WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it is increasing the options for refrigerants used in various types of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in the United States to offer alternatives with low global warming potential (GWP). This final rule addresses refrigerants under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program to identify and approve additional “climate-friendly” refrigerants.
Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA’s SNAP program evaluates substitute chemicals and technologies. This final rule expands the list of SNAP-approved substitutes to include more low-GWP alternatives that can replace both ozone-depleting substances and high-GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The approved substitutes have GWPs that range from 3 to 675 and can replace older compounds with GWPs between 1,400 to 4,000.
The EPA said that, after receiving input from industry, environmental groups, and others, it is approving additional low-GWP refrigerants, subject to use conditions, in the following refrigeration and air conditioning applications:
• Ethane in very low temperature refrigeration and in non-mechanical heat transfer;
• Isobutane in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers) and in vending machines;
• Propane in household refrigerators, freezers, or combination refrigerators and freezers, in vending machines, and in room air conditioning units;
• The hydrocarbon blend R-441A in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers), in vending machines, and in room air conditioning units; and
• HFC-32 (difluoromethane) in room air conditioning units. EPA said HFC-32 has one-third the GWP of current refrigerants being used in room air conditioning units.
The agency noted that these alternative refrigerants are already in use in many of these applications in Europe and Asia.
In addition to adding these alternatives, EPA is also exempting all of these substances, except HFC-32, from the Clean Air Act venting prohibition, as current evidence suggests that their venting, release, or disposal does not pose a threat to the environment.
For more information about EPA’s SNAP program and this rule, visit www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/index.html.
Publication date: 3/2/2015