Making sense of synthetic refrigerants and their replacements.

For those that may have missed it the world of synthetic refrigerants is undergoing pretty significant changes.

Increasing global pressure from consumers and regulators on fluorinated or F-Gases has meant significant scrutiny of the effect of halocarbons on the environment.

Halocarbons are gases often used as refrigerants and are broken into:

  • CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons): R11, R12, R113, R502
  • HCFCs (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons): R22, R123
  • HFCs (Hydrofluorocarbons): R134a, R404a, R407F, R438A, R410a, R507

These gases contain varying levels of fluorocarbons that have been identified as depleting the ozone layer with much focus on removing refrigerants with a high Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) from the environment. CFC’s and HCFC’s are both identified as ozone depleting and both are now banned.

Because of these changes HFC’s such as 438A and 407F have often been used as substitute synthetic refrigerants due to their lower ODP. However, attention is now focused on HFC’s high Global Warming Potential (GWP), with European countries now shifting regulations from containment of these refrigerants to limiting their use and implementing bans. This increasing global regulation is also seeing these synthetic gases experiencing on going price increases and shortages.

F Gas Regulations in Europe are a key indicator of what will happen in this market with much of what becomes available driven by GWP ratings. Looking at the regulations it’s important to understand in Europe:

  • 2020 Refrigerant’s with a GWP over 2000 are gone
  • 2022 Refrigerant over the GWP of 1000 are gone
  • By 2030 all refrigerants must be under 500GWP

With the majority of suppliers and manufacturers producing or competing in the European market, it doesn’t take long to understand what is likely to happen here and ensuring you invest in new systems that will be future proofed against further HFC phase downs will be critical.

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