This blog post will close out the series on Quality Installation. But I didn’t want to move on without taking a high level look at the future of refrigerant. One thing is certain in this segment of our industry. And that is change is inevitable.
The focus on refrigerant within the HVAC industry has been and continues to be environmental compatibility and efficiency.
- Changes in refrigerant regulation are being driven by a constantly evolving understanding of how the various chemicals that make up current refrigerant options impact the earth’s atmosphere.
- From an environmental perspective, ozone depletion and global warming potential (GWP) are the reference points used to determine the acceptability for the long-term use of refrigerants.
CFC (chlorofluorocarbons) like R-12 and HCFC (hydrofluorocarbons) like R-22 were among the first refrigerants identified for phase-out based on their impact on the ozone.
HFC (hydrofluorocarbons) like R-410A were initially viewed as long-term replacements for HCFC refrigerants.
- However, the future of R-410A is also now in question due to its global warming potential.
HFO (hydrofluoroolifin) and HC (hydrocarbon) refrigerants are emerging as next generation refrigerants based on environmental friendliness, energy efficiency and their ability to be produced and used as cost effective retrofits.
In an effort to ensure that new refrigerants are environmentally acceptable, the HVAC industry has launched the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute’s (AHRI’s) Low GLP Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program (AREP) to investigate replacement refrigerants.
- Refrigerant manufacturers have submitted a number of new refrigerant candidates to AREP for testing and the evaluation process.
- As an example, a potential replacement for R-410A in certain U.S. markets is R-32.
- R-32, which is a slightly flammable HFC, is already in use in several Asian markets.
It’s reasonable to anticipate changes in the chemical composition of refrigerants used in the HVAC industry for the foreseeable future. Stay tuned. I’m sure there is much more change on the horizon.