A mass of hot air that swept into the Japan archipelago in summer 2010 saw air conditioner sales soar. But for a combination of reasons, this didn’t correlate with a spike in refrigerant gas demand.

While sales of air conditioner units rose dramatically, especially in August alone, the majority of air conditioners sold in Japan are actually imported products. The main refrigerant in this market, R410A, should have shown a major rise in demand – but did not. According to information gathered by The Gas Report (TGR), deliveries of R410A showed an increase of just 15-20% over the previous year.

Imported units are one of the reasons for this, with this meaning that they are no longer directly linked to the demand for gas in Japan itself. However, a raw materials shortage is the other main motive for a lack of refrigerant gas sales.

A shortage of HFC32 and HFC125, both of which are used in the production of R410A, in 2010 meant that supply of R410A was affected and has been in a tight supply situation since around March. TGR notes that there were reports of Showa Denko in Kawasaki and Daikin Industries in Kashima ceasing production of HFC125 in particular.

If those reports are true, it’s thought that there are currently no plants in Japan current producing HFC125; for the production of R410A, a stable supply of HFC125 is an absolute necessity, TGR says.

While Daikin Industries is constructing a HFC125 plant in Changsu, China in a joint venture with French firm Arkema, start-up of the plant hit delays and a tight market remains.

* News taken from KK Gas Review magazine *