In this article, we discuss the top 13 Environmentally Friendly Refrigerants
To start with, refrigerant is a liquid that aids refrigeration by undergoing a physical process of evaporation by absorbing heat from the surrounding environment and evaporating. Refrigerants cold the air inside an HVAC system.
The refrigerants used previous were found to be toxic and dangerous having high Global Warming Potential (GWP) and depletes the ozone layer.
Some of these refrigerants are R12 (Freon-12, or dichlorodifluoromethane) and R22 (chlorofluoromethane) which were introduced in the 1930s and were known for being stable and nonflammable and could be only broken by ultraviolet light.
Because of the problem of high Global Warming Potential (GWP) and high Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP), a better refrigerant was needed to be used which would cause minimal or no effect to our ecosystem.
Fortunately, refrigerants that cause very minimal or no effect to the environment continue to be discovered, tested and developed every time.
What are environmentally friendly refrigerants?
Environmentally friendly refrigerants are simply refrigerants that have minimal or no harm to the environment. These refrigerants have very low Global Warming Potential (GWP) and have little or no impact on the ozone layer.
Environmentally friendly refrigerants affect the ecosystem the least. They release 45% lesser CO2 compared to other refrigerants.
Top 13 Environmentally Friendly Refrigerants
Below are listed 13 Environmentally Friendly Refrigerants:
- R449A Refrigerant
- R454A Refrigerant
- R1233zd Refrigerant
- R1234ZE Refrigerant
- R1234yf Refrigerant
- R32 Refrigerant
- R450A (N13) Refrigerant
- R455A Refrigerant
- R464 Refrigerant
- R717 Refrigerant (Ammonia)
- R600A Refrigerant (Isobutane)
- R1336mzz(Z) refrigerant
- R513A (XP10) Refrigerant
1. R449A Refrigerant
Refrigerant R449A is a zeotropic HFO refrigerant gotten from the combination of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) and hydro fluoro-olefin (HFO), it’s not complete without composition of R32 (24%), R125 (25%), and R1234yf (25%) gases.
This refrigerant is one of the non-toxic, non-flammable and environmentally friendly refrigerants. This environmentally friendly refrigerant contains no chlorine and has zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 1397.
This low value in GWP makes R449A an environmentally friendly option compared to R404A and R507A achieving ~64% lower GWP to R404A. Its low GWP offers excellent cooling properties, higher energy efficiency and sustainable environmental properties.
R449A boasts of a quick, cost-effective retrofit to R449A having a 4% lower energy consumption at higher temperatures (32⁰C) comparing to R404A.
Applications of R449A
- Low- and medium-temperature commercial and industrial DX refrigeration
- Centralized and distributed systems for supermarkets, coolers, and freezers
- Condensing units
- Cold stores
- New equipment/retrofit of existing systems.
2. R454A Refrigerant
R454A Refrigerant is one of the environmentally friendly refrigerants with a good performance with a low GWP of 239. R454A is mildly flammable and compared to R404A has a 94% decreases in Global Warming Potential (GWP).
R454A replaces R404A and R507A in new systems including condensing cooling, direct expansion of low- and medium-temperature commercial and industrial refrigeration systems giving an optimal balance, better performance and higher cooling power and is because R454A refrigerants have more R32.
Applications of R454A
- Low- and medium-temperature commercial, industrial, and transport refrigeration systems
- Distributed systems for supermarkets, coolers, and freezers
- Condensing units for medium- and low-temperature applications
- Cold stores
3. R1233zd Refrigerant
R1233zd refrigerant is one of the hydro fluoro-olefin (HFO) environmentally friendly refrigerants with a suitable low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 6 and has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) ranging from 0.00024 to 0.00034.
R1233zd Refrigerant is one of the newly introduced environmentally friendly refrigerants which meets recent regulatory compliance. It is non-flammable for pressure centrifuges and offers an equal efficiency to R123 but has a better capacity.
R1233 was initially designed as a blowing agent or foam propellant. It has now replaced R123 and is used for industrial air conditioning applications, the cooling of buildings and other high capacity chillers.
Apart from the fact that R1233zd has a very low GWP and ODP, it is non-toxic.
4. R1234ZE refrigerant
R1234ze refrigerant is one of the hydro fluoro-olefin (HFO) environmentally friendly refrigerants with a significantly low Global Warming Potential (GWP). A very good option when taking into consideration the environmental impact of refrigerants and recent regulatory compliance.
