Refrigerants: What is it?

Air conditioning wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for refrigerants. It is what keeps air conditioning systems cold. Inside the coils of these air conditioning units, this refrigerant liquid agents dehumidify and cool indoor air. These substance or mixture, undergoes phase transition from liquid to gas and back to liquid again. Up until now, R-22 refrigerant have been used to keep such systems cool. However, in response to environmental concerns for the ozone layer, this specific refrigerant is currently being avoided and phased out.

Environmental Issue:
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) also known as Freon and Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) are not flammable or toxic; however, they raise concerns for potential global warming and ozone layer depletion. Although there are other refrigerants that are non-ozone depleting, many have high potential to assist global warming. Other refrigerants such as propane and ammonia can be used as well, but are flammable and toxic when released. Currently, there are many new refrigerants being developed that are safe to humans and to the environment but are being held up by regulatory concerns.

The old standard vs. The new standard:
Since R-22 is a HCFC compound, it is being phased out by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) because it contains ozone-depleting chlorine. As of 2010, the use of R-22 is prohibited and the production must cease by 2020. Many companies now are going with R-410A refrigerant. This EPA-recognized chlorine-free R-410A refrigerant contains no chlorine, considered as ozone-friendly. These provide an environmental benefit as the systems that uses these refrigerants are quieter, more reliable, dehumidification process improved, and enhanced performance of both heating and cooling units.

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