COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Medium temperature commercial refrigeration equipment designed to use hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant R-410A performed better in a life cycle climate performance (LCCP) analysis than equipment designed for propane, a flammable hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerant with special safety requirements, according to a study by the Center for Environmental Energy Engineering (CEEE) at the University of Maryland.

The study showed that a system using R-410A achieved lower environmental impact during the entire life cycle of the fluid and the equipment, including power consumption, than a system using R-290 (propane). The LCCP analysis of R-410A was 4.2 percent lower than propane.

The 31-page study titled "Comparison of Hydrocarbon R-290 and Two HFC Blends R-404A and R-410A for Medium Temperature Refrigeration Applications" is available for free download at The study is part of the Global Refrigerant Environmental Evaluation Network (GREEN) analysis of the relative performance potential of R-290 to two HFC refrigerants (R-404A and R-410A) for medium temperature commercial refrigeration under the auspices of the International Council of Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Manufacturers Associations (ICARMA).

Findings from the study include:

  • On an equal first cost basis, the LCCP (the lower the value, the lower the environmental impact) of R-410A is 4.2 percent lower and the LCCP of R-404A is 1.8 percent higher than that of R-290. The underlying assumption is that the first cost of the R-290 system may be, for example, 10 percent higher due to added safety features, and on an equal cost basis, the HFC systems would use the additional cost for a larger condenser.

  • Since a conservative safety cost estimate is used, it is expected that the environmental impact of both R-404A and R-410A would be reduced further as compared to R-290 in future system designs. In addition, R-410A holds the potential for additional optimization using smaller tube diameter to improve heat transfer with reduced charge and improved burst pressure capability.

    GREEN is a worldwide refrigerant evaluation initiative set up to test HFCs and other refrigerants such as ammonia, propane, and butane in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment and compare the results on an equal basis. GREEN's goal is to work collectively with refrigerant manufacturers, testing laboratories, and air conditioning and refrigeration trade associations from Europe, China, Japan, and Canada to measure refrigerant systems' performance while taking into account energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, practicality, and safety.

    For more information about the report, contact the report author, Reinhard Radermacher at, or Bill Tritsis, ARI certification engineer, at

    Publication date: 04/12/2004