What is the Refrigerant of the Future?

If you pay attention to trends in sustainability, then you know that, these days, folks in essentially every industry are looking for ways to be cleaner, be more socially responsible and leave as small of an environmental impact as possible. Believe it or not, that ethos extends even to companies offering commercial refrigeration repair in Florida. A big part of our job is understanding how the chemicals we use impact the planet.

Unfortunately, the refrigerants in wide use today, most of which are part of the hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) family, are damaging to the Earth’s ozone layer. Because of this, many leaders in our industry are looking for the “refrigerant of the future,” a more sustainable alternative to HCFCs. Here is a look at five refrigerants that just might be the future of refrigeration:

  • Ammonia: In its refrigerant form, ammonia is a completely colorless, odorless liquid or gas. While ammonia is much better for the Earth’s ozone layer than the refrigerants currently in wide use today, it is not without its dangers. Ammonia can cause damage to refrigeration equipment when it is contaminated with impurities, and it can also be toxic if ingested in large quantities.
  • Hydrocarbon: Hydrocarbon could well be the refrigerant of the future, as it hits virtually every requirement. It is completely natural, and it’s also nontoxic. No ozone depleting properties have been found in hydrocarbon, and it is said to have a minimal negative effect on global warming. It is even less costly to use than current refrigerants. Perhaps the only downside is that, being a fossil fuel, hydrocarbon can become flammable if not treated correctly.
  • Difluoroethane: Also referred to as simply DFE, difluoroethane is a member of the HCFC family. However, compared to most HCFCs on the market today, DFE has a much lower global warming potential, and its ozone depletion potential is essentially zero. Those who want to continue using HCFC refrigerants but also want to be more sustainable might consider switching to DFE.
  • Tetrafluoropropene: Also known as HFO-1234yf, tetrafluoropropene is a relative newcomer to the world of refrigerants. Originally developed to meet new European standards in 2011, this refrigerant is considered especially ideal for automobile air conditioning systems. Its global warming potential is only a small fraction of other common refrigerants on the market, making it another sustainable choice.
  • Propane: Also known as R-290, propane as a refrigerant has no ozone depletion potential, and its negative effects on climate change are very low compared to more common refrigerants. However, it is fairly flammable, meaning that the American market has been reluctant to embrace its use as a refrigerant. That being said, propane refrigerant is in wide use in developing countries, meaning it could very well be the refrigerant of the future.

While there is no one clear refrigerant of the future right now, there are several promising options that could have a huge positive effect on our environment. If you want to do business with a company that provides commercial refrigeration repair in Florida while being on the cutting edge of sustainability, we hope you will consider hiring 5 Star Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc.