need to provide environmentally benign air-conditioning and heat pump systems because of the environmental impact from these systems. And we need to do it now”

The importance of Annex 54 – The world is starting to act
Mr. Hwang states that global warming today is obvious for everyone. it is the result of an economic development. And the climate is getting hotter. The need for air-conditioning and heat pump systems is rising: the former mostly in developing countries like India and other countries in Asia, while the latter is in developed countries like European countries as they are gradually abandoning coal, oil and natural gas, which are a main source of global warming.

Timing is a big issue here. We need a switch from high global warming potential fluids such as R410A, to low global warming potential fluids, like R32, HC or CO2 to reduce the carbon footprint. Mr. Hwang once more states that it is urgent that we do this as soon as possible, since air conditioning demand will increase by three time by 2050! “In order to make this happen, we need to educate people, in particular leaders. We all need to make the right decision for the future”.

It is urgent to continue the research on low GWP refrigerants and Annex 54 is one tool. The topic needs to be discussed openly and results needs to be spread globally. “I aim to work with experts in this area in order to develop guidelines using low global warming potential fluids” says Mr. Hwang.

In cooperation with industry
According to Mr. Hwang there are two approaches to pursue simultaneously. First, there is the need to develop fluids with a new set up of chemistries. Evaluating these new substances is one of the tasks Mr. Hwang is dedicated to. Secondly, we need to have the manufacturers on board for optimized system design for energy efficiency. As a researcher in academia, he hopes that the industry will apply the guidelines that Annex 54 will develop in their system design. “In my research centre, we have 30 sponsors from the industry. Most of them are from the air-conditioning and heat pump manufacturing business. This cooperation is very important for the future”, Mr. Hwang ends.

University of Maryland in the United States

Dr. Yunho Hwang is a research professor and Associate director on the Centre for Environmental Energy Engineering, USA. He is an ASME Fellow, an ASHRAE Fellow, and a member of ASME, ASHRAE, SAE, and IIR. Currently, he serves as a chair of ASME’s Advanced Energy System Division, a Vice President of Commission B1 and a past chair of the LCCP Working Group for the IIR, a Program Chair of the Refrigeration Committee for ASHRAE and an operating agent of ANNEX 54 for IEA HPT.  He also serves Energy, Elsevier (Netherlands) as a subject Editor since 2015 and Int. Journal of AC&R, World Scientific (US), as an editor since 2013.