Commercially Used Refrigerants & their Environmental Effects:
R-134a, also known as tetraflouroethane, is probably the most commonly used refrigerant around the world in residential refrigerators and in automobiles.R134-a, which is a HFC (hydro fluorocarbons) refrigerant, has a boiling point of -26.3?C. Automobile air conditioning systems in most countries use R-134a as a refrigerant.
• R-134a has no ODP (Ozone Depletion Potential), hence it is not an ozone depleting refrigerant.
• But R-134a does have a significant GWP (Global Warming Potential) of 1430. This is because of its greenhouse gas-like effect, which traps heat into the Earth’s environment, hence inducing climate change.
R-12(Dichlorodifluoromethane) could effectively be called R-134a’s predecessor as it was very commonly used commercially all around the globe in air conditioning systems. R-12 is one of the CFC (Chlorofluorocarbon) refrigerants that were eventually banned in the late 1980s.
• At the time of its advent, R-12 was non-toxic, non-flammable and inert.
• But with time it was discovered that it was massively harmful for the ozone layer, the chlorine atoms splits the extra oxygen atoms in the composition of ozone.
• CFCs like R-12 were banned in the late 1980s due to their high ODPs. (ODP of R-12= 1)
R-410a (Forane 410a), is also an HFC like R134-a, and is widely used in home air conditioning systems around the world. Having a boiling point of -52?C, this refrigerant also became popular after the decrease in usage of CFCs. It has become the main refrigerant used in home and commercial systems made in or after 2010.
• R-410a has zero ODP; hence ozone layer has no danger due to its usage.
• But due to its high GWP of 2088, it is considered harmful when it comes to climate change and global warming.
R-22 (Chlorodifluoromethane) could similarly be stated as the predecessor of R-410a, as it was also phased out due to its high ODP. R-22 (BP -40.9?C) was very commonly used before 2010 and is still used in a lot of countries in household air conditioning systems as well as some larger commercial HVAC systems. R-22is a HCFC (hydro chlorofluorocarbon)
• R-22 has an ODP of 0.05, which shows how harmful it is for the ozone layer.
• R-22 also has a GWP of 1810 which describes that it is disadvantageous when it comes to climate change.
R-290 is propane gas, commonly used for a wide array of applications like powering oven, stoves etc besides being used as a refrigerant. R-290 has a BP of -42?C.
• R-290 has a GWP of only 3. And zero ODP.
• Despite being very favorable in terms of environmental effects, R-290 is not used very commonly because of one big issue, that it is flammable.
R-32 is a HFC like R-410a and R-134a. It is being used as an alternative to R410-a in several countries in residential home systems.
• R-32, like most HFCs, has a zero ODP.
• R-32 is being preferred over R410-a in some regions due to its comparatively lower GWP of 675.
• Therefore, in addition to not being harmful for the ozone layer, it also is comparatively less harmful in terms of global warming.
R-600a is isobutene gas. Which is being pushed for use as a energy efficient and green refrigerant. It is not very common but it one of the faster growing refrigerants with respect to usage.
• R-600a has zero ODP and a GWP of only 3.
• Like R-290, the only issue with R-600a is ease-of-use given that it is highly flammable.
R-404a is a HFC primarily used in transport refrigeration. Like R-134a and R-410a, it gained popularity due to its low ODP but is now slowly being phased out due to its higher GWP.
• R-404a has no ODP; hence it is safe when it comes to ozone depletion.
• But having a GWP of 3922, it is quite harmful with respect to climate change and global warming.
R-407c is a zoetropic mixture of several refrigerants. It has a BP of -43.6?C. Though not as common as some other refrigerants on this list, it is used in HVAC systems around the world.
• R-407c has an ODP of zero.
• R-407c has a GWP of 1774.
R-1234yf (Tetrafluoropropene) is a relatively new refrigerant which is being marketed as a green replacement for R-134a. It belongs to a new class of refrigerants called HFOs (Hydrofluoroolefins).
• R-1234yf has a GWP of just 4.
• R-1234yf has an ODP of zero.