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US authorities give green light to five low-GWP refrigerants

The US Environmental Protection Agency has given final authorisation to the use of three hydrocarbons, an HFO blend and R32.

The decision under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program, which identifies and approves additional climate-friendly chemicals, is expected to see a wave of commercial development using the refrigerants.

The approved substitutes have GWPs that range from 3 to 675 and can replace refrigerants with GWPs between 1400 to 4000.
“The rule is an example of how we can turn the challenge of climate change into an opportunity to innovate our way to a better future,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.

“By working together, businesses and EPA are bringing new, climate-friendly refrigerants to market that better protect our health and the environment.”

The EPA said that after receiving input from industry, environmental groups, and others, it is approving additional low-GWP hydrocarbon refrigerants, subject to use conditions, in the following refrigeration and air conditioning applications:

• Ethane (R170) in very low temperature refrigeration and in non-mechanical heat transfer;
• Isobutane (R600a) in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers) and in vending machines;
• Propane (R290)  in household refrigerators, freezers, or combination refrigerators and freezers, in vending machines, and in room air conditioning units;
• The hydrocarbon blend R441A in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers), in vending machines and in room air conditioning units; and
• R32  in room air conditioning units. R32 has one-third the GWP of the conventional refrigerants currently being used in room air conditioning units.
In addition to adding these climate-friendly alternatives, EPA is also exempting all of these substances, except R32, 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, it said.

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