facts

Natural refrigerants and hydrocarbons, such as propane, are some of the cleanest and environmentally friendly options out there for air conditioning and refrigeration. However, over the past century America has had very little use of natural refrigerants. Instead, we have opted for synthetic refrigerants such as CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, and now HFOs. While these synthetic refrigerants get the job done and provide us with that cool air we all crave they are not healthy for the environment.

As we move deeper into the twenty-first century natural refrigerants have become more and more of our everyday life. The pressure is on here in America and across the world to begin phasing down these synthetic refrigerants and replace them with more environmentally friendly natural refrigerants such as R-290 propane.

In this article we’re going to take an in-depth look at propane. We’ll look at the facts, the pros and cons, points of note, the past, present, and the future of this natural refrigerants. Let’s dive in and take a look:

R-290 Facts

Name:R-290
Name - Scientific:Propane
Name (2):HC-290
Name (3):CARE-40
Name (4)R290
Classification:Hydrocarbon Refrigerant
Chemistry:C3H8 or CH3CH2CH3
Status:Active & Growing
Future:Will Be Used All Over The World
Application:Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Vending/Ice Machines
Application (2):Refrigerated Transport, Industrial Refrigeration, and Much More
Replacement For:CFCs, HCFCs, and now HFCs
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:3.3
Global Warming Risk:Very Low
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 3 - Highly Flammable
Lubricant Required:MO, AB, POE
Boiling Point:−42.25 to −42.04 °C; −44.05 to −43.67 °F; 230.90 to 231.11 K
Critical Temperature:96.7 °C or 206.06 °F
Critical Pressure:4,248 kpa
Auto ignition Temperature:470 °C (878 °F; 743 K)
Flash Point−104 °C (−155 °F; 169 K)
Molar Mass:44.097 g·mol−1
Density:2.0098 kg/m3 (at 0 °C, 101.3 kPa)
Melting Point:−187.7 °C; −305.8 °F; 85.5 K
Vapor Pressure:853.16 kPa (at 21.1 °C (70.0 °F))
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless gas
Odor:Odorless
EPA Certification Required:No
Require Certification to Purchase?No
Cylinder Color:Unknown
Cylinder Sizes:1 lb, 20 lb, 100 lb, 200 lb, 420 lb.
Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

R-290 Pressure Chart

TEMP (°F)

Pressure (psig) TEMP (°F) Pressure (psig)

-40

1.4 65 101.4
-35 3.4 70 110.2
-30 5.7 75 119.5
-25 8.1 80 129.3
-20 10.7 85 139.7
-15 13.6 90 150.5
-10 16.7 95 161.9
-5 20.1 100 173.9
0 23.7 105 186.5
5 27.6 110 199.6
10 31.8 115 213.4
15 36.3 120 227.8
20 41.1 125 242.9
25 46.3 130 258.7
30 51.8 135 275.1
35 57.7 140 292.3
40 63.9 145 310.2
45 70.6 150 328.9
50 77.6 155 348.4
55 85.1 160 368.7
60 93

 

R-290 Pros and Cons

Just like with any other refrigerant there are always going to be pros and cons. I’ve said it countless times before, but there are no perfect refrigerants out there. Regardless of what you look at you will always have a downside. As an example of this I like to use Ammonia R-717.

Ammonia is deemed as one of the absolute best refrigerants due to it’s energy efficiency. This is why you see ammonia applications in systems that require very large charges such as meat packing plants. These systems demand a lot of energy and by having the most efficient refrigerant out there these companies can save a lot of money. The downside of ammonia based systems is it’s safety rating. Ammonia is rated as slightly flammable and is rated as toxic if exposed in large enough quantities. It is this reason alone that ammonia has seen very limited use in more residential and commercial applications.

Ok, so now that we have that in mind let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons that come with R-290 propane refrigerant.

Pros

  • The largest attraction when it comes to using R-290 is it’s effect on the climate. Synthetic refrigerants such as CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs all damage the environment. Some damage through Ozone depletion and others through Global Warming. Either way, they are harmful. Propane has zero Ozone depletion potential and has a Global Warming Potential of just three. In contrast, one of the most popular HFC refrigerants today, R-404A, has a GWP of nearly four-thousand. These facts alone are why the world is pushing for more and more R-290 applications.
  • R-290 has excellent thermodynamic performance, it is energy efficient, and it is very reliable.
  • Propane is very affordable and has ample supply especially when compared to some of the more expensive refrigerants out there like R-22.

Cons

  • The biggest drawback with propane, and with many other hydrocarbons, is flammability. Yes, I know most of you could have guessed that already since we’re dealing with propane. The substance can be quite flammable when put under the right conditions. This is why it is rated as an A3 refrigerant from ASHRAE. The A standing for non-toxic and the 3 standing for ‘higher flammability.’
  • Because of this higher flammability risk with propane the amount of charges allowed by governments is quite limited. As an example, in the United States propane based systems can not have a charge greater then one-hundred and fifty grams. This was actually recently changed by the EPA. (UL standard 60335-2-24 – Source) Before that the old limit was just fifty-seven grams. This rule change applied to refrigerators and freezers as well as other approved applications we’ll get into further on into this article.
  • Again, due to it’s flammability, R-290 is not suitable for use in retrofitting existing fluorocarbon based systems such as R-22, R-410A, or R-404A. These machines were not made to handle flammable refrigerants such as R-290.

R-290 Points of Note

Ok folks so we’ve got the facts and the pros and cons down. Now let’s take a look at some of the more intricate details of R-290.

  • Propane belongs to the hydrocarbon refrigerant classification and it, along with Isobutane, are the most popular hydrocarbon refrigerants used today.
  • I mentioned this briefly already but the biggest selling point of R-290 is how environmentally friendly it is. Propane has zero Ozone depletion potential and has a Global Warming Potential of only three. That blows out even some of the newer HFO refrigerants.
  • R-290 has a variety of applications that it can be used in including commercial refrigeration, vending machines, ice machines, industrial refrigeration, residential and commercial air conditioning, industrial chillers and much more.
  • Again, I mentioned this already in our cons section, but propane is highly flammable and is rated as such through the ASHRAE safety guidelines. This means that you need to be extra careful when working with it and observe all of the proper safety procedures.
  • Due to the phasing down of HFCs across the world the demand for hydrocarbon refrigerants like propane have gone up exponentially. Along with that demand has come innovation as we are seeing newer and better ways to use R-290 in various systems.
  • Due to it’s flammable nature, systems that use propane have their charge amount strictly limited by governments and worldwide agencies.
    • In the United States the EPA has approved propane for use in certain applications but only up to one-hundred and fifty grams.
    • There are also pending global proposals to increase the standard one-hundred and fifty gram charge upwards to five-hundred grams.

R-290 EPA Approved Applications

As I was writing this article I took the time to go through the EPA’s SNAP Approved Refrigerant listing. Under each category I searched for R-290 and rather it was approved and for what charge it was approved for. (Be aware that these can change at anytime if the EPA decides to issue a new rule.) Let’s take a look:

  • Refrigerators & Freezers – The EPA approved isobutane in 2012 and propane in 2015. Then, in 2018 a change was made that allowed the maximum charge to move up from fifty-seven grams up to one-hundred and fifty grams.
  • Ice Machines – These were approved for use on December 1st, 2016 and have charges eligible up to one-hundred and fifty grams. (Rule 81 FR 22827 – Source )
  • Industrial Process Refrigeration – Approved in March of 1994 and then changed to June of 2010.
  • Vending Machines – Acceptable as of April of 2015 with a charge limit of one-hundred and fifty grams.
  • Water Coolers – Acceptable as of December 2016 with a charge limit of one-hundred and fifty grams.
  • Retail Food Refrigeration/Freezer – Stand alone equipment acceptable as of December 2011. Maximum charge of fifty-seven grams. ( I searched through out EPA’s rules but I did not see a change to one-hundred and fifty grams for this application.)
  • Very Low Temperature Refrigeration – Acceptable as of December of 2016 with a charge limit of one-hundred and fifty grams.
  • Residential Light & Commercial Air Conditioners – Approved in August of 2015 with a charge limit of one-hundred and fifty grams. Heat pumps are included in this as well.

While they do mention air conditioners as approved please pay close attention to that charge limit. One-hundred and fifty grams equates out to 0.33 pounds. Now, what air conditioner do you know of that only takes 0.33 pounds of refrigerant? MAYBE a five-thousand BTU system, but even then I feel like that might not be enough. So, while we’re approved for air conditioners I think we’re still a long ways off before we even begin seeing R-290 in window or portable systems.

Also, please note that these regulations can change at any time. It is best to check the EPA’s SNAP Substitutes in Refrigeration and Air Conditioning page by clicking here to check for the most updates.

Homeowners, Air Conditioners, & R-290

When R-22’s prices were hitting all time highs in the summer of 2017 there was a big push for R-22 alternatives from shady manufacturers. Now, I’m not saying that all R-22 alternatives are shady. There are in fact quite a few very well designed ones such as Chemours’ MO99 and Bluon’s TDX-20. But, there are also companies out there who marketed R-290 as an R-22 alternative. They called it ‘R-22a.’ In some cases it was straight propane and in others it was a blend of various refrigerants including R-290.

Not only is R-290 illegal in the US for home air conditioners it is also quite dangerous as these R-22 systems are not outfitted to handle flammable refrigerant. This can lead to safety hazards for the homeowner when ‘retrofitting,’ their system to R-290.  Along with that if something does go wrong with their air conditioning system down the road and the homeowner does not know how to repair they will  end up calling an HVAC technician. If the homeowner does not inform the technician that they switched their system over to R-290, or the homeowner did not update the stickers on the outside of the unit, then disastrous consequence can happen. In a tragic example out of Australia two technicians were killed when working on what they thought was an R-22 system. It had been switched over to R-290, a leak occurred, and the techs were smoking cigarettes in an enclosed room. (Story can be found here.) Recipe for disaster.

A few years back in 2016 a company out of my home state, Kansas, was fined one-hundred thousand dollars for marketing and selling unapproved alternative refrigerants. They had alternatives for R-12, R-22, and R-502 labeled as HC-12a, HC-22a, and HC-502a. You can read more about this story by clicking here.

While these poorly done retrofits may not be as much of a problem as they were a few years ago it is best to keep your eyes open when servicing older R-22 systems. You never know what could have been done before you either by the homeowner or a previous technician.

R-290 History

The concept of refrigeration and air conditioning using refrigerants dates back over one-hundred and fifty years ago. In the very beginning stages of invention, innovation, and testing the most common refrigerants used occurred naturally within our environment. These were what’s known as natural refrigerants and within these natural refrigerants existed a subset known as hydrocarbons.

Hydrocarbons were among the very first refrigerants ever used. These included propane, isobutane, ethane, and butane. These hydrocarbons along with the natural refrigerants ammonia and carbon dioxide were the building blocks of modern refrigeration and air conditioning technology that we use today.

While these refrigerants were able to cool to the desired temperatures that we wished there were inherent problems with each one of these natural refrigerants. These ranged from the flammability problem found in hydrocarbons to the toxicity in ammonia and to the extreme operating pressures of carbon dioxide. Whatever the natural refrigerant was there was a problem associated to it.

It was in the 1930’s that the DuPont corporation formed a partnership with General Motors. The goal of this partnership was to synthesize a new type of refrigerant that would be efficient, safe, and affordable to the masses. The end result of this partnership brought into the world some of the most famous refrigerants in the world: R-11, R-12, and R-22. These new refrigerants were known under the classifications Chloroflurocarbons (CFCs) and Hydrochloroflurocarbons (HCFCs).

These new refrigerants reigned supreme for nearly sixty years. The thought of hydrocarbons and natural refrigerants was just that, a thought. Nearly everyone had moved to the new and improved CFC and HCFC refrigerants. While there was still some usage of hydrocarbons they were scarce and more often then not replaced by artificial refrigerants.

It was in the 1980’s when it was discovered that when vented or leaked into the atmosphere the chlorine in these refrigerants would damage the Ozone layer. It had gotten so bad that a thinning of the layer was beginning to form in Antarctica. Scientists sounded the alarm to their governments and after some time a world wide treaty was signed to phase down and eventually phase out all CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was known as the Montreal Protocol.

To take the place of the phasing out CFC and HCFC refrigerants a new synthesized classification was introduced known as Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs). These refrigerants were very similar to their predecessors except that they did not contain chlorine, so they did not affect the Ozone layer. While there was a rise in natural refrigerants and hydrocarbons usage during this time it was still mostly eclipsed by the newer HFC refrigerants.

The reign of HFCs was much shorter lived then previous refrigerants. It was only about fifteen to twenty years before the world decided to start phasing down HFC refrigerants as well. This time instead of the Ozone it was due to the Global Warming Potential (GWP). The higher the GWP the more damage the product does to the environment and it was found that HFCs have extremely high GWPs. A new solution needed to be found.

While HFCs are still majorly used in today’s world there is a large market for alternative refrigerants such as hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs) and now natural refrigerants including hydrocarbons. The attraction of natural refrigerants is that they are just that, natural. They are environmentally neutral which is exactly what the world is looking for today. On top of that, technology has improved leaps and bounds from where it was over a hundred years ago. In today’s world natural refrigerants and hydrocarbons are much safer.

R-290 Present & Future

Over the past few years there has been a big push to use more and more hydrocarbon refrigerants such as propane and isobutane. One of the biggest hurdles though in using these refrigerants is the various charge limits that have been suggested and implemented by different governments and agencies.

In the early summer of 2018 the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) released a drafted proposal that outlined increasing the charge limits on hydrocarbon refrigerants, such as R-2190, from one-hundred and fifty grams upwards to five-hundred grams. The current standard known as IEC60335-2-89 is seen as the worldwide guideline for what charges to use in hydrocarbon based systems.

This proposed changes goes hand in hand with the lobbying efforts of Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC). The aim is to increase the charge limits for a variety of hydrocarbon applications to five-hundred grams. This change would allow R-290 and R-600a (Isobutane) to be deployed to larger systems such as supermarkets and eventually air conditioners. While this change has not yet been approved, most people expect it will be sometime in 2019.

