Low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants, e.g. Propane (R290) (GWP = 3) and R1234yf (GWP = 4), are becoming a popular choice among refrigeration and HVAC systems, such as vending machines and air conditioning. However, most of Low GWP refrigerants are flammable (ASHRAE class A2 or A3), so safety is a very important consideration when designing and deploying low GWP refrigerants-based equipment in buildings. In the event of a refrigerant leak, the flammability of low GWP refrigerants depends on the local concentration of the refrigerant within the vicinity of the leak. In addition, the low GWP refrigerants concentration is affected by the indoor air environment, such as air flow rate and temperature. In the present study, a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model is developed to model the flow and temperature of air surrounding a propane-based refrigeration system, as well as the concentration of leaked low GWP refrigerants surrounding the refrigeration system. The model results reveal the concentration distribution of low GWP refrigerants within the building, and as a result, the flammable regions within the building can be identified. Moreover, different ventilation layouts will be tested using the model to improve the design of ventilation. The numerical model can assist in the design of ventilation systems to minimize flammable regions within buildings due to leakage of flammable refrigerants.

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