Multiple Choice in Refrigerants

September 24, 2012
A hot topic in the world of refrigeration and air conditioning continues to swirl around refrigerants and what refrigerants will take hold and be used now, besides HFCs, and what will supplant HFCs in the future. Some of the articles in this issue of FROSTlines look at these subjects.

Elsewhere in this FROSTlines is an item about a new website devoted to the use of water as a refrigerant for HVACR equipment. This goes along with the already commonly talked about natural refrigerants of ammonia, CO2, and HCs of which much has been written and will continue to be written.

I’m not sure how water will enter into the natural equation, but all things natural will continue to grow in attention and applications.

One area where it may not take a high profile is with chiller technology. At least that was the comment from one of the presenters at the Purdue conferences related to HVACR that took place this summer, the concurrent 21st Compressor Engineering, 14th International Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, and the 2nd High Performance Building conferences.

And factoring into that was the announcement (also in this issue of FROSTlines) that an HFO refrigerant was being used in chiller technology in England.

HFOs are synthetic refrigerants being promoted as the next generation of alternatives to HFCs as pressure mounts to phase out the use of HFCs due to global warming issues. Advocates contend HFOs would work in more applications more efficiently than natural refrigerants, a position not held by the natural proponents.

In the end, the marketplace as well as regulations will sort all this out. One thing seems to be clear: There will be no one winner like there was when HCFCs replaced CFCs, and HFCs replaced HCFCs.

The replacement for HFCs should there need to be one will be ammonia and CO2 and HCs and HFOs, and maybe, just maybe, H2O.

Publication date: 9/24/2012