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Selecting a New Refrigerant — Current and Future Options

RajanRajendran2 Rajan Rajendran | V.P., System Innovation Center and Sustainability

Emerson Commercial & Residential Solutions

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled New Refrigerant Alternatives Available Today.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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Whether you’re an OEM or an end user, selecting an alternative refrigerant for new commercial refrigeration platforms is not an easy decision. From installation and servicing requirements to performance, environmental and economic impacts, there are many factors to consider — including the complexities of the regulatory climate.

Since the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2015 decision to change the status of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants, the list of acceptable refrigerant alternatives has continued to expand. The ruling set forth specific change of status dates whereby HFCs will no longer be permitted in various commercial refrigeration equipment classes. Not only do the dates vary among these equipment classes, but there are multiple refrigerant options available within each specific application. And as these HFC phase-down timelines approach, we expect that the EPA will continue to introduce through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program new synthetic alternatives that offer incremental reductions in GWP levels.

It’s a lot to keep track of, and easy to see why the refrigerant issue — including past, current and future options — has proved particularly difficult for our industry to sort out. To help you analyze the available options and evaluate how they will impact you, we’ve assembled a list of refrigerant alternatives per commercial refrigeration application, as defined by EPA equipment classifications.

Future A2L alternatives

To meet the growing demand for lower-GWP refrigerants, chemical manufacturers have developed a new class of synthetic refrigerants called A2Ls with a GWP less than 150. While several manufacturers have submitted these “mildly flammable” blends for SNAP approval, none of these alternatives have yet to be listed as acceptable for use in commercial refrigeration applications by the EPA. A degree of flammability is a result of attempts to reach the very low GWP levels.

A2L Refrigerant designed to replace GWP
ARM-25 R-404A < 150
R-454A R-404A/R-22 238
R-454C R-404A/R-22 148
R-457A R-404A/R-22 139
R-515A HFC-134a 392
R-516A Near drop-in for HFC-134a 131
R-1234yf HFC-134a 1
R-1234ze R-404A/R-22 1

Emerson will continue to closely monitor all regulatory activity and keep you informed of any implications. These updates will likely introduce lower-GWP alternatives — such as the A2Ls discussed herein — that will help the industry continue to evolve toward more energy-efficient and lower life cycle climate performance (LCCP) systems and fluids.

There’s no question that the timing of the HFC status changes will continue to present challenges throughout the commercial refrigeration supply chain. We will continue to keep an eye on these developments and provide guidance about which refrigerants are available to help you make the transition.

This blog summarizes an article in our most recent E360 Outlook, entitled New Refrigerant Alternatives Available Today.” Click here to read it in its entirety.

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