IEC addresses the safety concerns of dealing with a larger R-290 charge in the following manners. The first precaution they give is that the system should be completely air tight… but shouldn’t this already be the case when dealing with a refrigerant cycle? The second precaution is that any construction in or around the system cannot cause excessive vibrations. If these vibrations occur damage to the pipes could happen which could cause the propane to leak out causing an ignition risk. The last safety precaution that they mention is that if a leak does occur that there is enough room for air to flow and for the refrigerant to dissipate. According to IEC If these precautions are followed then there should be no safety difference between a one-hundred and fifty gram system and a five-hundred gram system.

Please note that IEC does not represent the United States of Americas. Their suggestions are just that, suggestions. It is up to individual governments and regulatory agencies to determine the exact amount of hydrocarbon charge that they are comfortable with. Here in the United States the EPA has approved R-290 for use in various applications as long as the charge does not exceed one-hundred and fifty grams.

New Systems

Regardless of charge limits there are innovations being done every year on R-290 systems. Some of the most recent that I have seen are the stand alone R-290 supermarket systems. These units are just that, stand alone. They are NOT cooled by a control room or centralized unit. Instead, the charge is kept in the unit itself and the freezer/refrigerator can be moved as needed. It also eliminates risk to business owners as if there is a problem with their system it does not bring down the whole row of refrigerators but just one small section.

Something I just read about the other day was that the European Union is working on a double ducted air conditioner that would be designed to replace R-410A systems. This system would use, you guessed it, propane. The proposed system would not be split so there would be no need for refrigerant piping going between parts. This alone would reduce the risk of leakage and make installation much easier. The project is still very much in it’s infancy but it is exciting to see the types of innovations that are being done. For more information on this story please click here.

Conclusion

The number of R-290 applications are rising exponentially with each passing year. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. If you maintenance other equipment besides your standard home/commercial air conditioners then you will run into a propane system. It will only be a matter of time when we begin to see propane home air conditioners as well just as I mentioned above.

Don’t let the flammability risk scare you away though. Remember, at least in America, the charges on these systems are quite small and as long as you take the proper precautions and follow standard safety practices then you will be fine. Even if the whole world goes for the five-hundred gram charge we’re still only looking at just over a pound of propane for a charge.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

Sources

 

facts

R-125 is one of the most common refrigerants across the world yet so many people have never heard of it. While it is rare to find a direct R-125 refrigerant application, it is very common to find some of the blended refrigerants that R-125 contributes to.

The ever popular R-410A and R-404A are blended HFC refrigerants and one of the ingredients in both of these blends is R-125. Along with these there are a variety of other refrigerants comprised of R-125. So, while you may not actually see R-125 in a direct use application you will see it’s blended version of 410A, 404A, and other refrigerants in nearly every modern application.

In this article we’re going to take a deep dive on this refrigerant looking at the facts, points of note, the past, present, and what we can expect in the future for R-125.

The Facts

Name:R-125
Name - Scientific:Pentafluoroethane
Name (2):Freon™ 125
Name (3):HFC-125
Name (4)Genetron HFC 125
Name (5)Khladon 125
Name (6)Suva 125
Name (7)FC-125
Classification:HFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:C2HF5
Status:Phasing Down Across The World
Future:Will Most Likely Be Phased Out in 10-20 Years
Application:Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Vending/Ice Machines
Application (2):Refrigerated Transport, Industrial Refrigeration, and Much More
Replacement For:Mainly R-22 and R-502 Through Blends
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:3,500
Global Warming Risk:VERY HIGH
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Lubricant Required:Synthetic Oil - Polyol Ester Oil or POE
Boiling Point:-48.5°C (-55.4°F)
Critical Temperature:66.18°C (151.124°F)
Critical Pressure:3,629 kpa
Auto ignition Temperature:Unknown
Molar Mass:120.02 g/mol
Density:1.53 g/cm3 (liquid at -48.5 °C)[1]
Melting Point:−103.0 °C (−153.4 °F; 170.2 K)
Vapor Pressure:1414.05 kPa (at 25 °C)
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Faint Ethereal Odor
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Packaging:Bought in Bulk for Mixing - Cylinders are Rare
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

R-125 Pros & Cons

As we all know there are no perfect refrigerants out there. Across all of the various refrigerant classifications and types there are always going to be pros and cons. Look at ammonia (R-717) for example. It is widely accepted as one of the best refrigerants out there, but it has a safety rating of B2L. That rating means that ammonia is not only slightly flammable but is also toxic. So, while you have an amazingly efficient refrigerant you also have a extraordinary safety concern when using ammonia.

When determining a refrigerant to use there are a variety of factors that are considered. These can be efficiency, safety flammability/toxicity, climate Ozone/Global Warming Potential, and operating pressures. Whatever refrigerant  that checks the most boxes will usually end up on top.

With those factors in mind let’s look at the pros and cons of R-125:

Pros

  • The big reason R-125 took off in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s was due to it NOT having any Ozone Depletion Potential. Remember folks, that the R-125 blends replaced the Ozone damaging HCFC and CFC refrigerants such as R-22 and R-502.
  • R-125 is very versatile and it can be found in nearly twenty different blends including R-410A, R-404A, and R-407C. Even today engineers are trying new blends of R-125.
  • The other big Pro with R-125 is it’s safety rating. It is rated as an A1 from ASHRAE. The A1 rating signifies that R-125 is not toxic and is not flammable. Please note though, that while R-125 is non-toxic if enough vapor is leaked into an enclosed area it can displace oxygen which can eventually lead to asphyxiation.

Cons

  • The only con that I know for R-125 is a big one. In the last decade or so there has been a lot of focus on Greenhouse Gases and the overall Global Warming Potential (GWP) of those gases. R-125 is a Greenhouse Gas and has a GWP of thirty-five hundred. It is known as a ‘Super-Pollutant.’ R-125 has one of the higher GWPs of any modern refrigerant. For a comparison the HFC R-32 refrigerant has a GWP of only six-hundred and seventy-five.

Notes on R-125

Alright folks so we’ve got the pros and cons out of the way now let’s take a look at some points of note on R-125.

R-125 came about in the mid 1990’s and early 2000’s when the world was looking for replacements to the popular CFC and HCFC refrigerants R-502 and R-22. These previous refrigerants were found to be harming the Ozone layer and were phased out by the Montreal Protocol. R-125 was safe, it was cheap, and it was efficient. R-125, and it’s many blends, were the solution to the phasing out of CFCs and HCFCs.

As I had mentioned before, R-125 is the building block of many refrigerants that we see and use throughout the world today. We’ve mentioned some of the more popular blends like 410A and 404A but now let’s take a look at all of the other blends that are out there:

  • R-402A HCFC R-125/290/22 (60±2/2±1/38±2)
  • R-402B HCFC R-125/290/22 (38±2/2±1/60±2)
  • R-408A HCFC R-125/143a/22 (7±2/46±1/47±2)
  • R-417A HFC R-125/134a/600 (46.6±1.1/50±1/3.4+.1,–.4)
  • R-417B HFC R-125/134a/600 (79±1/18.3±1/2.7+.1,–.5)
  • R-419A HFC R-125/134a/E170 (77±1/19±1/4±1)
  • R-421A HFC R-125/134a (58±1/42±1)
  • R-421B HFC R-125/134a (85±1/15±1)
  • R-422A HFC R-125/134a/600a (85.1±1/11.5±1/3.4+.1,–.4)
  • R-422B HFC R-125/134a/600a (55±1/42±1/3+.1,–.5)
  • R-422C HFC R-125/134a/600a (82±1/15±1/3+.1,–.5)
  • R-422D HFC R-125/134a/600a (65.1+.9,–1.1/31.5±1/3.4+.1,–.4)
  • R-424A HFC R-125/134a/600a/600/601a (50.5±1/47±1/.9+.1,–.2/1+.1,+.2/.6+.1,–.2)
  • R-426A HFC R-125/134a/600/601a (5.1±1/93±1/1.3+.1,–.2/.6+.1,–.2)
  • R-428A HFC R-125/143a/290/600a (77.5±1/20±1/.6+.1,–.2/1.9+.1,–.2)
  • R-434A HFC R-125/143a/134a/600a (63.2±1/18±1/16±1/2.8+.1,–.2)
  • R-437A HFC R-125/134a/600/601 (19.5+.5,–1.8/78.5+1.5,–.7/1.4+.1,–.2/.6+.1,–.2)
  • R-507[A] HFC R-125/143a (50/50)
  • R-404A HFC R-125/143a/134a (44±2/52±1/4±2)
  • R-410A HFC R-32/125 (50+.5,–1.5/50+1.5,–.5)

As you can see from the listing above there are a variety of blends and applications that can be used within these blends. R-125 is by far one of the most versatile refrigerants out there today. This is why this refrigerant can be found in nearly every home and building that utilizes air conditioning or refrigeration.Along with being used as a refrigerant R-125 is also used in fire suppression systems. This is mainly used when water is not advised as fire extinguisher option. This could be in laboratories with expensive equipment, in museums, or banks.

There was a worldwide shortage of R-125 during the summer of 2017. The majority of R-125 is sourced from China and something happened over the spring and summer of 2017 that caused the shortage to ripple across the marketplace. The most common explanation that I found was that the chemical Flurospar experienced a forty percent price increase towards the beginning of 2017. (Flurospar is a main ingredient in the R-125 refrigerant.) This price increase caused a direct effect on the price of R-125 raising it by one-hundred and thirty percent. The price increase on Flurospar was blamed on China’s strengthening of environmental laws that directly affect the mining industry. Depending on where you were in the world when this shortage hit you could have seen your prices raise by forty or fifty percent on 125 blends. In some cases though, especially over in the European Union, prices shot up hundreds of percents.

While R-125 doesn’t deplete the Ozone it does have an extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP). The GWP’s zeroing scale is Carbon Dioxide (R-744). Carbon Dioxide has a GWP of one whereas R-125 has a GWP of thirty-five hundred. Obviously, the higher the GWP number the more damage the refrigerant does to the environment.

It is due to high GWP number that we are beginning to see various R-125 blends being phased down and in some cases completely phased out. While most countries and municipalities have focused on R-404A it is only a matter of time before everyone sets their sights on R-410A.

R-125 Past, Present, & Future

I won’t get into all of the details here, instead I will give a brief overview of what happened, where we are today, and what will be happening in the future. Firstly, let’s look at the rise of CFCs and HCFCs. These refrigerants rose to prominence in the 1950’s and 60’s. They were safe, cheap, and efficient. It was in the 1980’s that it was discovered that these refrigerants were also harming the Ozone layer. To put a stop to this the world introduced the Montreal Protocol. This signed treaty aimed at phasing out Ozone damaging refrigerants as well as other chemicals.

With the CFCs and HCFCs refrigerants going away an alternative, non Ozone depleting, refrigerant was needed. This is where the HFCs came into play. In the mid 1990’s R-12 was phased out and replaced with the HFC R-134a. A few years later is when we began to see the blended refrigerants (Made of R-125) start to replace R-22 and R-502 applications.

Ever since then HFCs and R-125 have been the standard bearer for a variety of applications including home and commercial air conditioners, supermarket refrigerators/freezers, vending machines, ice machines, refrigerated transport, and so much more.

While the Ozone was fixed the new HFC refrigerants were found to have a large effect on Global Warming due to their high Global Warming Potential (GWP). The higher the GWP the more damage the refrigerant did to the atmosphere. Pressure began to mount in Europe, Asia, and in America to slow the use of HFCs and to begin looking for alternatives.

In the European Union there are regulations in place already that are phasing down and eventually completely out HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and eventually R-410A. While here in America there isn’t an exact plan on when HFCs will be phased down. At one time there was through the Environmental Protection Agency, but their proposed rules were overturned by a Federal Court. There is hope though. A select few states have begun moving forward with their own HFC phase down regulations. Some of these states include California, New York, and Washington.

It doesn’t matter if we have a federally backed phase down program through the EPA or if we have a patchwork of policies and regulations that vary state to state. Whatever happens we can be assured that HFCs will be a thing of the past very soon.

Conclusion

While R-125 may be in nearly every household and commercial building it’s future is anything but bright. With each passing year more and more pressure is put on the use of R-125 and it’s blends. The Global Warming Potential is just too high, especially when there are alternative refrigerants coming out every year.

We may be stuck with R-125 for another decade or so but it’s time is limited and the countdown has begun. R-404A is the first target and then once that has been phased down the world will set it’s sights on R-410A.

For now, in 2019, we will stay the course of R-125 usage.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Greetings folks! Another month is nearly wrapped up and we are slowly inching towards spring. We’ve got a few more hard weeks here in Kansas but I’m looking forward to the day when I can start planting some trees.

I’m writing this article today as I was informed of more volatility in refrigerant pricing. Even though we’re only two months in, 2019 is certainty turning out to be an interesting year. In late fall early winter I always take the time to do my refrigerant pricing prediction articles. In these articles I do my best to predict what prices will be the following year by weighing a variety of factors and considerations. Some years I miss and other years I hit the mark. It looks like this year is going to be a miss.

Towards the beginning of January a notification went out to various refrigerant distributors from two refrigerant manufacturers. I cannot and will not names here, but the notification stated that there would be a six percent increase on your everyday refrigerant including R-134a, R-410A, and R-22. I had assumed that this increase would be the start of a trend of upward momentum for the year. I was wrong, very wrong.

Pricing

What surprised me is that prices are going down and down. They are at levels I haven’t seen in years. Let’s take a look:

R-134A – Thirty Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $85
  • Jan 2019 – $88
  • Feb 2019 – $70

Most people had thought we had reached the bottom of the barrel when it came to R-134a pricing. This was especially the case when that notification was sent out in January stating that prices were going up. People were used to paying around $90-$100 a cylinder.

