New Refrigerants are Coming

The United States Environment Protection Agency (EPA) in 2014 published proposed changes in the regulating of refrigerants.

This initiative is driven by the goal to enhance ozone layer protection and reduce global warming and is part of the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP).

Environmentally friendly refrigerantsSNAP is the EPA’s program to evaluate and regulate substitutes for the ozone-depleting or global warming chemicals that are being phased out under the stratospheric ozone protection provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA). For more detailed information about SNAP, you can visit the official website here.

The goal of the proposed changes is to reduce the use of chemicals, in this case refrigerants, which have high ozone depleting or global warming properties or potential. These are commonly referred to as ODP and GWP, respectively. The identified refrigerants are to be replaced with compounds displaying zero or very low ODP and very low GWP. According to these recommendations, many of the refrigerants we use today will be banned. The proposed changes include the elimination of134A and 404A, two refrigerants common in display freezers and coolers used in North America today.

As it stands today, these refrigerants will be replaced with what is known as natural refrigerants.

The best new refrigerantsThese include Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Propane R290 and Butane R600a. CO2 offers challenges in that  system operating pressures are much higher than the other refrigerants. R290 & R600a are hydrocarbons, and hydrocarbons are highly flammable. Potential safety issues have been an ongoing point of controversy for consumer protection advocates and business owners in North America. However, these refrigerants have been in use across Europe, Asia and South America for more than a decade. Hundreds of thousands of units, including residential products, have proven entirely safe and highly efficient. Over time, this concern seems to be diminishing substantially in North America.

Based on the relatively small amount of gas being used in a refrigeration circuit (5.3 ounces) and the precautions taken in designing the equipment for flammable refrigerants, a mounting body of evidence shows these refrigerants can be used safely while eliminating the environmental impact of traditional refrigeration products.

For more information about the environmentally friendly elements of your next set of commercial refrigerators, contact a member of the expert team at Minus Forty.

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