Refrigerant and Environmental issues
Air conditioning has to use refrigerants and although there are many types of refrigerants, including air and water, it is necessary to use chemicals for reasons of efficiency and ultimately to conserve energy.
We hope that this page will give you a better understanding of some of the most common refrigerants in use today for air conditioning and answer any queries you may have.
We have not made this too technical, we could show you the exact chemical compositions, but you will gain more information by viewing refrigerant manufacturer sites on the web. By the way, Daikin also produces refrigerants.
Details are given for the following reference terms with a brief explanation, such as its effect on the Ozone layer and Greenhouse effect.
ODP - The ODP or Ozone Depletion Potential, is the potential for a single molecule of the refrigerant to destroy the Ozone Layer. All of the refrigerants use R11 as a datum reference and thus R11 has an ODP of 1.0. The less the value of the ODP the better the refrigerant is for the ozone layer and therefore the environment.
GWP - The GWP, or Global Warming Potential, is a measurement of how much effect the given refrigerant will have on Global Warming in relation to Carbon Dioxide, where CO2 has a GWP of 1. This is usually measured over a 100-year period. In this case the lower the value of GWP the better the refrigerant is for the environment.
R11 is a single chlorofluorocarbon or CFC compound. It has a high chlorine content and ozone depletion potential (ODP) and high global warming potential (GWP). The use and manufacture of R11 and similar CFC refrigerants is now banned within the European Union even for servicing. - ODP = 1, GWP = 4000
Note: Although the use of R11 is banned, it was used as the datum for ODP therefore having an ODP of 1. The ODP of all other refrigerants are compared to R11
R22 is a single hydrochlorofluorocarbon or HCFC compound. It has low chlorine content and ozone depletion potential and only a modest global warming potential. R22 can still be used in small heat pump systems, but no more new systems can be manufactured for use in the EU after late 2003. From 2010 only recycled or saved stocks of R22 can be used, as it will no longer be manufactured. - ODP = 0.05, GWP = 1700
Phase out dates for R22 (Read the Government Policy Document)
- From 1 July 2002 no more cooling only air conditioning equipment can be manufactured that uses refrigerant R22.
- From 1 January 2004 no more heat pump equipment can be manufactured that uses refrigerant R22.
- After 1 January 2010 no more virgin refrigerant R22 can be used in existing systems.
- After 2015 no more recycled refrigerant R22 can be used in existing systems.
If you have recently installed an R22 air conditioning system the phase out dates should not cause you concern. Your system will only require additional refrigerant should a leak or major repair is required and this can be effected within current legislation until 2015.
There is already a "drop in" replacement refrigerant for R22 with zero ODP - R417A - See below.
R134A is a single hydrofluorocarbon or HFC compound. It has no chlorine content, no ozone depletion potential, and only a modest global warming potential. - ODP = 0, GWP = 1300
R407C is a ternary blend of hydrofluorocarbon or HFC compounds, comprising 23% of R32, 25% of R125 and 52% of R134a. It has no chlorine content, no ozone depletion potential, and only a modest direct global warming potential. - ODP = 0, GWP = 1610
R410A is a binary blend of hydrofluorocarbon or HFC compounds, comprising 50% of R32 and 50% of R125) it has no chlorine content, no ozone depletion potential, and only a modest global warming potential. - ODP = 0, GWP 1890
R417A is the zero ODP replacement for R22 suitable for new equipment and as a drop-in replacement for existing systems.
There are currently no restrictions on equipment or use of the following refrigerants: R134A, R407C, R410A, and R417A.
R290 - Pure propane, a hydrocarbon (HC) an efficient naturally occurring refrigerant with similar properties to R22, but has no ozone depletion potential and an extremely low global warming potential. Whilst it is environmentally safe, it is also highly flammable and must only be used after careful consideration is given to safety. - ODP = 0, GWP = 3.
Ammonia - A highly efficient refrigerant, that has been used in industrial applications for many years and with success. It is however, highly toxic and very careful consideration must be given to any design or application.
Refrigerants should only be handled and used by competent and trained persons.
The design, application and safe use of all refrigerant based systems, together with control measures is covered by BS EN378. This standard supersedes BS4434.
It is a criminal offence to release refrigerants to atmosphere and all existing system charges must be reclaimed or recovered by approved companies for either re-use, recycling or controlled destruction.
REFCOM is the register of competent companies assessed to safely handle and manage refrigerants correctly. See Links page.
Legislation is constantly changing and therefore Cool Projects Ltd cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies in the information here presented. For the latest information regarding refrigerants contact us.
Or visit DTI or other Government web sites.
The phasing out of HFC and HCFC refrigerants is explained in a downloadable pdf booklet issued by the UK Government, covering the use and phasing out of CFC and HCFC refrigerants.
Cool Projects Limited
13 Alexandra Road, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 6BU
Tel: 01252 542 100 Fax: 01252 549 200