This new price of $70 is the lowest I have seen in years. In fact it’s close to where it was when I used to buy R-134a in bulk back in 2008. Back then I was paying around $61-$65… but that was before tariffs. I am really amazed to see the price back to almost pre-tariff levels. Who knows how much lower it will go.

R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $65
  • Jan 2019 – $68
  • Feb 2019 – $56

Just like R-134a, R-410A is going down and down. At this point it’s difficult to forecast what will happen. I honestly don’t know folks. Will we keep going down, or will we start creep back up as the summer season sets in?

R-22 – Thirty Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $550
  • Fall 2018 – $350
  • Jan 2019 – $410
  • Feb 2019 – $300 or Under

Obviously, the big story here is R-22. There are only ten months left until R-22 is completely phased out across the United States (January 1st, 2020). Everyone had assumed that the price would go up and up as we approached closer to that deadline. What actually happened is that we saw a spike in pricing hit in the summer of 2017. At certain points it was $600-$700 a cylinder. However, in 2018 the price started to go down and down.

There could be a resurgence in pricing as the summer season sets in and people began to realize that R-22 will be going away. But, we may also have just too much overstock in the market place which is causing prices to stay low.

Conclusion

The refrigerant market is anything but stable this year folks. It is tough to tell when the right time to buy is. You don’t want to get stuck with overpriced product but you also want the opportunity to buy low and sell high. Time will only tell. It’s as much as a guessing game for you as it is for me.

If you are interested in purchasing refrigerant please check out our bulk refrigerants page by clicking here.  We are partnered with one of the leading distributors in the country and will get you a competitive price in today’s marketplace.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

facts

Today the HFC R-404A is one of the most commonly used refrigerants in the United States and in the world. You can find it most commercial refrigerators/freezers, in vending and ice machines, in refrigerated transport, and in specific industrial applications.

404A was originally implemented as a replacement option for the now banned CFC R-502. R-502 was widely used throughout all of the applications we mentioned above until 1995/1996 when it was phased out entirely due to it’s Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP). While 404A has been around for decades it’s future may be short lived due to it’s high Global Warming Potential (GWP).

In this post we are going to take an in-depth look at R-404A. In our first section we’ll cover all of the facts, then the pros/cons, points of note, and the history of R-404A.

The Facts

Name:R-404A
Name - Scientific:Blend of R-125, R-143a, & R-134a
Name (2):404A
Name (3):HFC-404A
Classification:HFC Refrigerant - Blend
Chemistry:Pesudo-Azeotropic Blend
Chemistry (2):R-125 Pentafluroethane (44%)
Chemistry (3):R-143a 1,1,1-Trifluoroethane (52%)
Chemistry (4):R-134a 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane (4%)
R-125 Chemistry:44±2% C2HF5
R-1143a Chemistry:52±1% C2H3F3
R-134a Chemistry:4±2% C2H2F4
Status:Phasing Down Across The World
Future:Will Be Phased Out in 10 Years
Application:Low to Medium Temperature Systems
Application (2):Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Vending/Ice Machines
Application (3):Refrigerated Transport & Industrial Refrigeration
Replacement For:CFC R-502, R-12, & R-22
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:3,922
Global Warming Risk:VERY HIGH
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Lubricant Required:Synthetic Oil - Polyol Ester Oil or POE
Boiling Point:-46.6° Celsius or -51.88° Fahrenheit
Temperature Glide:0.8
Critical Temperature:72.14° Celsius or 161.852° Fahrenheit
Critical Pressure:3.735 MPA or 541.716 PSI
Auto ignition Temperature:Not Determiend
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Faint Ethereal Odor
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Orange
Cylinder Design:
R-404A 24 pound jug cylinder
R-404A 24 pound jug cylinder
Cylinder Design (2):Twenty-four pound cylinder
Price Point:Medium - $70-$160 a cylinder.
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?Click Here to Purchase Cylinders
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

R-404A Pressure Chart

Instead of reinventing the wheel and creating my own pressure chart I thought I’d send you to these fine websites where charts already exist:

R-404A Pros & Cons

Regardless of what refrigerant you are looking at they all have their own pros and cons. There is no perfect refrigerant. There may never be. Ammonia for example is deemed one of the best refrigerants in the world… but it’s extremely toxic and can be deadly in high amounts.

R-404A has it’s own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Pros:

  • R-404A provided an immediate replacement product for both R-12, R-22 and R-502. This allowed the world to stop using Ozone depleting refrigerants. R-404A operated at comparable physical and thermodynamic properties that R-502 did which made transitioning to new systems or retrofitting older systems a much easier task.
  • 404A is rated as an A1 from ASHRAE. That means that it is non-toxic and non-flammable. While this may not seem like a big deal for HFC refrigerants, this rating is becoming more and more important when it comes to looking for a more environmentally friendly replacement refrigerant.

Cons:

  • The biggest con with R-404A is it’s extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP). It’s GWP rating is three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty. This number makes it one of the absolute highest GWP refrigerant that is widely used in the world today.
  • In some applications 404A is not the most efficient. There are other refrigerants that can save five to ten percent efficiency. (R-134a for example.) The lost efficiency with 404A can translate into more energy and more money spent when compared to other refrigerants. Refer to our ‘R-404A Potential Replacements’ section for some of these more efficient refrigerants.

Notes on R-404A

Just like with our other facts sheets I’d like to take some time in this section and go over some facts and other points of note on R-404A refrigerants:

  • R-404A began seeing usage in 1996 after the phase out of CFC R-502 due to it’s Ozone Depletion Potential.
  • R-404A is a ternary refrigerant blend consisting of the HFC R-125 (forty-four percent), HFC R-143a (fifty-two percent), and HFC R-134a (four percent).
  • R-404A is used across a variety of low and medium temperature applications including super market freezers/refrigerators, vending machines, ice machines, refrigerated transport, and industrial refrigerant systems.
  • Starting in 1996, 404A was the primary refrigerant for the above mentioned applications for over twenty years.
  • R-404A is non toxic and non flammable and has an A1 rating from ASHRAE. Note that if 404A is pressurized after being mixed with air the chance of flammability increases. You should never mix 404A with air under.
  • R-404A is heavier then air and will displace oxygen in a room if a large enough quantity is leaked. This can be said for various types of refrigerants though and is not unique to 404A.
  • When charging systems with R-404A the refrigerant must be in a liquid state. If done in a gaseous state you risk damaging the entire system.
  • In some cases R-404A can replace R-22 systems when the proper retrofitting is done, but this may not make sense in the long run due to my next point.
  • R-404A is being phased down and in some cases completely phased out due to it’s high Global Warming Potential and it’s detrimental effect on the climate.
  • In many cases R-404A is the first HFC refrigerant targeted for phasing down HFCs due to it’s extremely high GWP of nearly four-thousand.
  • Some refrigerant manufacturers and distributors have already announced they will no longer be making or selling R-404A.
  • Europe will input a ban on any new stationary 404A systems in the year 2020. (Along with any other refrigerants that have a GWP higher then twenty-five hundred.) 
  • Along with the ban on new systems the European Union has also issued import and production limits on R-404A.
  • Due to these production/import limits Europe has seen crazy prices come on R-404A. At some points in the past few years it rose over seven-hundred percent in one season.
  • Prices in the United States have remained relatively stable the past year or so, but in 2017 there was a large increase due to a shortage of flurospar in China.

R-404A Possible Replacements

In the initial switch from CFC/HCFCs over to HFCs in the 1990’s there was a rush to find a quick and fast alternative refrigerant. Before HFCs a lot of supermarkets were using both R-12 and R-502 for their systems. (R-12 was used for the refrigerators and R-502 was used for freezers.)

At the time the world switched over to R-404A there was little other choice and most business owners and contractors consolidated their refrigerators and freezers over to one refrigerant to simplify things. That is why you see 404A nearly everywhere in these types of applications.

When we do completely phase out R-404A it will not be like it was in the 1990’s again. No folks, this time we are going to go about it smarter. (This is me being optimistic.) Instead of superseding every machines and application to a new specified refrigerant we will be looking at each application specifically an determining the best refrigerant for it’s needs. This is why we’ll see R-290 propane used in some 404A applications and an HFO refrigerant used in a different 404A application. When it’s all said and done we should see a diversified refrigerant market in place of the standard 404A that we see today.

At this time it’s impossible to list every 404A alternative or option out there. Things are always changing and evolving. The ‘perfect’ replacement may be discovered one month from now.

All that being said, let’s take a look at some of the possible R-404A replacements listed below. Just keep in mind that none of these are a ‘fix all’ solution. These refrigerants range from natural refrigerants, to HFOs, and the occasional HFC.

  • R-448A
  • R-449B
  • R-449A
  • R-448A
  • R-452A
  • R-455A
  • R-407A
  • R-407F
  • R-442A
  • R-290
  • R-744

R-404A History

The Past

To understand the history of R-404 we first have to travel back to the 1960’s. It was then that the CFC refrigerant R-502 was invented. R-502 was a blended refrigerant using HCFCs and CFCs. It was comprised of of R-22 (48.8%) and R-115 (51.2%). This new refrigerant R-502 offered a lower discharge temperature and improved capacity when compared to R-22.

Once invented R-502’s usage exploded across low and medium temperature applications. Over the next thirty years R-502 was the dominant refrigerant for a variety of applications including super market refrigerators/freezers, industrial refrigeration, vending machines, and in refrigerated transport.

For thirty-five years R-502 reigned supreme, but like all good things it had to come to an end. In 1995 and 1996 R-502 was phased out for all new machines. 502 was just another one of the many CFC and HCFC refrigerants that have been phased out over the past twenty to thirty years.

These refrigerants were phased out due to the chlorine that they contained. When the refrigerant was vented or leaked it would move into the atmosphere where the chlorine would damage the Ozone Layer. While there wasn’t an official ‘hole’ in the Ozone there was a thinning of the layer above Antarctica. The Ozone layer protects us from radiation and a thinning of said layer can result in a whole host of problems including various cancers.

Scientists noticed this thinning in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Once the seriousness of the problem was revealed world leaders got together in Montreal and signed a treaty that most all of us know by now, The Montreal Protocol. This treaty aimed at phasing down and eventually completely out Ozone damaging chemicals. This included insulation, pesticides, refrigerants, and many other applications.

When R-502’s turn for phase down came in 1995 a new alternative refrigerant needed to be chosen. At this time the world turned towards HFC refrigerants. One of the very first phase outs was R-12 for automotive applications. It’s replacement was the HFC R-134a. It was a logical move to use R-404A as R-502’s replacement as 404A was an HFC and it partly blended from R-134a.

Once R-404A was implemented in the 1990’s it was the standard bearer for the next thirty years. But now, just like R-502, it’s time has come.

Present Day

Today, as I write this article in 2019, R-404A is being phased down and in some cases completely out across the world. The European Union has import and production limits set on R-404A and have plans to completely phase it out over the next few years.

This time though folks the phase out has nothing to do with the Ozone Layer. This time it has to deal what’s known as Global Warming Potential (GWP). GWP is a measurement of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps within the atmosphere. The higher the number the worse the product is for the environment. Like with every scale there has to be a zeroing measurement. In this case it is Carbon Dioxide (R-744). The GWP on R-744 is one. The GWP on R-404A is nearly four-thousand.

That number alone is why the world is pushing to get rid of R-404A as fast we can. Out of all of the HFCs R-404A is one of the absolute highest when it comes to GWP. While the European Union has already begun taking steps of a complete phase out the United States is quite a bit behind.

Originally, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule in 2015. This new rule was under the EPA’s SNAP and was titled, ‘Rule 20.’ This new rule aimed at phasing down HFCs across the country. They did this by deeming certain refrigerants would no longer be acceptable in specific applications. As an example, one of the stipulations was that R-134a would no longer be acceptable in 2021 model year vehicles. R-404A, along with R-134a, was one of the prime targets in these new regulations.

Over the next few years the industry moved on expecting these changes laid out in Rule 20 to take effect. It was in the summer of 2017 that a surprise ruling by a federal judge overturned all of the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20. The judge ruled in favor of Mexichem and Arkema (Two refrigerant manufacturers). While other companies, such as Chemours and Honeywell, appealed the ruling they eventually got nowhere and the judge’s ruling stood. It went as far as going to the Supreme Court but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Now, as of 2019, there is no set phase down schedule of R-404A or other HFC refrigerants. The only bright spot is what’s known as the ‘United States Climate Alliance.’ This alliance formed after Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord. Their goal is to have a gathering of states that will enforce their own climate policy.

Future

Regardless of the politics across the United States and the world we can all be assured of one thing: R-404A is going away. When exactly it goes away is a different story though. Within the United States I predict us having a patchwork of different laws and regulations across the various states. While this is disorganized and confusing it does have some positive effects as well.

With the lack of a central federal policy on HFCs we have states taking matters into their own hands. If enough states get on board with these HFC phase down changes then air conditioning and refrigerator manufacturers will eventually throw in the towel on HFCs and began transitioning over to lesser GWP refrigerants. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to make a system that could only be sold in half of the country. Instead these companies will start manufacturing based on the states that have HFC phase down policies. This will allow them to still sell into all fifty states and prevent them from doing double work.

As we mentioned in our potential replacements section, there is not yet a perfect R-404A replacement option. Instead, we are having a variety of refrigerants show up as replacements for specific R-404A applications. As an example, instead of 404A in vending machines we will start using propane or isobutane. But, these refrigerants will not work for refrigerated transport or in larger charged systems.

Among these alternatives to 404A a war is brewing between natural refrigerants and HFO refrigerants. While HFOs have significantly lower GWP then HFC refrigerants they are still not perfect and still do have a GWP that is higher then the neutral carbon dioxide point. It is this reason why groups are pushing to skip HFOs and go with natural refrigerants entirely. At this time there is no saying what refrigerant will win the ‘war,’ but the predicted outcome I see is a good mix between the two. We’ll see all of the smaller to medium charged systems start using natural refrigerants and the larger systems still using fluorinated refrigerants such as HFCs and HFOs.

