HFO

How Much Does It Cost?

The term Freon is used all over the country to describe the refrigerant that is used in their home, commercial, or vehicle air conditioner. Even though it is used by man the term Freon is actually antiquated and is very rarely used within the HVAC industry. Chances are your air conditioner that you are using right now doesn’t contain Freon.

In fact, the word Freon is actually a brand name from the DuPont, now Chemours, refrigerant company. Yes, that’s right. Freon is just like Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Freon is a brand of refrigerant. There are many brands of refrigerant out there today but the reason we associate Freon with everyone is that Freon was the first mainstream refrigerant that can be traced all the way back to the 1930’s. At that time DuPont and General Motors teamed up together to form R-12 and R-22 refrigerants. These new refrigerants were the first mass produced and widely used refrigerant and air conditioning technologies in the world. DuPont branded these new refrigerants under their trademarked brand name, ‘Freon.’ The Freon refrigerants exploded in popularity and just a few decades later they could be found in nearly every home and office across the country.

All of this changed in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when a team of scientists discovered that these Freon refrigerants contained Chlorine and Chlorine was leaking into the atmosphere and damaging the Ozone layer. Realizing this, hundreds of countries signed what’s known as the Montreal Protocol. This protocol phased out CFC and HCFC refrigerants across the globe. Included in these phased out refrigerants were DuPont’s ever popular ‘Freon’ brand name.

So, What Kind of Refrigerant Do I Need?

Ok, so the old Freon refrigerants are nearly gone nowadays. Yes, there are still some R-22 units out there and some people still need them but R-22 machines were phased out in 2010 so that means at their youngest an R-22 unit is already nine years old. They are quickly approaching the end of their life. The term Freon will be going away with it. So, now the question is what kind of refrigerant do you need? Let’s take a look:

Automotive Application – Nowadays nearly every vehicle is using R-134a refrigerant for their vehicles. In recent years a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf is being used on newer models. If you car is a few years old you will need to check if it takes 1234yf or not. Otherwise you are fairly safe to assume that your car is taking R-134a.

Home or Commercial Air Conditioner – These ones can be a little tricky. Depending on when you got your unit you most likely either have an R-22 unit or a R-410A unit. As I said before R-22 was phased out in 2010 for new units. R-410A has been around since 2010 but it’s popularity didn’t really take off until the 2010 deadline hit for R-22.

Refrigerators and Freezers (Home and Commercial) – The go to refrigerant for these applications has been R-404A. There are some other alternatives out there such as CO2 (R-744), R-502, and some other new HFO refrigerants coming out soon.

Conclusion

I hope that this article was able to answer your questions on refrigerant pricing and to also open your eyes on the wide variety there is within the refrigerant industry. There are two things that I want you take from this post. The first is the relative price per pound of the refrigerant you need and the second is the understanding that your contractor needs to make money too. Sure, you might know his price but you should not haggle down to zero. You should negotiate to a fair price that allows profit but also prevents gouging.

Lastly, if you are unsure what type of refrigerant your system needs please check the label/sticker on the machine. Normally it will state the refrigerant that it takes. However, if you still can’t find it then you can either contact the manufacturer or you can call a HVAC professional out to take a look. This is never something that you want to guess at.

Thanks for reading and visiting my site,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How Much Does It Cost?

Most people couldn’t care less about the pricing of refrigerant. I’m sure you didn’t care at all until your air conditioner broke down. Now you have a contractor at your home or office looking over the damage, or perhaps you have already received a quote from them and you are a little surprised by how much they are charging for refrigerant. Whatever your reason is for reading this article we are going to do our best to answer your question and to give you a fair estimate on what the going price per pound on some of the most common refrigerants on the market place today.

First and foremost, let me first explain that there are hundreds of different types of refrigerants out there. No two refrigerants are the same or work the same either. The air conditioner that you are using is designed specifically for a certain refrigerant and no others. The science of refrigeration and air conditioning all boils down to basic chemistry and understanding when a refrigerant changes states either from gas to liquid or liquid to gas. Each machine is designed to accomdate that refrigernat’s specific saturation point. If you were to add the wrong refrigerant to your air conditioner you could damage or even destroy the system. You wouldn’t put diesel into a gasoline sedan would you? The same principle applies.

In this article we are going to go over some of the most popular refrigerants out there today, their applications, and where they can be found. It will be up to you to determine exactly what refrigerant you need for your repairs.

So, What Kind of Refrigerant Do I Need?

As we mentioned above, there are hundreds of varying kinds of refrigerants out there. A lot of times this can be overwhelming and confusing to a laymen as to what kind of refrigerant they need. The good news here is that for most applications there are only a select few refrigerants that are used here in the United States. In this section below we are going to highlight the most commonly used refrigerants, what their applications are, and what their price per pound is. The price per pound section will have a link to the exact price per pound on that refrigerant.

