Refrigerants of the Past & Future with Dr. Chuck & Brandon Marshall LIVE
Subscribe to our Youtube channel
On recent podcasts, we described some of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations and how they paved the way for some of the regulations we will begin to see nationwide. Such policies include using refrigerants with less than 750 GWP, which necessitates a phasedown of high-GWP refrigerants like R-410A. As a result, California contractors may consider moving to next-gen products sooner rather than later.
Many OEMs have started making systems that work with the Opteon refrigerant line, which is a series of HFOs meant to replace high-GWP HFCs.
When creating a new refrigerant, Chemours has had to consider several factors, including performance (thermodynamic properties for capacity), toxicity, flammability, environmental properties, and availability of materials.
Opteon HFO blends differ from R-32 in that they are blends (often containing R-32). As a result, Opteon blends have lower GWP than R-32 alone. A lot of future-proofing has gone into the Opteon line, so if R-32 is eventually deemed a “high-GWP” refrigerant in the future, the industry already has a replacement to fall back on. It also has discharge pressure advantages over R-32 but uses the same lubrication. Opteon refrigerants and R-32 are A2L refrigerants, so they can’t use the same vacuum pumps and recovery cylinders as A1 equipment, and they can’t be retrofitted. A2L systems may eventually have left-handed threads, which can help reduce confusion as to whether the refrigerant is flammable or not.
A2L refrigerants are nowhere near as flammable as hydrocarbons like R-290 (A3). Precautions for A2L refrigerants are not the same as A3 refrigerants; static sparks likely won’t cause the A2L refrigerant to ignite and will barely propagate flame under operating conditions. However, we need to take precautions that we didn’t take with A1 refrigerants. A2L refrigerants are also significantly less flammable than A2 refrigerants according to several tests, so that was what warranted the new designation. (It’s also worth noting that A1 refrigerants will propagate flame under extreme conditions.)
Whenever we bring a refrigerant blend to the market, we have to think about glide. R-410A had minimal glide, only about 1 degree, so it was almost negligible. However, R-454B has glide around 3-4 degrees, so you’ll have to use the dew point to set the superheat and do other best practices for blends.
Learn more about the Opteon refrigerant line at opteon.com.
Phase out, gotta love it. You just get used to a refrigerant and it gets phased out. Personally, I still think nothing worked as well as the old R-12.