The History and Future of Refrigerants w/ Chuck Allgood
Chuck Allgood with Chemours joins the podcast to cover the history of refrigerants and discuss what the future might hold.
In the late 1800s, before Freon, the only refrigerants that were used were industrial chemicals like ammonia, CO2, and sulfur dioxide. DuPont stepped in to provide a better refrigerant for industrial refrigeration (which then spurred the rise of domestic refrigeration), so they created a non-toxic, non-flammable chemical called Freon-12 (CFC R-12) in 1928.
However, in the 1970s-1980s, it was discovered that R-12 and other CFCs depleted the ozone layer due to the chlorine content. R-12 production was banned in the 1990s per the Montreal Protocol. HCFCs like R-22 also have chlorine but in smaller concentrations; those phaseouts have been much more recent. Following news of the HCFC phaseout, HFCs and refrigerant blends became more popular because their ozone depletion potentials were 0.
Although HFCs don’t deplete the ozone layer, some of them have high global warming potential (GWP). Regulations stemming from the Kigali Amendment, such as the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, have been introduced to phase down the production of HFCs to slow global warming due to refrigerants.
HFOs have recently been developed to replace HFCs; these have olefins, which are double-carbon bonds with short atmospheric lifespans. So, they don’t contribute to global warming as significantly as HFCs and have GWPs of less than 1.
Chuck and Bryan also discuss:
- What Willis Carrier really invented
- Chlorine and ozone depletion
- Development of refrigerant blends
- Freon vs. Opteon branding
- Refrigerants and the greenhouse effect
- Oil lubricants
- Best practices for mildly flammable refrigerants
- Timeline of Opteon line refrigerant releases
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