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Refrigerant gas what is it and what types exist


For any air conditioner to work, you need to use refrigerant gases. The function of these gases is to raise or reduce the temperature compared to that of the environment. Refrigeration is a process that allows the extraction of heat from one point and its transmission to another with a specific temperature. In this article, we will know the types of refrigerant gases that exist, their functions and effects.

What are refrigerant gases?

As we said, refrigerant gases circulate inside an air conditioner. From the environment, you get a quantity of heat that is then transferred to another body. The temperature of this body will be lower than that of the space that has been cooled due to a series of processes. The refrigerant gas is responsible for regulating said temperature. Without it, air conditioners and refrigerators cannot function. During the mentioned processes, the refrigerant gas modifies its state from an initial condition. This set of processes is called the refrigeration cycle.

Each refrigerant gas has its own thermodynamic behavior. Thus, they have a certain temperature, pressure, and a volume. These differences affect their capabilities for thermal change. Each type of refrigerant gas will have its own relationship between pressure and temperature, enthalpy and a pressure diagram, and a specific rate of thermal change. The composition of the refrigerant gases has been modified over the years.

New studies have shown a negative impact on the environment, so they have been gradually replaced by more ecological ones. Low Atmospheric Heating Potential refrigerants, also known as green refrigerants, are the ones that are currently being used. However, as of 2022; these will also be prohibited, so the debate begins on the types of refrigerant gases to be used.

Professionals in this sector are committed to ammonia or natural refrigerant as an option for the future.

Types of refrigerant gases

In the market, we can find different types of refrigerant gases. Their classification can be done based on various aspects. Thus, refrigerant gases are divided into two categories - organic and inorganic. Within the inorganic type, we find ammonia that we mentioned in the previous section. The organic ones are hydrocarbons, and they are mixtures of chlorine, fluorine, carbon, and hydrogen. Some of these are highly harmful to the ozone layer.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the refrigerant gases are classified into two groups: safe and unsafe. Safety and the negative effects they may have on health are taken into account before air conditioners and refrigerators are filled with these gases. Below are a few types of common refrigerant gases.

Refrigerant gas R-22

It is the type of refrigerant gas that was most used in refrigeration equipment, given its low melting point. The melting point is set at -157ºC. R-22 or chlorodifluoromethane was the main refrigerant gas used in air conditioning units in the past. Its use covered both domestic and industrial.

However, it is currently prohibited since it is very harmful to the ozone layer. Its substitutes are R-407C and R-410A, which are not so harmful to the environment as they do not damage the ozone layer, are neither toxic nor flammable, but they do contribute to the greenhouse effect.

Refrigerant gas R-410A

The R-410A is among the types of refrigerant gases that are most environmentally friendly. Their commercial names are Puron, Genetron, Forane or Ecofluor. It is a mixture of HFC gases or also called hydrofluorocarbons, such as difluoromethane or R-32, which we will see next, and pentafluoroethane or R-125. It is very commonly used as a refrigerant gas for both air conditioning units and refrigerators.

It is very safe, since it does not contain chlorine (Cl) or bromine (Br), so it does not contribute to the reduction of the ozone layer. R-410A and other refrigerant gases are the ones that replace the previous harmful ones such as R-22. However, its PCA level (Atmospheric Heating Power), that is, wintering effect, remains high, being more than 1000 times above that of carbon dioxide.

Refrigerant gas R-32

R-32 (methylene fluoride) also falls into the HFC category, and they are chemical, organic, and gaseous products. Methylene fluoride is considered a flammable gas, which can explode when it comes into contact with air. Several manufacturers are using these types of refrigerant gases to replace the R-410A.

The value of PCA with respect to that of R-410A is two thirds below it, making it more ecological. In addition, its capacity for volumetric cooling is around 20% higher. By having greater power, the space in the cooling pipes is reduced. Not only losses are reduced, but it also brings down electricity consumption.

Refrigerant gas R-134A

The last of the types of refrigerant gases that we are going to see is the R-134A. It is a refrigerant gas for HFC air conditioning and is rapidly replacing the R-12 in new industrial facilities. As a refrigerant gas, it has high quality and various benefits.

It works at lower pressures than other types of refrigerant gases that exist in the market. In addition, it is very energy efficient, especially in medium to low temperatures. It is not flammable, and its toxicity is low, and it also does not damage the ozone layer.

Effects of the types of refrigerant gases on the ozone layer

The use of cold rooms and air conditioning that use HCFC’s (Hydrochlorofluorocarbons) can become dangerous. Releasing them into the atmosphere weakens the ozone layer. September 16 is considered World Ozone Day. For this, the United Nations Organization has called for awareness of damage to the environment caused by refrigerant gases and other factors. Without the ozone layer, life on the planet would not be possible, so it is everyone's responsibility to protect it.

The celebration of this day was proclaimed in 1994 and was commemorated in 1987 on which the Montreal Protocol was signed. In the protocol, substances that were harmful to the ozone layer were listed, and refrigerants were one of the most important substances.

Among them, there are several types of refrigerant gases. The Montreal Protocol took place in the Vienna Convention in 1987. This agreement, which entered into force in 1989, established measures to reduce the production and consumption of substances that are harmful to the ozone layer. It is considered that if all countries complied with these measures, by 2050, the ozone layer could have completely regenerated.

Therefore, whenever you think of getting an HVAC & R system placed in your home, as a responsible citizen, you should enquire about the refrigerant that will be used and make sure only the gases that are safe are used.

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