Refrigerant gas is used in various applications. Freezers, refrigerators, air-conditioners – and yes, even many heaters – make use of refrigerant gas to operate.
Refrigerant gases are chemicals – sealed within appliances such as fridges -which are condensed at relatively high pressure but have low evaporation points. By continually passing through a cycle of evaporation and condensation of the gas – all within a sealed loop – heat is removed from the air where the refrigeration cycle is occurring. This results in a net cooling of the fridge, freezer or air-conditioned area.
Many refrigerant gases are rather controversial as they have been implicated first in releasing ozone destroying chlorine, and more recently is being contributors to global warming.
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) such as R-22 – more commonly known as Freon – were long the go to choice for refrigerant for heat pump and A/C systems. In recent times however R22 is being phased out in favor of products that contribute less to ozone depletion. Today purchasing HCFC-22 (another name for R-22) is very expensive, and it may only be used for servicing old equipment.
R-410A is one of the more common A/C refrigerants that have come to replace R-22. This hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) is ozone friendly, but still -like R22 – does contribute chemicals which are net contributors to global warming. R410A is easily available these days, and is frequently sold with branding names such as PuronŽ, Forane 410AŽ, SUVA 410AŽ or GENETRON AZ-20Ž.
Another commonly used refrigerant outside of the United States is R-407C. This refrigerant gas sees a lot of use in Europe, and unlike R410A – which operates at much higher pressures – is suitable for R-22 retrofits.
R-12 was another chlorinated refrigerant – primarily used in automotive A/C and in small refrigerators – that has also been phased out due to the negative effects it had on the ozone layer. Phased out in the late 1990s, it has largely been replaced with R-134A. Tetrafluoroethane – the chemical name for R134A refrigerant – is often referred to as Suva 134aA, HFC-134A and Genetron 134A.
Ammonia (R-717) is another common – if old school – refrigerant. R717 has been used in industrial scale refrigeration plants for well over 100 years, and is considered relatively efficient and environmentally friendly. Many low budget automotive refrigerators make use of Ammonia absorption cycle technology.
Propane is another refrigerant gas that has gained popularity in recent times. Very pure propane has a lot of potential as a substitute in older systems originally designed for use with R22 refrigerant gas. It does have limitations however, as it can be flammable in the wrong conditions.