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Refrigerant choice shouldn't be based on one factor, says international association

Refrigerant choice should not be evaluated on just one factor, but based on cost effectiveness in the intended application, energy efficiency, global warning potential, and safety.

That’s the opinion of the International Council of Air Conditioning, Refrigeration, and Heating Manufacturers Associations (ICARHMA), which cumulatively represents manufacturers of air conditioning, refrigeration, and heating equipment in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Europe, India, Japan, Korea, and the United States, which has also released guide on responsible use of refrigerants

In a nod to the issue of natural refrigerant debate, it states “Refrigerants should be selected on an individual application basis. That selection shopuld never be based on just one factor, such as GWP.

It adds that usage costs should be broken down into three categories – initial and subsequent refrigerant costs, change-over cost and environmental cost. Adding, that while countries adhere to the Montreal Protocol and the phase-out of all ozone depleting substances, it is important to consider all criteria when selecting refrigerants for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment.

Usage costs to the user and to the environment should also be broken down into initial and subsequent refrigerant costs, change-over cost and environmental costs.

Criteria in evaluating the use of any refrigerant:

  • Intended Application. Refrigerants are used in numerous applications, and even though one refrigerant might be the best overall choice for a specific application, it might make a poor choice for another. Refrigerants should be selected on an individual application basis. That selection should never be based on just one factor, e.g. GWP, performance.
  • Performance. Any evaluation requires considering the performance and energy usage of equipment with potential refrigerants. Having a low GWP refrigerant may not reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions if the equipment using the low GWP refrigerant uses more energy since CO2 emissions are a by-product of electric power generation. Research is necessary to determine operational efficiency and material compatibility of refrigerants.
  • Safety. Issues of safety including flammability, toxicity, operating pressures, and corrosiveness must be considered when evaluating refrigerants.

Responsible use of refrigerants

ICARHMA members believe that responsible use is based on a number of principles:

  • Design, select, install and operate to optimize energy efficiency.
  • Contain refrigerants in secure or closed systems and containers minimizing releases into the atmosphere.
  • Encourage monitoring after installations to minimize direct refrigerant emissions and maintenance of equipment to maintain energy efficiency.
  • Train all personnel in proper refrigerant handling.
  • Comply with standards on refrigerant safety, proper installation and maintenance.
  • Repair, retrofit, or replace equipment with refrigerant leaks.
  • Recover, recycle, and reclaim refrigerants.Establish safe disposal requirements to ensure removal of refrigerants from equipment that enters the waste stream.

 Promote and encourage improved equipment energy efficiency and reduced refrigerant

charge when technically feasible and economically justified.

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