There may come a time in the not too distant future that a ‘perfect’ 404A alternative is discovered. But, for now, we are all stuck with our patchwork of alternative refrigerants. If you haven’t run into some of these already it’ll only be a matter of time.

Conclusion

Well folks, that about covers it for R-404A. I tried to cover absolutely everything that I could when it came to this refrigerant. If you find that I missed something or that if something is inaccurate please reach out to me and let me know.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Even today there are so many homeowners and companies hanging onto their old R-22 systems. Sometimes it takes a heated negotiation just to convince a homeowner to switch from R-22 over to R-410A. Now imagine trying to convince a billion dollar company to switch all of their systems away from R-22. You think it would be an easier discussion. You would think that the company would want to get the obsolete units out of rotation and start using a more climate friendly solution.

Well folks, this wasn’t the case with Trident Seafoods out of Seattle, Washington. Trident is one of the largest seafood processing companies in the northwest and Alaska. Between the years 2009 through 2016 Trident violated the Environmental Protection Agency’s leak restrictions on Ozone depleting refrigerants. Leaks in their R-22 systems went untreated for years. They also failed to document services and repairs on two-hundred and eighty-nine separate occasions. On top of that they used uncertified technicians and inadequate recovery tooling.

Because of their lack of maintenance Trident was directly responsible for leaking over two-hundred thousand pounds of R-22 into the atmosphere. These leaks occurred on their various fishing and transport ships.

It was announced today that the Environmental Protection Agency and Trident Seafoods had come to a preliminary agreement. Trident would pay a nine-hundred thousand dollar fine for violating the Clean Air Act. They would also pay for twenty-three million dollars worth of retrofits to prevent these incidents from occurring again. Quite a lot of expense and fines all because this company didn’t follow proper regulations or that they didn’t want to invest in new refrigerant systems.

As a result of this ruling Trident will be retiring or retrofitting twenty-three r-22 systems across fourteen ships. These retrofits will remove one-hundred thousand pounds of r-22. The removal of all of this R-22 is the equivalent of one-hundred and forty-three thousand passenger cars being removed from the roads.

Along with the retrofitting Trident Seafoods will conduct routine leak inspections and fix any leaks in a timely manner in accordance to EPA standards. They will also have a third party auditor to review their leak inspection procedures. This way we don’t have a repeat.

EPA regulations state that owners or operators of industrial refrigerant equipment that contains over fifty pounds of ozone depleting refrigerants have their leaks repaired within thirty days. Along with that, these leak repairs have to be documented in full. Lastly, only 608 certified technicians are able to open and work on these systems.

Conclusion

While this settlement is still subject to public comment and court approval it is easy to see the type of punishment companies can receive if they fail to comply with the Clean Air Act and the EPA standards.I’m actually surprised the fine and repercussions wasn’t higher. The amount of refrigerant that was leaked is staggering. Rather Trident thinks it or not, they got off easy.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

It was announced today via press release from the Chemours company that their new plant located in Ingleside, Texas (Outside of Corpus Christi) is now manufacturing R-1234yf refrigerant. This factory is by far one of the largest and now that it is live the capacity of HFO-1234yf being produced in the world has tripled.

Today the overall demand for 1234yf is still quite low in the United States. In the European Union volume is beginning to pick up due to their mandatory phase out of R-134a. While there are automotive manufacturers here in the US that are switching their vehicles over to yf it is not yet mandatory. Because of this, we are seeing a slow transition cycle.

Along with the slow change over we also have to keep in mind that if a new vehicle with 1234yf rolls off the floor today that same vehicle may not need an air conditioning repair for another four years. The standard amount of time for a new vehicle to need air conditioning repair is between five to six years. So, even though we had a lot of manufacturers and models switch to yf in 2015 we are still a ways out before the demand of yf is heightened due to automotive repairs.

The good news here though is that with this new plant live and producing yf here in the United States we should begin to see the price dip. Yf still continues to be one of the most expensive modern day refrigerants on the market place. Today it ranges between sixty to seventy dollars a pound. (R-134a is about three dollars a pound.) With the increased supply coming into the market we may begin to see this price drop. Well, at least until the demand starts to climb, then we could see prices level back out.

While we mostly know R-1234yf as the new automotive refrigerant it is also important to note that it is used in other various HFO refrigerant blends such as R-455A and R-513A. As more HFOs are developed in the future we may begin to see the versatility of yf expand. If this happens then we could see another effect on the overall demand of the refrigerant. Regardless of the other application market, we can all be certain that the automotive demand is more then enough to satisfy the needs of this production plant.

In my opinion the launching of production of yf at this plant was a bit too early. Now, I didn’t find anything that specifically said that Chemours was going to be producing at maximum capacity or if they were going to slowly start production to meet market needs. I am assuming that they are going to start slow and adjust as the market requires. Either way though, I just don’t see the demand yet. Perhaps Chemours is preparing for the future but if you ask me I would say we are still a few years out before we really see the demand for 1234yf pick up.

Conclusion

In the short term, a savvy investor may have an opportunity if the prices of 1234yf begin to drop due to oversupply. One could wait for the price to bottom out, buy up a few pallets, and then sit on it and wait for the prices to climb. Remember though folks, it’s always a gamble. If the prices do fall whose to say that they’ll go back up? We could be looking at a new normal price point wise on yf with this new plant.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Greetings folks! I hope everyone had a great January and was able to stay warm during the Polar Vortex. Kansas City didn’t get it as bad as some other areas as we only got down to negative five. (Only!) I apologize for not updating the past few weeks but we all need a little R and R every now and then.

As most of you know I came from the automotive industry, specifically trucking. While in this industry I was responsible for purchasing R-134a for our dealerships. After doing this for a few years I found that the absolute best time to buy is right now. Yes, January and February are the best time to purchase refrigerants rather it be R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, or anything else.

The Why

There are a few reasons you should consider buying right now. As the year progresses and we get into the spring and summer months the price on refrigerants steadily begins to creep up. This is due to demand and the hotter weather. As we all know, more demand equals higher pricing. This is why it makes sense to buy most of your company’s yearly demand in the down season while the prices are still quite low.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend purchasing in November or December either. Depending on the year you could see the high summer prices extend even to the fall months. With some years I’ve seen exceptional pricing last all the way to mid November. The demand and the pricing that followed finally begins to die down in December and is pretty much non-existent in January. This causes the price to drop to it’s lowest point.

Even though January has the absolute best prices a lot of companies will wait until the magical month of February. This may be due to the pricing being right around the same and that we’re another month closer to spring and summer. That’s one less month of sitting on expensive inventory.

Late last month we had a trucking company go through our bulk purchasing program. After some negotiations they ended up buying a full trailer load of R-134a from us. For those that don’t know, a trailer load consists of twenty pallets of forty cylinders each. (Eight-hundred cylinders.) Just about a week later we had another trucking company purchase just under five trailer loads. That’s nearly four-thousand cylinders.

All of these large purchases are designed to give companies the best price in the market, to insulate them from seasonal price increases, and to also fill their demand for the entire season.

The Risk

It’s not all a bed of roses though folks. There is a risk to purchasing like this. Refrigerant is a commodity and it’s pricing can change with just the snap of a finger. In previous articles I equated it to the price of oil. We always see in the news that oil prices are going up and down every week or even every day. While refrigerant isn’t as volatile as oil is, it is important to know that the prices can go down or up at any moment.

While it is fairly standard for prices to go up during prime season it is not always the case. There are a variety of reasons that prices could actually go down in the hot months of summer. It could be oversupply across the country. Or, it could be a very mild summer and the need for air conditioning just isn’t there. Whatever the reason is, you should know that there is the possibility of prices going down as well as going up in prime season.

Let’s look at a worst case scenario. Say your company bought a trailer load of refrigerant this week and you got what you believe was an aggressive price. As the months go by and summer arrives you begin to notice that you are getting priced out of the market. Your competitors are quoting fifteen to twenty percent lower then you. You are now stuck with overpriced product. Do you sell at a loss? Do you buy some at the lower price and hold onto your current inventory? Do you write off the cost difference as a loss and move on?

Conclusion

While the above scenario isn’t a pretty picture I can assure you that the other end of the spectrum is. Imagine for a moment that you purchased a trailer load product at ninety dollars a cylinder. Then, as summer arrives, the price goes up and up until it hits over one-hundred and fifty dollars a cylinder.  Now you are in a great position to make a killing and still undercut some of your competition.

Whatever you decide to do with your company’s refrigerant needs this year just remember that there is no right or wrong answer. No one knows for certain what will happen within the market this year. There are always going to be winners and losers. Here’s hoping you’re on the winning side!

If you are interested in purchasing please contact us and we’ll do our best to get your an aggressive price.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Kigali Amendment

Just over two years ago there was a final meeting on what is known today as the ‘Kigali Amendment.’ This amendment added to the existing Montreal Protocol. As you all know, the Montreal Protocol originated in the 1980’s and aimed at phasing down CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This phase out aimed at stopping any further damage to the Earth’s Ozone layer. While the treaty did what it set out to, it also directly led to the rise of HFC refrigerants such as R-410A, R-134a, and R-404A. Now, no matter where you go you’re going to find HFC refrigerants. The good news is that the Ozone damaging Chlorine refrigerants are a thing of the past. The bad news is that HFCs aren’t perfect though and now this latest amendment has HFCs in it’s cross hairs.

It took seven years of meetings and careful planning but an agreement was made in October of 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. The amendment aimed at reducing HFC emissions by over eighty percent over the next thirty years. While it was signed by over one-hundred and sixty-seven countries, in order for the treaty to come into effect it had to be ratified by twenty separate countries governments before January 1st, 2019. This number was easily met and as I write this article today there are sixty-five countries that have ratified the HFC reducing amendment. There are many more expected to ratify over the next coming weeks and months.

That being said, there is some concern about this amendment. While sixty-five countries have ratified another one-hundred and thirty-two have not. Adding more worry about the amendment is that the United States and China fall into the listing of countries that have not ratified the amendment. I cannot imagine the overall effectiveness of a treaty like this if you do not have China and the US on your side. I do not know enough about the Chinese side of things, so in this article I’ll stick with the United States.

Since Trump took office there has not been a clear message on what will be done with the Kigali Amendment. In order for it to be ratified in America it has to go through The Senate, but in order for it to get to The Senate  President Trump, or The Executive Branch, has to provide the amendment to The Senate. So far, over the past two years the Trump Administration has sat on the amendment and done nothing with it. There were a few times where it looked like progress would be made. An employee of the Trump Administration would say something positive about Kigali but then a few weeks later they would backpedal and we would be back at square one. I had predicted that by 2019 hit we would see nothing different from them either. There isn’t a flat-out refusal. The amendment is just in purgatory here in America and I predict it will stay that way.

If the pressure increases on the Trump Administration to adopt this amendment (Say if China ratifies the amendment before we do) then I can very well see Trump nixing the whole thing. That just seems to be his modus operandi. If you push too hard then he’ll go the other way. I think for now it is best for everyone to stay quiet and let the pressure build naturally. If there is too much pressure or if it seems genuine then we may get the exact opposite reaction that we are hoping for. I know it sounds a little far fetched but I believe that is how it is with this current administration.

The Good News

It’s not all bad news around here folks. No, there is a shining light when it comes to phasing down HFC refrigerants across the United States. Around the same time that the Trump Administration announced that they were pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord a group of Governors from various states formed an alliance. This alliance, known as the Climate Alliance, aimed at upholding the goals laid out in the now defunct Paris Climate Accord. Along with these goals they have also targeted similar climate and environmental changes and regulations.

Some of these specific targets have been HFC refrigerants. In fact, last year California passed a bill that closely imitated the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20. This EPA rule was meant to be the first step in phasing down HFC refrigerants across the country. While the EPA’s rule was overturned by a Federal Court it is still being used as a template for various states such as California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington State.

In fact the first part of California’s new law known as ‘The Cooling Act,’ went into effect January 1st, 2019. This first step is targeting supermarket systems, condensing units, and self-contained units. The rule states that R-404A, R-507A, and other high Global Warming Potential refrigerants would no longer be acceptable in new machines. Along with the stick there is also a carrot that gives incentives for those businesses that adopt lower GWP systems earlier then the required deadline.

Conclusion

I mentioned this above in the previous section but I just do not see the Trump Administration pushing this amendment to The Senate for ratification. It goes against everything else that the Administration has done. In fact, we are all waiting patiently on new HFC rules to be released from the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of these ‘new’ rules could end up rescinding HFC rules that were put in place during the Obama Administration. If these are rescinded then we could see recycled refrigerant being used in different machines, HFC leak repairs plummet, and unregulated HFC purchasing. (End users could purchase HFC refrigerants without licensing.)

The Kigali Amendment may be seen as a disappointment for those of us in the United States but we have hope with the Climate Alliance. While only a few states have come out with a HFC phase down plan it is just a matter of time before more states come forward. In fact, the newly elected governors of Michigan and Wisconsin have already signaled that they would be joining the alliance. We may end up with a piecemeal of states that phase down HFCs but if enough states jump on board then manufacturers will be forced to use lower GWP alternative refrigerants.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

Price Alert

The New Year has only just begun and already we are seeing refrigerant price changes coming to the market. Earlier today one of my contacts within the refrigerant industry reached out to me to share price increases that are coming down the pipeline. While so far these changes are from one or two manufacturers, I have seen from experience that other manufacturers typically follow suit. These price increases or decreases have reasoning behind them such as raw materials costing more, a shortage on materials or refrigerant, unexpected increased demand, logistics/freight issues, or a whole host of other possible issues. The point though is that if one manufacturer is experiencing a price increase then the others will usually be close behind them.

Now when I do articles like these that go into upcoming pricing changes I make sure to leave things anonymous to not only the source of the information but also to the company that has announced the pricing increases. It is not my place to share and publish internal company documents. By doing it this way I can protect myself and my business as well as still provide you, the reader, the much needed information on upcoming price changes.