R1234ze is one of the environmentally friendly refrigerants used as a replacement for R134A. And R1234ze replaces R134A in medium temperature refrigeration and air conditioning applications including water coolers.
Compared to the GWP of 1300 R134A has which is detrimental to the environment, R1234ze has a GWP of 7. Though it’s larger and operates at a lower speed (rpm), it provides the same cooling capacity as R134A.
According to HVAC literature comparing R1234ze with R134A,
“A comparison of the compressor size and speed indicates that the R1234ze chiller compressor is larger in size and operates at a lower speed (rpm) for the same chiller capacity”.
Applications OF R1234ze
- Foam Blowing Applications
- Industrial Air Conditioning
- Commercial Air Conditioning
- Commercial Refrigeration
5. R1234yf Refrigerant
Refrigerant R1234yf is one of the hydro fluoro-olefin (HFO) environmentally friendly refrigerants that have minimal global warming impact and no damage to the ozone layer making it an environmentally friendly refrigerant.
This environmentally friendly refrigerant is a class A2L refrigerant making it mildly flammable so, it needs to be operated with ignition-proof tools.
R1234yf is used as a replacement for R134A in the air conditioning of vehicles. And because this refrigerant has an acceptably low Global Warming Potential (GWP) at about 99.7% decrease compared to R134A, it is used as the next generation refrigerant for automotive air conditioning.
R1234yf is a necessary component for the air conditioning of cars and trucks. R134A was used to replace R12 because of its adverse environmental impact, but because R1234yf has a significantly lower environmental impact than R123A.
R1234A has the same operating pressure and temperature system characteristics as R134A, it was adopted though you cannot retrofit R134A for R1234yf because there are not compatible, new systems were produced to use R1234yf refrigerant which can be found in most new cars.
R134A systems are not compatible with R1234yf because R134A system was not designed to operate using a flammable refrigerant and the two refrigerant has different coupling Systems.
6. R32 Refrigerant
R32 is one of the environmentally friendly refrigerants which is a good replacement for R22 and R410. it has a low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 675 which is 30% of that of R410A, R32 has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0.
Compared to R410A, R32 is much easier to recycle, is more cost-effective and efficient. R32 is one of the safest refrigerants having an acute exposure limit of 220,000ppm meaning it would need to be in high concentration to having adverse effects on man.
Compared to R410A, R32 have a higher cooling capacity and desired temperature faster. R32 systems use lesser refrigerant compared to R410A systems. R32 is applied in low-temperature refrigeration and air conditioning systems.
7. R450A (N13) Refrigerant
R450A is one of the azeotropic environmentally friendly refrigerants blend containing R134a and HFO1234ze is an environmentally friendly refrigerant that is used as a replacement for R134A.
It has a low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 547 which is almost 60% of that of R134A, R450A has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0.
R450A is of medium pressure, high efficiency, safe, non-flammable and has an energy-efficient alternative to R134a. R450A has a 100% efficiency and demonstrates an 87% capacity compared to R134A refrigerant.
R450A refrigerants are in a wide range of new and retrofitting applications including water coolers, cold storages, industrial process refrigeration, refrigerant transport, heat pumps, industrial air conditioning systems, air-cooled and water-cooled chillers.
R450A is of lower discharge temperature than R134a and have a higher coefficient of performance at higher ambient temperature providing energy savings.
8. R455A Refrigerant
R455A is an azeotropic refrigerant blend is one of the environmentally friendly refrigerants that is used as a replacement for R22 and R404A in new low, medium and high-temperature systems.
It has a very low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 146, R455A has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0.
R455A is slightly flammable and is of a close capacity match to R404A, they have an extended operating envelope when compared to propane or air conditioning refrigerants.
They have high energy efficiency, high critical temperature, low critical pressure, low discharge temperature and 30% lower mass flow compared to R404A/R507A.
R455A can be applied in commercial refrigeration, low-temperature applications and can be used across many segments of the HVACR industry.
9. R464A Refrigerant
R464A is one of the environmentally friendly refrigerants which is used as a replacement for R404A. it has a low Global Warming Potential (GWP), low toxicity and is non-flammable. R450A has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0.
In addition, and due to its non-flammability, RS-100 is suitable to replace R404A in existing equipment, with no changes to the hardware or the lubricant required.
10. R717 Refrigerant (Ammonia)
Ammonia NH3 is one of the natural refrigerants available and one of the best environmentally friendly refrigerants due to its energy efficiency which can help you save a lot of money, it’s also one of the oldest refrigerants which was commercially used in places where toxicity is secondary.
