Freon

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

This is a question we get a lot here at RefrigerantHQ and I thought I would take some time today to lay it all out and answer everyone’s questions. First, let’s take a look at R-22 Freon itself. R-22 is an HCFC refrigerant, also known as a HydroChloroFluroCarbons. These HCFC refrigerants along with CFC refrigerants were some of the very first mainstream refrigerants seen across the world.

R-12 and R-22 along with other CFC/HCFC refrigerants were invented back in the 1930’s as the result of a partnership between the DuPont company and the General Motors corporation. These new refrigerants checked all of the boxes for them to be a mainstream refrigerant. Other competing refrigerants such as Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, and Hydrocarbons all had their own problems that limited their application usage. It could be their toxicity, their flammability, their operating pressures, or just their overall cost. Either way they were not feasible for widespread use.

The CFC and HCFC refrigerants were the key to a global refrigerant and air conditioning world. It didn’t take long for their usages to explode across the globe. By the time the 1980’s hit there were air conditioners and refrigerators all across the globe and they were nearly all using CFC or HCFC refrigerants like R-22.

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.

Included in these chemicals to be phased out were CFC and HCFC refrigerants such as R-22. The first refrigerant to be phased out was R-12. In the early 1990’s the phase out began. 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.)

As time went on there were other refrigerants phased down and eventually banned. On January 1st, 2010 is when the scheduled phase down of R-22 began. Like with other phase downs the steps would be gradual. R-22 was used ALL over the country in nearly every home and commercial air conditioner. To completely remove R-22 from the country would take time.

While the phase down plan began in 2010 it would not end for another ten years. Yes, the final stage of the phase down for R-22 is January 1st, 2020. On this date no new R-22 refrigerant can be manufactured or imported into the United States. In the between years there have been restrictions to what’s allowed to be imported or produced but the solid stop hard date is 2020.

Conclusion

In conclusion folks R-22 was banned from the US due to the damage that it caused to the Ozone layer when the refrigerant was vented into the atmosphere. The Chlorine within this HCFC refrigerant is what did the damage. Today’s refrigerants like HFC refrigerants do not contain Chlorine and thusly no longer do any damage to the Ozone.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

A lot of the times when your air conditioner goes out the most expensive part of the repair is recharging your system with refrigerant. Sometimes this bill can be a couple hundred dollars and other times closer to-five hundred. With this high priced bill facing them a consumer sometimes considers purchasing the product on their own.

The term Freon is used commonly across the country as a generic term for refrigerant. What you may not know is that Freon and refrigerant aren’t exactly the same and they are not interchangeable. Instead, the word Freon is a brand name of refrigerant. Let’s think of it this way. “I’m going to go purchase a car.” Now, let me say that a different way, “I’m going to purchase a Ford.” Just as Ford is a brand of car the term Freon is a brand of refrigerant. Make sense now?

Now the question is can you purchase Freon? Well, first thing’s first, you need to determine what kind of refrigerant your air conditioner takes. The refrigerant type for your air conditioner will be on a label on the unit outside your home. If you are not able to find it there you can also look up your make and model number online to determine what refrigerant is needed. A lot of times in today’s world you’ll find that your air conditioner doesn’t even take Freon but instead takes a refrigerant known as Puron.

Regardless of what refrigerant it takes you are unfortunately not able to purchase it without being licensed and certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. If your air conditioner does take Freon, or R-22, then you will need to be Section 608 Clean Air Act certified with the EPA. The same can now be said if your system takes R-410A or Puron. In the past, prior to 2018, you were able to purchase Puron and other HFC refrigerants without a license. However, new EPA regulations went into affect on January 1st, 2018 that prevented sales and handling of HFC refrigerants to non-certified people.

These regulations were put in place due to the environmental damage that HFC refrigerants like R-410A, R-404A, and R-134 cause. These refrigerants have what’s known as a high Global Warming Potential, or GWP. The higher the GWP the more damage a refrigerant can do to the climate. The aim is that by regulation the goverment can limit who can purchase and handle these high GWP refrigerants and that the amount of refrigerant gases vented into the atmosphere will be lessened.

While this law has only been effective for less then a year there is already talk from the Trump ran EPA to reverse this policy and to allow un-certified end users began to purchase HFC refrigerants again. This is all still preliminary but if this regulation does get rescinded then you will be able to purchase HFC refrigerants like Puron again without any license required.

If you do find that your system takes R-22 Freon refrigerant then you are out of luck. R-22 is an HCFC refrigerant and is strictly regulated. There is no talk of rescinding this regulation as R-22 will be completely phased out by the year 2020.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

What Is It?

The term or name Freon is commonly used all over the country to describe what is inside your home or vehicle’s air conditioner. While we have all heard of this term before many of us do not really know what Freon is, where it comes from, or how it works. First, let me explain that the term Freon refers to the refrigerant that is inside your air conditioner. Freon and refrigerant though are not inter-changeable. In fact, the name Freon is a brand of refrigerant.

Confused yet? Well, let’s put it this way. When you want a soda you may either say, ‘I want a soda,’ or you may say, ‘I want a Coke.’ There are two distinct differences here. The term soda is a generic name for various types of cola. The name Coke is referring to a specific brand of soda called Coca-Cola. The same logic can be applied to the term Freon and refrigerant.

The reason the Freon brand is so commonly used and referred to in today’s world is that the Freon brand was the first mainstream refrigerant that was used across the world. The Freon refrigerant was invented all the way back in the 1930’s through a partnership with the DuPont company and General Motors. Together the companies synthesized the first CFC and HCFC refrigerants known as R-12 and R-22. These new classes of refrigerants were trademarked by DuPont under the brand name Freon.

The moment these new refrigerants were invented they began to take off in popularity. That was because they checked all of the boxes of what the world was looking for in a refrigerant. Past refrigerants such as Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, and Hydrocarbons all had their own problems associated with them. They were either dangerous to operate due to their toxicity, they operated at too high of pressures and caused constant failures, or the refrigerant was just too expensive to use in mass. The Freon branded refrigerants changed all of this and put refrigeration and air conditioning within reach of the common man.

The Fall of Freon

Fast forwarding nearly fifty years into the future into the 1980’s and Freon appliances can be found all across the globe. Air conditioning is found in all of the newest homes and refrigerators/freezers are everywhere. It was around this same time that a team of scientists discovered that there was a hole forming in what’s known as the Ozone layer. This Ozone layer protects us from ultraviolet radiation, without it skin damage and cancers would begin to skyrocket. After some research it was discovered that the primary cause of this hole was the releasing or venting of gases into the atmosphere that contain Chlorine.

Freon refrigerants such as R-12 and R-22 were under the CFC and HCFC classifications. Each of these classifications contained Chlorine. So, with the rise and popularity of refrigeration and air conditioning growing so did the problem with the Ozone layer. In an effort to fix the damage and prevent any further destruction form occurring a group of countries gathered together in Montreal and signed a treaty known as the Montreal Protocol. This treaty aimed at phasing down CFC and HCFC refrigerants and replacing them with either HFC refrigerants, Hydrocarbon refrigerants, or Natural Refrigerants. The Chlorine refrigerants had to go.

The first to be removed was the CFC R-12. R-12 was found in various applications but the most impactful was the vehicle air conditioning sector. After 1992 all vehicles had to switch away from R-12 and over to the new HFC refrigerant known as R-134a. This was the first real test of phasing down refrigerants. As the years rolled by more and more CFCs and eventually HCFC refrigerants were phased down and eventually phased out entirely. Some of these include R-11, R-502, and R-22. That last one, R-22 is a big one as well. R-22 was found in nearly every home and commercial air conditioning unit in the world. Here in America the phase down began in 2010 and will finish in 2020. Like with most phase downs it is a gradual staggered approach.

Conclusion

While the term Freon is still used all over the place today the fact of the matter is that actual Freon using systems are nearly gone. Sure, there are still some antiques out there and there are still some older R-22 machines still chugging along but as each year passes these machines age and age. After a certain amount of time they will have to be retired and then the world will have no more Freon containing systems.

But, don’t worry folks, I’m sure the name Freon will still be around for decades to come. It is one of those brand names that has just stuck in everyone’s head. However, if you are talking to an HVAC technician and you wanted to be correct in your refrigerant name then you should check your air conditioner. If it says that your unit takes R-22 refrigerant then you can get away with calling it Freon. If you find that your system is using the HFC R-410A refrigerant then the brand name for this product is actually Puron.

Either way, if you say Freon most people are going to know what you’re talking about even if it isn’t one-hundred percent correct.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