The Changes

Ok folks, without further ado let’s dive in and take a look at the changes that were announced. Yesterday, a mailer was sent out by a leading refrigerant manufacturer. This mailer stated that as of next week, January 8th, prices would be going up six percent on HFC and HCFC refrigerants. The increase targets all of the most commonly used refrigerants today including R-22, R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, R-507A, R-407A, and R-407C.

While six percent doesn’t sound like a lot it really depends on the refrigerant that you are looking at. R-134a right now is trending between eighty to ninety dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. Six percent of that would be around five dollars more a cylinder. Not too much of an increase. However, if we take that same logic and look at R-22’s price which is hovering around four-hundred to four-hundred and fifty a thirty pound cylinder we can begin to see a larger impact. Lets take the four-hundred dollar price as an example. With that base price we’re looking at around twenty-four dollars more per thirty pound cylinder. Now we can begin to see a slight impact.

One more thing folks on these increases. The announced price increase on HFCs have only been from one manufacturer. The R-22 price increase though has now come from two different and distinct refrigerant manufacturers. Just like I stated above, most manufacturers are in tandem with each other and have their ears to the ground watching the trends. The chances are R-22 is going to go up around six percent across all manufacturers.

2019 is a big year for R-22 as this is the LAST year that any quantity can be physically produced or imported into the United States. When January 1st, 2020 hits that’s the end. Fin. No more. The only way to acquire R-22 then is either purchasing from distributors who have stockpiles on hand or purchasing form a certified refrigerant reclaimer.

Because of this upcoming rule change on R-22 the market in 2019 is unpredictable. No one knows for sure what’s going to happen. Could this six percent increase be the start of a snowball effect? Will the price keep going up and up this year as more and more people buy up everything they can? There was a time in 2017 where R-22 cylinders hit seven-hundred dollars a cylinder. Will we repeat this year? Or, is this six percent increase an anomaly or correction and the price will stabilize for the upcoming spring season?

Conclusion

Refrigerant pricing is unpredictable. Sure, I have written many articles trying to predict what will happen in the next year… and sometimes I’m right and other times I am way off. One thing I am certain of though is that these winter months are the absolute best time to buy. Prices are deflated and the demand is quite low. As spring edges closer the prices will begin to rise.

I remember back in the day when I was in charge of purchasing R-134a by the trailerload. We would always wait until the first week of February to place our orders. We’d do our negotiations in the middle/end of January and then send our purchase orders over that first week in February. Most of the time this ensured that we had a competitive price throughout the entire season and we didn’t have to scramble in the hot months to try and find a source of R-134a.

If you are interested in purchasing refrigerant please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by filling out the contact information below or by visiting our bulk refrigerants page. Please remember that we only sell in pallet and trailerload quantities. A pallet typically contains around forty cylinders.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134yf

A few days back I was speaking to an acquaintance of mine. It was a relaxed setting with a few beers and good food. Sometime during the conversation the topic of refrigerant came up, mainly 1234yf. You see, he manages a service center at a Ford dealership. He has been doing this job for over a decade and this fall was the first time that he came across a vehicle needing an air conditioning repair that used R-1234yf. They didn’t have any on hand and worse yet, they didn’t have a recovery machine fit for 1234yf either. They ended up having to purchase the refrigerant from a local autoparts store and paid way more then they should have for a recovery unit.

Up until this point everyone at the dealership had been trained and accustomed to using R-134a. After all, pretty much every vehicle on the road within the past twenty to thirty years was using the HFC R-134a. The concept of vehicles using an alternative refrigerant, like R-1234yf, was foreign to a lot of service managers and technicians. Service employees could have twenty years of experience and not know the first thing about this new 1234yf refrigerant.

Over in the European Union it was a different story as R-134a had been completely phased out for years now. While they may have run into the same problems we are having today, the length of these were short lived due to the mandatory switching from 134a over to yf. If EVERY new vehicle on the road was taking 1234yf then you are going to run into it quite often and you will begin to know exactly how to handle it. Things are different here in the United States.

As I write this article today there is no set phase down of R-134a in vehicles in the United States. Originally, the goal was to have R-134a labeled as unacceptable in all new vehicles in 2020. (2021 model year.) This deadline was set by the Environmental Protection Agency back in 2015 through their Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP). Years went by as this being the status quo and so vehicle manufacturers here in the US began to slowly switch their vehicles away from R-134a and over to R-1234yf. This trend started in 2015 and with each year that has passed more and more vehicle manufacturers have begun switching more and more models over to yf. Chances are if you check your company’s new vehicles you will see some of them are taking R-1234yf.

There was a wrench thrown into all of this in the summer of 2017. In August of 2017 a federal court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency’s new SNAP rules had overreached the EPA’s authority. I won’t get into all of the court details here, but basically the EPA used the same set of laws in the Clean Air Act that were intended for Ozone depletion refrigerants and applied them to Global Warming refrigerants. Ozone depletion does not equal Global Warming. They are two different matters and that is how the court saw it as well. The EPA’s proposed 2020 phase down of R-134a was thrown out the window. There were numerous appeals by varying companies and there was even one to the Supreme Court but the court rejected the case and the previous ruling standed. Today we are in limbo between R-134a and R-1234yf.

Preparing for 1234yf

Regardless of what happened in the courts the fact of the matter is that 1234yf is coming. The only thing the court ruling did was muddy the waters and slow down the rate of change. Now instead of having a mandated change and forcing everyone to ‘rip the band aid off’ we now this slow dribble of vehicles coming into shops with 1234yf refrigerant.

What we find is that service managers and technicians are not prepared. When a vehicle does come in needing a repair there is a scramble to first find a source for the needed yf refrigerant and then to find an adequate recovery and identifier machine compatible with yf. The good news here is that 1234yf and 134a aren’t that different mechanically speaking. A few of the major differences that you will see when dealing with 1234yf are listed below:

  • At the very minimum you will need to purchase a new refrigerant recovery machine if you plan to be working on 1234yf units in the future. The machine will have to meet SAE spec J2843. We recommend purchasing Robinair AC1234-6 recovery machine.
  • There are slight design differences in the design specs of certain components like TXVs, ports, evaporators, and condensers.
  • Service ports are different then 134a. This is done to alert the technician that this is a 1234yf unit and also prevents the technician from accidentally connecting the wrong hose and mixing refrigerants. So even if you aren’t paying attention and try to hook up your 134a hose you’ll quickly realize you’re working on a YF unit. This is very similar to what was done with diesels back in 2007 during the Diesel Exhaust Fluid change. (DEF)
  • With 1234yf systems they have added a Suction Line Heat Exchanger, also known as an internal heat exchanger. This is an additional component located before the expansion valve. It is a state change helper that is used to improve overall efficiency of the unit.
  • The operating pressures and temperatures of 1234yf are VERY similar to that of 134a. This was done intentionally to make for an easy transition.
  • 1234yf uses PAG oil just like R-134a but please note that it does use a different type of PAG oil. It is always safest to read the sticker labels under your hood or to consult the instruction manual before adding in any oil.
  • Evaporator designs must meet JAE standard J2842. Yf is tougher on evaporators then 134a and this new standard is to prevent wear and tear and premature failure.
  • 1234yf is classified by the ASHRAE as a 2L flammable gas. That means that 1234yf is rated as mildly flammable.

Conclusion

The good news here is that we still have some time to prepare before the onslaught of 1234yf repairs begins to hit your dealership. The average length of time before a significant air conditioning repair is needed is between five to six years. Yf really began to pick up steam amongst vehicle manufacturers in 2015 and has increased each year that goes by. So, what that means is that we have five to six years from 2015 before the real quantity of repairs begin to come in. While it’s already 2019 we still have around another year or two before we start seeing yf every day in the shop. The worst thing you can do though is bury your head in the sand and hope that the problem goes away. The change is coming.

Will your dealership be ready? Have you already purchased your yf recovery machine? Do you have a source for purchasing yf refrigerant? If not, then I highly recommend contacting us by filling out the form below to receive a quote. We will get back to you with an aggressive price point. Also, please note that in order to purchase yf you or your technicians will need to be 609 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Lastly, for more information on R-1234yf please click here to be taken to our official 1234yf Refrigerant Fact and Information Sheet.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

 

History & Past

Sometimes it is worth to slow down and look in the rear view mirror and see where we have been to find out where we are going. The same analogy can be used when it comes to R-12 refrigerant. R-12 was the the ‘mother’ of all modern day refrigerants that we see and use everyday in today’s world. Without it, the world would look very different. In this article we’re going to take a brief look at where R-12 came from, how it came to be, and why it is no longer used in the world today.

In the early 1900’s the world was looking for a solution for refrigeration and air conditioning. There had been numerous experiments and trials on differing refrigerants ranging from Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, Propane, Sulfur Dioxide, and Methyl Chloride. Each one of these refrigerants were able to provide cooling and refrigeration but they all had potential downsides. It could have been safety concerns through toxicity or flammability, high pressure, or an inflated price point. There needed to be a more viable refrigerant introduced into the marketplace.

It was in the 1930’s that a partnership was formed between two companies: General Motors and DuPont. This partnership organized by Charles Kettering of General Motors was geared towards solving this problem. Over the new few years Thomas Midgley Jr, along with a few other team members, pushed forward with the invention of ChloroFluroCarbons (CFCs) and HydroChloroFluroCarbons (HCFCs). Out of these inventions two primary refrigerants came: R-12 and R-22. The introduction of R-12 showed the world that a refrigerant was possible that was safe, economical, and easily adapted to various applications.

In just a few decades R-12 and R-22 were found in nearly every home and business across the world. The explosive growth of refrigerant and air conditioning continued to propel forwards for decades and decades. All of this came to a head in the 1980’s when a team of scientists based out of California realized that the Chlorine found in these ever popular refrigerants were causing damage to the Ozone layer. What would happen is a machine would either develop a leak, or the refrigerant would be vented, or the machine would be scrapped entirely and refrigerant would leak out. This leaked refrigerant would work it’s way up into the atmosphere and stagnate in the Stratosphere. There the Chlorine found in R-12 would degrade and harm the Ozone layer. All of this got so bad over the decades of CFC and HCFC use that a thinning of the Ozone layer began to form over the Arctic. The scientists noticing this sounded the alarm and the world’s governments took action by creating the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol is a treaty that was signed in the late 1980’s by more then one-hundred countries. It’s goal was to rid the world of using Ozone depleting substances like CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was enacted in countries all over the world. The first target was CFC refrigerants such as R-12. In 1992 R-12 was phased out of the automotive market in the United States and was replaced with the newer HFC refrigerant known as R-134a. R-134a had the benefit of not containing Chlorine so with its usage there would be no danger to the Ozone layer. The next refrigerant to go was the CFC refrigerant known as R-502 in the mid 1990’s. As time went by there were other CFC and HCFC refrigerants phased out but the big change didn’t happen until 2010.

In today’s world R-12 is a very rare occurrence. Most machines and systems that were using it have since been retired. Like I mentioned in a previous section, the only use cases that I know of in the year 2019 are those folks who are restoring classic automobiles. Even in these cases though I believe most people are going the retrofit route and changing their systems over to R-134a. The cost of R-12 is just too expensive and we all know that a fully restored classic car is never entirely original. There are always aftermarket parts that find their way in.

Conclusion

For more information on R-12 consider visiting our R-12 Refrigerant Fact Sheet by clicking here.

Thanks for reading and I hope this information was helpful,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

facts

As most of you know we here at RefrigerantHQ are taking the time to put together what’s known as our fact and information sheets on each specific refrigerant that is out there. So far we have touched on quite a few HFC and even HFO refrigerants. But are good friends from days past, CFCs, have been neglected. I would be amiss if we forgot one of the most influential refrigerants out there, R-12. There may be some debate to this statement, but I believe that R-12 was and is the mother of all refrigerants. It was the foundation refrigerant and gave us the building blocks to other refrigerants that we see used every day around us.

But, what is R-12? What is the history behind this influential refrigerant? What is the significance of the Freon brand name? In this article we will answer these questions and more. Like with our previous fact sheets we will start this out with a table that goes over all of the upfront facts about R-12 Freon refrigerant. Let’s dive in and take a look!

The Facts

Name:R-12
Name - Scientific:Dichlorodifluoromethane
Name (2):CFC-12
Name (3):Freon-12
Name (4):Genetron 12
Name (5):Fluorocarbon 12
Name (6):Arcton-12
Classification:CFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:CCl2F2
Status:Phased Out Across The World Due to Montreal Protocol
Why Phased Out?Due To R-12 Damaging Ozone Layer
Future:Is Already Phased Out
Application:Very Wide Range of Applications - Can't Cover Them All!
Application (2):Refrigerators, Freezers, Ice Makers, Water Coolers
Application (3):Mobile Refrigeration Including Automotive & Refrigerated Transport
Application (4): Large Centrifugal Chillers, Open Drive AC, & Process
Cooling
Application (5):Misc High, Medium, or Low Temp Refrigerant Systems
Replacement For:Previous Hydrocarbons and Natural Refrigerants
Replaced By:Various Refrigerants, But Mainly R-22 and R-134a
Ozone Depletion Potential:1.0
Global Warming Potential:10,900
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Flash PointN/A - Not Flammable
Lubricant Required:Mineral Oil, also known as Alkyl Benzene.
Boiling Point:-29.8° Celsius or -21.64° Fahrenheit or 243.3° Kelvin
Critical Temperature:111.97° Celsius or 233.55° Fahrenheit or 385.12° Kelvin
Critical Pressure (Absolute):4,136 (KPA)
Atmospheric Lifetime (Years)100
Molecular Mass120.90 g·mol−1
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Shut Down Due to Phase Out (Maybe in China Still!)
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Ether Like At Very High Concentrations
EPA Certification Required:Yes, Section 608 Certification Required To Use
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, Section 608 Certification Required To Purchase
Cylinder Color:White
Cylinder Design:Thirty Pound Cylinder
Cylinder Design (2):
Price Point:VERY HIGH - $600 Upwards to $1,000 Per Cylinder
Future Price Prediction:Price Has Been Stable Due To Phase Out
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?EBay.com Is Your Best Bet - Click Here To View Available Product
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Thoughts on R-12

I mentioned at the beginning of this article that R-12 is the ‘mother’ of all refrigerants. This is because R-12 was the very first mainstream refrigerant that saw usage and development around the world. Before the arrival of R-12 there was a mish-mash of natural refrigerants being used with hit and miss results. Either the refrigerant being used was toxic like R-717 (Ammonia), the refrigerant operated at too high of a pressure like R-744 (Carbon Dioxide), the refrigerant had a high flammability rating like R-290 (Propane), or the refrigerant was just too expensive for widespread usage. The invention of R-12 provided an answer to the price question as well as the safety question. Because of this, it’s usage exploded. I won’t get into all of the details here, but will save the more in-depth discussion about R-12’s history in our next section.

For now folks, let’s take a look at some of the most notable facts about R-12:

  • First and foremost, you should know that R-12 has been completely phased out in the United States and across the world. This refrigerant was phased out due to it’s Ozone Depletion Potential or ODP. The short version of what happened here is that when R-12 was vented or released into the atmosphere it would not break down as it made it’s way up to the stratosphere. Instead, the Chlorine in the chemical composition would stay intact and eventually cause damage to what’s known as the Ozone layer. This layer acts as a shield from ultraviolet rays from the sun. If this layer was gone or severely weakened then the radiation would begin to come through and cases of skin cancer and other diseases would begin to surface much more frequently. That’s the tamest of the scenarios of a damaged Ozone. R-12 along with other CFC and HCFC refrigerants were banned to prevent any further damage to the Ozone and to allow the Ozone layer to heal.
  • I mentioned this earlier but R-12 was the first refrigerant that was actually safe to use. It can be traced back to the 1930’s and back then there just wasn’t a ‘good’ refrigerant to use. Sure, there were some refrigerant and air conditioning applications that could be found, but they were rare and they had a high risk of failure. In some cases this risk of failure was also a risk to your safety. R-12 came around and provided consumers and businesses with a safe and cheaper alternative refrigerant.
  • R-12 has a relatively low boiling point at only -29.8° Celsius or -21.64° Fahrenheit. If you compare this to some of the other refrigerants out there such as R-22 (-40.7° C), R-744 (-78.0° C), or R-410A (-48.5° C). You can begin to see the significant difference here between R-12’s boiling point and other refrigerants. This low boiling point was also a key factor in the varying applications that R-12 was used for. Due to the wide range of applications, the low boiling point, the low price, and the safety features R-12 exploded in growth across the globe.
  • The end of R-12’s reign began in the 1980’s and went into the early 1990’s. I mentioned the Ozone layer problem above. Well, all of this started in the early 1980’s and came to it’s conclusion in the early 1990’s when the last step of phasing out R-12 began. This last step was in automotive applications. If you were to have bought a car in 1991 or 1992 you would have most likely had R-12 refrigerant. However, if you were to purchase a vehicle in 1994 or 1995 then your vehicle would have been using the new HFC R-134a refrigerant.
  • Today, in 2019 R-12 is very difficult to find. If you do find it the chances are it is a rusted out cylinder that may have been damaged. Any R-12 cylinders left in circulation today are products that someone squirreled away twenty or thirty years ago. Now, if the refrigerant was stored properly in a climate controlled warehouse without exposure to moisture then it most likely still has virgin pure R-12 refrigerant in it. However, if it has been exposed or damaged then the quality may be compromised. Most of the time these cylinders can be found on EBay.com, but make sure that you are section 608 certified with the EPA before you purchase. You will have to provide your certification number.
  • Along with the increased rarity of R-12 you will also notice that price has gone through the roof. A thirty pound virgin cylinder in good condition may be closer to one-thousand dollars. Some of the damaged cylinders we mentioned above may be around five-hundred to six-hundred dollars. Be sure to pay attention when purchasing some of these as in most cases the cylinder has been opened and some of it has already been used. So, you may end up only getting twenty or twenty-five pounds out of your thirty pound cylinder.

    1981 Ford-F150
    1981 Ford-F150
  • The good news is that today very little people actually need R-12 Freon. Most of the applications have been retired and scrapped. The only exception that I know of in today’s world (2019) is automotive restorers. My father as an example restores classic cars as a hobby. Most of the models he works on are from 1950’s and air conditioning wasn’t as prevalent then. But, let’s pretend you’re working on my dream restoration car, a 1981 F-150. In this case you would have to make a decision on rather to use the original air conditioning system and get your hands on a few cans of R-12. Or, you could install or retrofit over to an R-134a system. Besides these exceptions, I don’t see another need for R-12 being used in the world today.
  • The last point that I want to make is that in recent years (2018-2019) we have had reports of R-11 and other CFC refrigerants being found again in the atmosphere. This is odd as all of these were phased out twenty years ago. How are they being found again? In one specific instance the R-11 traces were able to be traced to a province in China. A company in China was actively producing R-11 foam and refrigerants for use throughout the country and for exports. The Chinese Government denied any affiliation with this company and have since gone after the company.

R-12 Refrigerant History

In the early 1900’s the world was looking for a solution for refrigeration and air conditioning. There had been numerous experiments and trials on differing refrigerants ranging from Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, Propane, Sulfur Dioxide, and Methyl Chloride. Each one of these refrigerants were able to provide cooling and refrigeration but they all had potential downsides. It could have been safety concerns through toxicity or flammability, high pressure, or an inflated price point. There needed to be a more viable refrigerant introduced into the marketplace.

It was in the 1930’s that a partnership was formed between two companies: General Motors and DuPont. This partnership organized by Charles Kettering of General Motors was geared towards solving this problem. Over the new few years Thomas Midgley Jr, along with a few other team members, pushed forward with the invention of ChloroFluroCarbons (CFCs) and HydroChloroFluroCarbons (HCFCs). Out of these inventions two primary refrigerants came: R-12 and R-22. The introduction of R-12 showed the world that a refrigerant was possible that was safe, economical, and easily adapted to various applications.

In just a few decades R-12 and R-22 were found in nearly every home and business across the world. The explosive growth of refrigerant and air conditioning continued to propel forwards for decades and decades. All of this came to a head in the 1980’s when a team of scientists based out of California realized that the Chlorine found in these ever popular refrigerants were causing damage to the Ozone layer. What would happen is a machine would either develop a leak, or the refrigerant would be vented, or the machine would be scrapped entirely and refrigerant would leak out. This leaked refrigerant would work it’s way up into the atmosphere and stagnate in the Stratosphere. There the Chlorine found in R-12 would degrade and harm the Ozone layer. All of this got so bad over the decades of CFC and HCFC use that a thinning of the Ozone layer began to form over the Arctic. The scientists noticing this sounded the alarm and the world’s governments took action by creating the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol is a treaty that was signed in the late 1980’s by more then one-hundred countries. It’s goal was to rid the world of using Ozone depleting substances like CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was enacted in countries all over the world. The first target was CFC refrigerants such as R-12. In 1992 R-12 was phased out of the automotive market in the United States and was replaced with the newer HFC refrigerant known as R-134a. R-134a had the benefit of not containing Chlorine so with its usage there would be no danger to the Ozone layer. The next refrigerant to go was the CFC refrigerant known as R-502 in the mid 1990’s. As time went by there were other CFC and HCFC refrigerants phased out but the big change didn’t happen until 2010.

In today’s world R-12 is a very rare occurrence. Most machines and systems that were using it have since been retired. Like I mentioned in a previous section, the only use cases that I know of in the year 2019 are those folks who are restoring classic automobiles. Even in these cases though I believe most people are going the retrofit route and changing their systems over to R-134a. The cost of R-12 is just too expensive and we all know that a fully restored classic car is never entirely original. There are always aftermarket parts that find their way in.

Conclusion

While R-12 Freon refrigerant is a thing of the past we should always remember where we came from. In today’s world HFC refrigerants are being phased out just like their CFC and HCFC cousins. The refrigerant industry is constantly evolving and changing. In another twenty years the world may be using something completely different then we are today. The thing to keep in mind though is that we approach 2030 we should take the time and honor the R-12 invention from a one-hundred years ago that got us to this point.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

logo

Hello all. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and a good upcoming New Years. I took most of the last week off of work and working on RefrigerantHQ. Sometimes it is nice to take a step back and spend some relaxing time with the family.

During this time I was thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in 2019 for RefrigerantHQ. 2018 was a great year for the website and we saw a lot of growth. In 2017 we ended the year at three-hundred and seventy-thousand views. While there are still a few days left in 2018 I can safely say that we will end this year at five-hundred and forty-thousand views. That is nearly fifty percent year over year growth. Not a bad number if you ask me!

Breaking these same numbers down per day we find that we are averaging around fifteen-hundred views per day for the 2018 year. This was again a nearly fifty percent year over year increase. Obviously, our best month this year was in July at just over one-hundred thousand visitors and our worst month this year is this month at around twenty-thousand views.

We also saw significant growth in our mailing list subscribers. We started 2018 at just over six-hundred subscribers and we are now over sixteen-hundred. We aim to have over twenty-five hundred by the end of 2019.

Recognition

Along with the growth we mentioned above RefrigerantHQ has also begun to be noticed by those within the industry. Towards the beginning of the year we were invited to a refrigerant trade show put on by the SHECCO company. While we appreciated the invitation we were not yet in the position to began attending trade shows.

Please remember that RefrigerantHQ is a hobby of mine and I still have my full-time employment to balance as well as my wife and kids. There are times where it can be tough and I have yet to find the time to attend some of these trade shows. However, as the years progress and growth continues you may begin to see a RefrigerantHQ presence at industry trade events.

Throughout the year we have received story leads and topic ideas from various folks including some of the larger names within the industry such as Chemours and Honeywell. If you have any topic ideas feel free to reach out to me and let me know. The more the better!

This summer we had a lunch meeting with ITW Sexton, also known as Sexton Cans. Sexton, based out of Decatur, Alabama, is the company that is behind the refrigerant cans that you find in automotive stores and dealership shelves. Their products are DOT and ISO certified and they stand behind their quality.

Lastly, earlier this month we met with some folks from Harp International. Harp is a global distributor of refrigerants based out of the United Kingdom. During their visit to Americas they booked an extra flight in Kansas City to meet me for lunch. We had a few beers in downtown Kansas City and talked about the wonderful topic of refrigerants for a few hours. They were good contacts to establish and I look forward to meeting with them in the future. I occasionally travel to Brussels for my day job, so we might just have to arrange a visit!

2019 & The Future

The future of RefrigerantHQ is growth, of course. But, what kind of growth? I’ve been thinking about this for a while as I plan out how I want to grow the website. This time last year I thought adding community forums would be a good way to grow and also offer another feature for my readers. After piloting this for around six months I found that it just wasn’t worth it. The forums became overrun with spam and fake messages and then towards the end of July the forums allowed hackers to infiltrate my site. The site was down for a week while I made frantic repairs.

Looking towards next year one goal that I have in mind is to create more and more of our Refrigerant Fact Sheets. These posts focus on providing anything and everything to do with a specific refrigerant. The goal here is to have a one stop place to answer any question on a refrigerant. Eventually, we will have a fact sheet for every popular refrigerant out there… and maybe for every single refrigerant.

Along with the fact sheets we will also be keeping up with the latest refrigerant news here in the United States. This includes regulation changes, pricing changes, supply and demand, tariffs, and everything else. We want to be the place you go to for the latest news and changes within the industry. If over the next year you know of a story or article that should be written please do not hesitate to reach out to me either via e-mail, Twitter, or Facebook. Chances are we will review the story and write it up for our subscribers.

Also, if you feel like something is missing from the website or there is something that you are always looking for online and can never find please let me know. I’m always looking for that next big idea within the industry.

Conclusion

Next year our predicted view count should surpass seven-hundred thousand. My optimistic goal is to hit over eight-hundred but the seven-hundred number is more then reasonable and should be easily accomplished. This traffic will be a mix from all corners of the industry including manufacturers, distributors, contractors, technicians, and even end-users.

I’ve mentioned this earlier and in previous posts, but my goal with RefrigerantHQ is to turn it into a full fledged refrigerant magazine and for it to turn into a full time income source. Today there are multiple revenue streams that are helping me reach this goal.

I have considered offering advertising on my website as well from various sponsors throughout the industry. While I have had a few inquiries I have yet to sign with a company. At this point I am uncertain if this is the business model I want to move forward with. Time will tell.

If any of you have other ideas for potential revenue streams I am open to suggestions.

Thanks for reading and I hope you and your family have a great New Year!

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

There is no better indicator or barometer within the industry then the Carrier Corporation. After all, they are one of the biggest and most stable air conditioning manufacturers out there. They are one the ‘trend setters’ within the industry. When a business decision is made everyone watches, observes, and they may even imitate. The same can be said when they choose a new refrigerant.

That is exactly what happened. The Carrier Corporation along with Chemours announced today that Carrier would be transitioning their ducted residential and commercial air conditioning products away from R-410A and over to R-454B. This new refrigerant R-454B, also known as XL41, is an HFO refrigerant from Chemours under their Opteon brand name. The transition for Carrier is scheduled to begin by the year 2023. This is a big deal folks. This could very well be the beginning of the end for R-410A. Especially if other companies began to follow suit.

As most of you know there has been a battle going on for the past few years as to what refrigerant will be the golden choice to replace R-410A. It seems like Puron has only been around for a few years but now there are already companies and countries pushing it out and wanting a better more climate friendly alternative. As I write this article today there is still not one clear and defined winner. None of this isn’t for lack of trying though. There are all sorts of 410A alternatives out there, the problem is none of them were gaining significant traction. This news from the Carrier corporation adds fuel to the fire for R-454B. Along with Carrier some other prominent companies have announced their support for XL41 including Johnson Controls and York. With Carrier coming on board I wouldn’t be surprised if we begin to see more companies announce their support in the not too distant future.