Ammonia is slightly flammable and toxic in large quantities making it not to be used in residential and commercial applications. Ammonia has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0 and also a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 0.
Ammonia is very useful because of its efficiency in absorbing heat, it’s mostly used in industries with air-conditioning equipment.
Advantages of Ammonia Over CFCs and HCFCs
- Construction of an Ammonia-based refrigeration system is 10-20% less in cost than CFCs because of narrower-diameter piping used.
- Ammonia is 3-10% more efficient than CFCs
- Ammonia is safe for the environment.
Disadvantages to Using Ammonia as a Refrigerant
- It is not compatible with copper, so it cannot be used in any system with copper pipes.
- Ammonia is poisonous in high concentrations
11. R600A Refrigerant (Isobutane)
R600A Refrigerant (Isobutane) is one of the environmentally friendly refrigerants which is flammable, has a very low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 3, and Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0.
It’s not toxic making it extremely safe is one of the most popular environmentally friendly refrigerants used today.
It’s not suitable for retrofitting older refrigeration systems because of its flammability but it’s better than R12. It is used to replace R12, R13a, R22, hydrofluorocarbon and chlorofluorocarbon.
Because of its environmentally friendly nature, R600A has become a good choice for both domestic and commercial refrigerants. R600A is a hydrocarbon refrigerant.
Properties of R600a
- R600a does not cause the greenhouse effect.
- R600a has a very strong cooling performance.
- The power consumption of R600a is low.
- R600a has a low speed of load temperature rise.
- R600a is compatible with various lubricants.
Applications of R600a
- R600a is used in industrial refrigeration.
- R600a is used in vending machines and plug-ins.
- R600a is used in geothermal power generation.
- R600a also finds its application in aerosol sprays.
- R600a is used in the petrochemical industry as a feedstock.
- R600a has an application in beverage dispensers.
- R600a has an application in dehumidifiers.
- R600a is also used in food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers)
12. R1336mzz(Z) Refrigerant
R1336mzz(Z) refrigerant is one of the environmentally friendly refrigerants which is non-flammable, has a very low Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 2 and it’s not toxic making it extremely safe.
R1336mzz(Z) is usually used as an alternative for R245FAIt is mostly used for centrifugal coolers and high temperature hears pumps.
R1336mzz(Z) has an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0. This environmentally friendly refrigerant is very special because low GWP refrigerants are often flammable but R1336mzz(Z) is non-flammable and have an ultra-low GWP.
R1336mzz(Z) is very useful in the design of high condensing temperature systems because of the possibility of running the operation at a low temperature.
13. R513A (XP10) Refrigerant
R513A is azeotropic low-GWP, and non-Ozone depletion and one of the environmentally friendly refrigerants which were produced to replace R134A in new refrigeration systems.
R513A has similar functions as R134A in terms of its cooling and heating water temperatures, physical and thermodynamic properties. This environmentally friendly refrigerant is a blend containing R1234yf and R134a.
R513A can be a substitute for retrofitting in many systems. Compared to R134A, R513A is non-flammable and compatible with polyester oil (for oil-dependent R513A systems).
As a replacement for R134A in new and retrofit systems and applications, R513A operate with a well reduced environmental impact it’s cost-effective. R513A is non-flammable and can be used for retrofitting in new installations. It has no effects on the stratosphere.
Applications of R513 Refrigerant
- Medium temperature commercial and industrial refrigeration systems
- Medium temperature circuit of cascade systems
- Water chillers, air conditioning systems, and heat pumps
- What are refrigerants used for?
Refrigerants are used for cooling process fluids to lower temperatures than those obtained from cooled water. They are used in refrigerators/freezers, air-conditioning, and fire suppression systems.
- Is R134a refrigerant environmentally friendly?
According to studies, R22 (hydrochlorofluorocarbon 22 (HCFC-22)) refrigerant also known as Freon though has a relatively low Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) of 0.055.
It is a powerful greenhouse gas having a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 1810 which has a capacity of depleting the ozone layer. This factor makes R22 not to be environmentally friendly.
- Is R22 refrigerant environmentally friendly?
R134a (1,1,1,2-tetra-fluoro ethane) though has an insignificant Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP), it is a powerful greenhouse gas having a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 1430 which has a capacity of depleting the ozone layer.
It takes about 13 years to break down the core chemical components of R134a. This factor makes R134 not to be environmentally friendly.