The big distinction here and the reason companies are switching to XL41 is that it has a significantly lessened Global Warming Potential then the other alternatives out there. R-454B has a GWP of only four-hundred and sixty-seven. That is nearly eighty percent less GWP then R-410A and even thirty percent less then the proposed R-32 alternative. This very low GWP gives companies and manufacturers peace of mind knowing that they will meet future climate targets today if they make the switch. I would be apt to purchase one of these machines if I knew it was going to stand the test of time and not have to go through a phase down/phase out period.

The downside though with this newer HFO refrigerant is that ASHRAE has it rated as an A2L. The 2L is what may worry some of you, as that means that the refrigerant has lower flammability rating and a lower burning velocity. While some of you may already have experience working with lower or even mildly flammable refrigerants others may not. In reality though folks, flammable refrigerants are perfectly safe as long as you follow all of the proper precautions and safety procedures.

Conclusion

For more information on R-454B please click this link to be taken to our official fact and information sheet on the refrigerant. This sheet attempts to provide any and all information you would ever need on 454B. Rather it’s the GWP, the chemistry, what’s in the blend, the temperature glide, or anything else we aim to have it in our fact sheet. If while reading you find something that isn’t accurate or if you found that we missed something please do not hesitate to reach out to me and let me know. I want RefrigerantHQ to be a great resource for those of us in the industry and I can’t do that if I have mistakes up!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

facts

Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to RefrigerantHQ. Today we will be taking an in-depth look at the newer HFO refrigerant from Chemours known as R-454B or XL41. This Opteon HFO refrigerant was created as an alternative to the ever commonly used R-410A Puron. While we have only been using 410A for around ten years or so there is already a push to phase down 410A usage and replace it with a refrigerant with much lesser Global Warming Potential.

One of the top contenders to replace R-410A is this new HFO refrigerant known as R-454B. In this article we’re going to take a look at all of the facts about this refrigerant and also share our thoughts about the refrigerant. If you see anything that is missing or if anything is inaccurate please reach out to me and I will correct as soon as possible.

The Facts

Name:R-454B
Name (2):XL41 (Opteon)
BrandOpteon (Chemours)
Classification:HFOs
Chemistry:HFO Blend: R-32 (68.9%) & R-1234yf (31.1%)
Chemistry (2):Click Here for R-32 Fact Sheet
Chemistry (3):Click Here for R-1234yf Fact Sheet
Status:Active & Growing Market.
Future:Set to Replace R-410A Applications
Application:Residential & Commercial Air-Conditioning.
Application (2):Heat Pumps & Chillers
Replacement For:R-410A Puron
Retrofitting From R-410A?No, New Machines Only.
Why Can't I Retrofit?Due to 2L Flammability Rating.
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:467 (78% Less Then R-410A)
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 2L - Lower Flammability
Lubricant Required:POE
Boiling Point (101.3 kpa):-50.9° Celsius or -59.62° Fahrenheit.
Temperature Glide-1.5 K or -462.37 Fahrenheit
Critical Temperature:77.11 Celsius or 170.60° Fahrenheit
Liquid Density (21.1 °C)996.5 kg/m3 (62.2 lb/ft3)
Auto ignition Temperature:Unknown ( Couldn't Find)
Burning Velocity (23 °C)5.2 cm/s (2.0 in/s)
Molar Mass111.8
Molecular Weight62.6 g/mol
Manufacturers:Chemours
Manufacturing Facilities:United States (Texas)
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Slight, ether-like
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Undefined by ASHRAE
Safety Data Sheet (SDS)Click here (Sourced from Climalife.co.uk)
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Thoughts on R-454B

R-454B, or XL41, was invented and designed by the Chemours company as an alternative to R-410A applications. These applications include your traditional home air conditioners, your commercial air conditioners, heat pumps, and the occasional chiller. XL41 is a blended HFO refrigerant is comprised of sixty-eight point nine percent R-32 and thirty-one point one percent R-1234yf.

One of the biggest attractions of R-454B is the savings in whats known as Global Warming Potential, or GWP. Every refrigerant out there rather it is a hundred years old or it was just invented yesterday has a GWP rating. GWP is a measurement on how potent a certain chemical is to the environment. The higher the GWP number the worse it is. Like with all scales, there needs to be a zeroing point. In this case the zero scale is Carbon Dioxide, or R-744. CO2 has a GWP number of one. As a comparison the commonly used R-410A refrigerant has a GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight.

Looking at that number we can begin to see the problem with R-410A. It is directly contributing to Global Warming and Climate Change. The reason R-454B is being selected for newer applications is due to it’s much lower Global Warming Potential. 454B’s GWP is four-hundred and sixty-seven. That is nearly an eighty percent decrease when compared to Puron. This impressive number puts it at the lowest GWP alternative to R-410A. To give you some perspective, the other contender as an R-410A replacement, R-32, has a GWP of six-hundred and seventy-five. R-454B is an additional thirty percent lower. Along with that, 454B has a zero Ozone Depletion Potential rating so there is no risk there either. It is a very healthy refrigerant for the environment.

R-454B, or XL41, is classified as an HydroFluroOlefin refrigerant. These types of refrigerants, known as HFOs, are known for a few things. The first is that they have significantly lower Global Warming Potential then the commonly used HFC refrigerants of today. This fact right here checks a lot of boxes for business owners and manufacturers and may be enough to get them on board. However, like with any refrigerant, there is always a downside. HFO refrigerants are also known for their flammability. It seems we never can truly ‘win’ with refrigerants. There are always Pros and Cons.

In the case of R-454B it is rated by ASHRAE as an A2L. The A rating is great as it indicates that the refrigerant is not toxic. Other refrigerants with this same ratings are R-22, R-134a, and R-410A. The problem though lies in the 2L rating. This indicates a lower flammability rating for R-454B. Most of the common HFC refrigerants that we handle today are rated as a 1 by ASHRAE. A 1 rated refrigerant indicates that there is no risk of flame propagation. A 2 rated refrigerant has a lower flammability rating. Now, a 2L rated refrigerant means that along with the lower flammability we also have a lower burning velocity. This 2L sits R-454B right in the middle of the flammability refrigerant scale. While HFCs are rated as a 1 other very flammable refrigerants like Propane (R-290) are rated at a 3.

While a flammable refrigerant may sound intimidating and dangerous we should mention that they are perfectly safe and are used everyday throughout various Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. They do this daily and prevent accidents due to two major factors. The first is that they take the proper precautions when installing and handling flammable refrigerants. The second is routine maintenance. If you follow your training and ensure that everything is done by the book you’ll be fine.

Regardless though, the thought of working with flammable refrigerant deters a lot of technicians and contractors from using these newer HFO refrigerants. Lastly, since R-454B has an increased flammability rating then R-410A you are NOT able to retrofit existing 410A machines over to take R-454B. This is due to the specialized parts and components that a flammable refrigerant needs for it to work safely. If you wish to go with R-454B refrigerant you will need to purchase a whole new machine.

A few other notes worth sharing on R-454B:

  • XL41/454B is rated as five percent more efficient then R-410A Puron.
  • 454B offers the lowest GWP alternative to R-410A all without compromising on system performance.
  • While retrofitting isn’t possible, R-454B will not require major equipment modifications.

Conclusion

It is far too early to say rather or not R-454B will be the fabled R-410A killer or not. There are numerous alternatives out there that are all gaining traction. The question now though is will one of these began to gain speed over the others? Will companies around the globe began to pick one over the other? It may already be happening with R-454B. There are numerous articles and stories out there about companies moving away from R-410A and over to R-454B. Just a few of these companies are Carrier, York, and Johnson Controls. These are all huge names in the industry and may indicate a turning point.

But, as I said before folks, at this point it is still a guessing game. The true alternative for R-410A may have not even made it’s debut yet. Time will only tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

It was announced last week that the State of Washington would be joining four other states in having their own HFC phase down plan. The announcement came from the desk of Governor Jay Inslee. While it is still preliminary and needs to be approved by the State Congress the hopes are high that this will be the first step in reducing HFCs across the state. The proposed plan outlines over two-hundred and seventy million dollars aimed at reducing Climate Change across Washington. Out of this allotment the HFC phase down will receive just under one million dollars. The end goal here is having HFC usage across the state down to twenty-five percent below 1990 levels by the year 2035.

As I said above, Washington will now make the fifth state with a targeted HFC phase down plan. California, like in many cases, was the first state to introduce their HFC plan and then not too much after New York announced a similar plan. The very next week after New York announced Maryland and Connecticut announced their plans. (I wrote a story about this that can be found by clicking here).

As you can see, this is the beginning of a domino effect. With each state that moves forward with an HFC phase down plan there is more and more pressure applied to manufacturers and distributors throughout the country. It doesn’t matter if you are a car manufacturer based out of Louisiana. If you’re making cars you want those cars to be able to be sold throughout all fifty states. It wouldn’t make much sense to have cars specifically targeted to one set of states and then a different car targeted to another. It’s not good business sense. Manufacturers want uniformity.

This line of thinking by manufacturers is what will allow the United States to push forward with HFC phase downs even without the Kigali Amendment ratified or the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 in place. While we have seen quite a bit of turmoil at the Federal level we are still able to see results due to individual states pushing forward. In the case of this latest article on Washington we should also note that Washington was a founding member of what’s known as the ‘Climate Alliance.’ The Climate Alliance is a collection of sixteen states that have all agreed to work towards reducing their carbon footprint and to fighting Climate Change/Global Warming. This alliance is set to grown next year when newly elected Democratic governors from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois come to office.

This alliance is the first step in phasing down HFC’s across the country. It seems to be the only feasible strategy at this point. Everything else has failed and even if we only get twenty states on board, that should be enough. All we need is enough population and buying power on board with phasing down HFCs. The moment that happens is the moment we will begin to see manufacturers switching over to alternative refrigerants. The ones that do not make the switch will see their sales and margins drop. They may have to be dragged along kicking and screaming, but in the end we all know that money talks. If you can’t sell a R-404A system to your customer in California then you’re going to look for an alternative. It’s that simple.

The only downside here I can see by having states do this on their own is that the timeline will most likely be extended. As an example, let’s look at R-134a. In the case of 134a the EPA’s targeted phase down on new vehicles was set for 2020. (2021 model years.) That regulation date has since been removed due to court rulings.

The question now though is how close will we come to EPA’s original date? Will we be a few years past, or will it take a decade for enough states to get on board? Time will tell, but if the past few months have been any indicator then I would say we can expect many more states announcing their plans to phase down HFC refrigerants.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

A few years back there was a lot of debate between varying refrigerant manufacturers and distributors on rather there should be tariffs installed on Chinese imported refrigerant. The argument was that China was dumping very low priced, often government subsidized, HFC refrigerants into the United States. The constant supply of imports caused the prices to shrink and shrink. This price depression ended up hurting American companies.

I remember a specific instance about eight years ago where I was working on a trailer load purchase of R-134a. (Forty cylinders to a pallet and twenty pallets on a trailer.) I called around to all of the usual players looking to get the absolute best price. Often times I would leverage one distributor against the other trying to get them as low as I could. Well during this time I was receiving quotes around the sixty dollar range. Some were high sixties, some middle, and others towards the lower end. If I was lucky I could find a distributor selling at a fifty-nine or fifty-eight dollars a cylinder.

During this same time the company I worked for was experimenting with importing their own product. We hadn’t officially done any imports, but we were testing the waters. In the case of this trailer load purchase of R-134a we went ahead and requested quotes from China. The quotes I received back were astonishing. I had three to four quotes and each and everyone was hovering around forty to forty-five dollars a cylinder. Yes, we had to pay freight to get the product over the ocean… but it was negligible when looking at that forty dollar price range. In the end we ended up going with an American distributor and paid the higher price. The import process wasn’t worth the headache to us, but to many others it was.

These drastic price differences between US and China refrigerants caused the overall price to drop and drop. This dropping price began to eat into the pockets of local distributors and manufacturers. As the years passed their margins shrunk and shrunk. If the price depression kept up then it wouldn’t make business sense to continue producing and selling domestic refrigerant. In order to correct this price depression suits were filed with the United States International Trade Commission. These suits requested an anti-dumping tariff on R-134a as well as other common HFC refrigerants. The aim was to install tariffs on Chinese imported refrigerant that would inflate the cost of these refrigerants so that they would be more in line with the American market price point. In essence, it would level the playing field and put China product on equal footing with American.

There was quite a bit of debate on these suits and they took quite a while to come to fruition. I remember watching the headlines and the moment any potential ruling would come out the price on refrigerants would jump up or down overnight. Eventually, a decision was made by the Trade Commission. In the summer of 2016 the Commission agreed to install anti-dumping tariffs on HFC refrigerant blends. The big ones here are R-410A and R-404A. While having the tariff approved was great news… there was a small problem. The tariff was ONLY on the specific blended refrigerants, so only on R-410A and R-404A. (Other blends as well.) The tariff was NOT on the components of those refrigerants. In other words, if I imported Chinese R-410A refrigerant today I would pay the tariff. However, if I import Chinese R-125 and R-32 into the US then I face no tariffs. (R-125 and R-32 blended equals R-410A.) Begin to see the problem here?

Once this ruling was announced there was a change within the industry, but it was only slight. Now all of the Chinese importers moved from purchasing R-410A over to purchasing the component refrigerants and then blending the refrigerant in house. We are now back to square one due to a governmental oversight. The good news here is that R-134a is not a blend and an anti-dumping tariff was levied against it in spring of 2017.

The Future

In an effort to change the ruling from 2016 an additional suit has been filed with the International Trade Commission. This additional suit has requested tariffs be placed on imported refrigerant blend components as well. This would include your R-125, R-32, and other similar refrigerants. What’s unique about this is that manufacturers that are usually at odds with each other are working together to stop the flow of Chinese refrigerants. Arkema, Chemours, and Honeywell have all joined and pushed this suit forward to the Trade Commission.

At this point in time we are all still waiting on a ruling from the Trade Commission. It was announced last week that the Commission needs an additional two months before a decision can be made. (Link) They gave themselves the deadline of March 11th. We’ll see if that comes to fruition or not.

While we all sit patiently and wait to see what happens here I can only imagine what will happen to the prices of these refrigerants if a tariff is installed. Yes, it may be for the good of American companies but are American consumers and contractors happily going to pay the increased price? Will the price points with tariffs be perfectly in line with what the American market is? Or, will we price the Chinese product so far out of market that we consumers will buy American be default?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

facts

In an effort to build our refrigerant fact and information sheets further we have taken the time today to put together some details on the HFC R-32 refrigerant. Like in our previous fact sheets we will first go over all of the details about this refrigerant and then we will touch on some of the most notable points. Without further ado, let’s take a look:

The Facts

Name:R-32
Name - Scientific:Difluoromethane
Name (2):HFC-32
Classification:HFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:CH2F2
Chemistry (2):Carbon fluoride hydride
Chemistry (3):Methylene difluoride
Chemistry (4):Methylene fluoride
Status:Active & Growing Market.
Future:May be Phased Out in Next Ten-Twenty Years Due to GWP.
Application:Residential & Commercial Air-Conditioning.
Application (2):Industrial Refrigeration
Application (3):Key Ingredient in the R-410A Puron Blend.
Application (4):Key Ingredient to other refrigerant blends such as R-407A, R-407B, etc.
Replacement For:R-22 Freon & R-410A Puron
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:675
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 2 - Lower Flammability
Lubricant Required:POE
Boiling Point:-52.5° Celsius or -62.0° Fahrenheit.
Critical Temperature:78.11 Celsius or 172.60° Fahrenheit
Critical Pressure:5.72 MPA or 829.62 pound-force per square inch.
Auto ignition Temperature:648° Celsius or 1,198° Fahrenheit
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Undefined by ASHRAE
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Thoughts on R-32

You may not know this but R-32 is one of the most popular refrigerants in the world. While you may not physically see it everyday I can assure you that it is riding in the back of your service van as you travel from customer to customer. Not sure what I mean? Well R-32 is one of the key ingredients to form R-410A Puron. So, while you may not be carrying around a cylinder of R-32 you are carrying around Puron that was made from R-32. In fact, R-32 is used in quite a bit of blends in today’s world. It is used to create various refrigerants such as: R-410A, R-407A, R-407B, R-407C, R-407D, R-407E, R-407F and R-410B. R-32 along with R-125 are some of the most versatile refrigerants used today.

While we are used to using R-32 as a blend it is also seeing a rise of usage in residential and commercial air conditioners. This rise started in the eastern countries like Japan, Korea, India, and now Australia. Japan alone has over ten million R-32 units installed and running. These countries are using R-32 as an alternative to the higher Global Warming Potential (GWP) R-410A Puron. In fact some of them just skipped right from R-22 over to R-32 and didn’t even bother with R-410A. While R-32 isn’t perfect with it’s six-hundred and seventy-five GWP it is significantly better then R-410A’s GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight. That’s a nearly seventy percent decrease in GWP just by using R-32 over R-410A. This switch from R-410A over to R-32 has also begun to pick up speed over in the European Union. 

Over here in America though the move from 410A to 32 has been much slower. In fact you would be hard pressed to find a full residential or commercial R-32 air conditioning unit. This is mainly due to R-32 not being SNAP approved for larger air conditioning units. (SNAP approval list can be found by clicking here.) Now, I’ll be honest with you folks here. I was a bit confused when writing this article. When I looked through the EPA’s listing of refrigerants approved for home and light commercial air conditioning I didn’t find R-32 listed. However, I did find articles where R-32 units are being manufactured and used right here in the United States. The only difference that I could find was that these units being manufactured here are very small air conditioning units mainly for hotel rooms. The story from the CoolingPost can be found by clicking here. The distinction I can see here is that the smaller air conditioners used for hotels were approved by SNAP under a different application category.

While R-32 may not be listed in the EPA’s SNAP approved refrigerant it’s usage is spreading across the world. I have read many articles stating that R-32 is expected to be the standard refrigerant for home and commercial traditional split air conditioners. There are a lot of benefits to R-32, number one being reducing the carbon footprint and Global Warming Potential. Another point is that R-32 doesn’t require as high as a charge as 410A does. (Twenty percent less) So, you save money on efficiency and also when replacing the refrigerant in case of a leak or repair down the road. Another big pro on R-32 that not a lot of folks realize is that 32 is a single refrigerant. It is NOT a blended refrigerant. That simple fact can make a big difference when you go to recover, recycle, or even try to reclaim a blended refrigerant. I’ve been told by a few reclaimers that R-410A is nearly impossible to reclaim as a recovered cylinder may only contain eighty percent of one refrigerant. The reclaimer then has to tap into a virgin bottle of the missing refrigerant to get the blend back to the proper ratios. You will not have this problem with R-32.

It’s not all a bed of roses though folks. As with any refrigerant there are always upsides and downsides. In the case of R-32 the big downside is it’s safety rating. Unlike Ammonia R-717, it is not the toxicity that we need to worry about. No, in the case of R-32 it’s the flammability. Depending on where you look R-32 is either rated as a 2 or a 2L on the refrigerant flammability scale. (Our official ‘Refrigerant Toxicity & Flammability,’ article can be found by clicking here.) What this means folks is that there is risk of ignition when working with or using R-32. I’m not going to sugarcoat it here and try to sell you the refrigerant. If the refrigerant is handled improperly or if it is in too enclosed of a space then there is risk of ignition. It’s as simple as that. Obviously the larger the load of refrigerant you are dealing with the greater the risk there is. For more information on the risk of R-32 igniting click here to be taken to AirAH.org.au’s R-32 common questions page. The excerpt we’re looking for here is on page 2 under, ‘How easy is R-32 To Ignite?’

Tests carried out by Daikin and Suwa ,Tokyo University of Science show that even if combustion of R32 occurs (at concentrations of more than 320g/m3), it is not explosive and the possibility of fire spreading is extremely low. – Source

Over in the Asian countries this risk doesn’t seem to bother them and they more or less do just fine with R-32. Sure, there are always accidents but even these accidents can be non-events if everything is done properly and safely. Over here in America though there seems to be an aversion to dealing with flammable refrigerants such as R-32 and R-290. I’m not sure if this is just a fear of the unknown, resistance to change, or if there just no market for it. Perhaps in the future, the EPA will lift some restrictions on R-32 and techs will begin to get a feel for these flammable refrigerants.

I may have mentioned this before, but it should be brought up again. While R-32 is being marketed as a great alternative to R-410A you should know that R-32 cannot be dropped in as a replacement in an existing R-410A system. If you or your customer wants to go the R-32 route then they will need to purchase a new system specifically designed to run R-32. If you do not then you risk damaging your entire system by putting the wrong refrigerant in it. You wouldn’t put diesel in a Ford Focus would you? The same principle applies. Your 410A air conditioner is specifically made to handle 410A and your 32 system is specifically designed to handle 32. It is also worth mentioning that you should NOT attempt to retrofit a 410A unit over to 32. It is simply not safe. This is because of the 2L flammability rating. The components of an 410A machine were simply not built to safely handle flammable refrigerants. You can read more about reasons NOT to retrofit by clicking here.

The last thing I want to mention on R-32 is that it is not a miracle refrigerant. As we all know each refrigerants has it’s ups and downs. The only reason R-32 looks so sexy right now is it’s lower Global Warming Potential when compared to R-410A. But, when we are done with 410A, or when something sexier comes along, the world will drop R-32 just like it is beginning to drop R-410A. I don’t see 410A lasting another fifteen years with the ways thing are going. R-32 will be close behind it as well. While everyone is pushing for R-32 right now I am stand back from the crowd with skepticism. I predict R-32 will be gone in another twenty years. Is it worth it to the climate, the business owners, and the consumers to purchase a whole new generation of R-32 machines just to see them phased out in another ten or fifteen years?

As to what R-32 will be replaced with, I have no idea. Your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps we will see a natural refrigerant come to rise. There is always new technology being developed to accommodate these natural refrigerants and with these new technologies we are able to easily apply natural refrigerants where it was once impossible. One example off the top of my head is Daimler using R-744 Carbon Dioxide in automotive applications. Rewind ten years ago and no one had heard of such a thing. Now it is in quite a few Daimler model vehicles. Maybe instead of natural refrigerants the next generation of home and commercial air conditioners will see a refrigerant that just hasn’t been invented yet. Perhaps it is a new HFO refrigerant being developed in a lab right now by Chemours or Honeywell. Time will only tell.

Conclusion

Well folks that about covers it for R-32 refrigerant. No matter where you are in the world the chances are you or someone near you are using R-32 or they areusing an R-32 origin based blend. While it does have a much less Global Warming number then 410A I still do not see it standing the test of time. Six-hundred and seventy-five GWP is still just too much. For the foreseeable future though folks we should get used to seeing R-32.

Thanks for reading and if you found anything that was inaccurate or that was simply not stated please contact me and I will update this article.

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Not a lot of you may have heard the term or name Puron before. But a lot of you have most likely heard the name Freon before. Freon and Puron are two different types of refrigerant and to understand this difference we first need to understand where these names come from. First, let’s take a look at Freon.

The term Freon is actually a brand name trademarked by the DuPont, now Chemours, corporation. What that means is that Freon is a brand of refrigerant. It is the same way that Dr. Pepper is a brand of soda. We don’t call every soda out there Dr. Pepper. No, we either call it soda or we call it by it’s proper brand name. The same can be said about refrigerants.

Freon is a brand name of a specific type of refrigerant, mainly R-12 and R-22. The term Puron is also a brand name. The Puron brand refers to the HFC refrigerant R-410A. R-410A is the refrigerant that has replaced Freon R-22. You see, R-22 Freon was phased down across the country due to the Chlorine that it contained. When vented into the atmosphere the Chlorine would damage the Ozone layer. In order to stop this R-22 Freon was phased down and was replaced with the non Ozone depleting Puron R-410A.

Puron, or R-410A, is a blended HFC refrigerant that is made up of R-32 and R-125. (About fifty percent of each.) This 410A refrigerant is now the primary default for home and commercial air conditioners. Any air conditioner manufactured in 2010 or newer will most likely be using R-410A Puron. If you’re unsure what refrigerant your system uses you can find out by checking the sticker label on your outside unit.

While Puron is the ‘king’ refrigerant right now (2018) it may not stay on the throne forever. Puron doesn’t have an Ozone depletion potential but it does have a very high Global Warming Potential, or GWP. GWP is a measurement of how much a certain chemical contributes to Global Warming. The higher the GWP the more damage a chemical or refrigerant can do to the environment.

As I write this article there isn’t a preferred successor to R-410A but there are some contenders out there such as the HFC R-32. No one knows for certain when, or even if, R-410A Puron will be phased down or not. For now, we carry on with 410A.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-12 refrigerant is one of the founding fathers of the refrigeration and air conditioning world. While there were many other refrigerants that came before the invention of R-12 there were none quite up to par and none that had all of what R-12 had to offer. But, before we get into why the refrigerant was banned let’s first take a look at some of it’s history and where it came from.

Prior to the 1930’s there were various types of refrigerants being used across the country and the world. These could range from Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, and various other Hydrocarbons such as Propane and Isobutane. While these refrigerants did work and did provide users with a colder room or storage area they also came with various problems.

These problems could range from all over. In some cases the refrigerant was toxic if breathed in large quantities like Ammonia. In others the refrigerant was too flammable for safe use like Propane and Isobutane. While Carbon Dioxide was not toxic or flammable it’s downside was that it required an immense amount of pressure for it to complete the refrigeration cycle. Each of these refrigerants were used as a mish mash across different industries. There was not one industry leader.

All of that changed in the early 1930’s when the DuPont corporation formed a partnership with General Motors. It was during this partnership that a series of new refrigerants were invented. These new refrigerants fell under the classifications of CFCs and HCFCs. One of these newly invented refrigerants was R-12 Freon.

R-12 was one of the first refrigerants that checked all of the boxes. It was efficient. It was safe. It was non-flammable. It didn’t require immense operating pressure. All of these factors caused the amount of use of R-12 and other CFC/HCFCs to explode over the decades.

By the time 1980 hit R-12 and other CFC/HCFC refrigerants were found all over the globe. R-12 was found in nearly every car that had air conditioning. It was at this same time that a team of scientists began to notice that the Ozone layer was beginning to weaken and that there was a hole forming. The Ozone layer is a layer in the Earth’s Stratosphere that acts as a shield from ultraviolet radiation. Without it we would all be exposed to much more intense radiation that could result in increases of skin cancers and other ailments.

Alarmed at their findings the scientists alerted their governments about the problem. This eventually led to a global meeting of hundreds of countries in Montreal, Quebec. During this meeting a treaty was signed by all countries. This treaty became known as the Montreal Protocol. The treaty aimed at phasing down and phasing out various types of chemicals and agents that were contributing to the damage of the Ozone layer.

One of the first targets of global phase down was none other then R-12 refrigerant. At that time R-12 was used widely in automobiles. There was a set model year where there would be a hard stop across the country. When that date came no new vehicles would be using R-12 and would instead be transitioned over to the HFC refrigerant R-134a. (R-134a does not harm the Ozone layer.)

It was almost like ripping off a band aid. Rip it off and get it over with. That’s exactly what we did by transitioning over to the R-134a HFC refrigerant. All of the older vehicles that were using R-12 would eventually breakdown and retire. It was the beginning of the end of R-12. Within a decade or two the last remaining R-12 cars would be off the road. Sure, there will still be those collectors out there who drive vintage R-12 systems but the amount is negligible.

 Conclusion

In conclusion folks R-12 Freon was banned due to the damage that it caused to the Ozone layer. The Chlorine found in CFC refrigerants like R-12 would not break down in the atmosphere when vented or leaked. The Chlorine would then erode the Ozone bit by bit. By having R-12 no longer in use we have begun to see the Ozone heal. Hopefully in another generator all of the damage from the 20th century will be undone.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