Let’s dive in and take a look:

  • Automotive Application – Nowadays nearly every vehicle is using R-134a refrigerant for their vehicles. In recent years a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf is being used on newer models. If you car is a few years old or brand new then you will need to check if it takes 1234yf or not. Otherwise you are fairly safe to assume that your car is taking R-134a. For those of you who are into restoring classic cars you’ll find that you may end up needing R-12 Freon.
  • Home or Commercial Air Conditioner – These ones can be a little tricky. Depending on when you got your unit you most likely either have an R-22 unit or a R-410A unit. As I said in previous articles, R-22 was phased out in 2010 for new air conditioners. R-410A has been around since 2000, but it’s popularity didn’t really take off until the 2010 deadline hit for R-22. When it comes to cost though you better hope you have a R-410A unit rather than R-22. The difference in price between the two refrigerants is astonishing.
  • Refrigerators and Freezers (Home and Commercial) – The go to refrigerant for these applications has been R-404A. There are some other alternatives out there such as CO2 (R-744), R-502, and some other new HFO refrigerants coming out soon but today if you were having to recharge one of these you are most likely going to run into 404A.

Conclusion

I hope that this article was able to answer your questions on refrigerant pricing and to also open your eyes on the wide variety there is within the refrigerant industry. There are two things that I want you take from this post. The first is the relative price per pound of the refrigerant you need and the second is the understanding that your contractor needs to make money too. Sure, you might know his price but you should not haggle down to zero. You should negotiate to a fair price that allows profit but also prevents gouging.

Lastly, if you are unsure what type of refrigerant your system needs please check the label/sticker on the machine. Normally it will state the refrigerant that it takes. However, if you still can’t find it then you can either contact the manufacturer or you can call a HVAC professional out to take a look. This is never something that you want to guess at.

Thanks for reading and visiting my site,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

How Much Does It Cost?

Hello folks and welcome to RefrigerantHQ. As I write this article today Halloween has just passed and the weather has already begun to get cold. We’re expecting snow in just a few days here in Kansas City. All of this is happening outside and here I am sitting at my desk, sipping on some hot cocoa, and thinking about refrigerant. Yes, I know that sounds rather odd… but that is what we do here at RefrigerantHQ. Refrigerant all the time. Today I am thinking about R-1234yf. What can we expect from it next year? What will consumers be paying for it?

Over the past few years here at RefrigerantHQ we have taken the time to write what’s known as our ‘Price Per Pound’ articles. These articles break down the cost of refrigerant so any laymen can understand it. It takes away that hidden cost and brings it out into the light. The goal of these articles is to arm the homeowner or business owner with enough knowledge so that when they receive a quote for R-1234yf they know where the price should be. This prevents people from being gouged and overcharged, especially during the dead heat of summer.

Now before we go any further into this post I first want to give you a warning that I can be rather long winded. All of this information is good and relevant to your situation, BUT if you are just looking for a basic price per pound price then I suggest you just scroll on down to our ‘Price Per Pound’ section. However, if you’re looking to learn a bit more about your air conditioner then by all means keep reading.

Know This Before Purchasing

Purchasing refrigerant from your contractor isn’t always black and white. There are different factors that need to be considered before you purchase. In this section we are going to take a look at each of these:

You Are Paying For Expertise

Ok folks, so the information that I am going to give you in our ‘Price Per Pound’ section is very nearly, if not exactly, the cost that your technician is paying for their R-1234yf refrigerant. What that means is that you can expect a markup. After all, the technician and the dealership need to make money as well. This is a specialized trade and requires trained expertise in order to succeed in. Thinking that you can do this yourself is never a good idea as there are a lot of intricacies that need to be accounted for. As an example, let’s go through and ask a few simple questions that a technician would either have to do or consider:

  • Do you know how to flush your system?
  • Do you know what refrigerants can be vented?
  • Are you 609 certified with the EPA to handle HFO refrigerants?
  • Do you know how to find, let alone fix, a refrigerant leak?

All of these questions and more are what you are paying your technician for. Remember that they need to make money too, but there is also a fine line between having profit and gouging. Reading this article, and reviewing the price per pound, will allow you to be educated and give you the power to negotiate the price of refrigerant.

Your AC Unit is a Closed System

Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System
Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System

Even before you bring your car into the dealership to look at the air conditioner you should be aware that air conditioners are what’s known as closed systems. What that means is that the refrigerant in your air conditioner moves back and forth between different cycles and it, in theory, never runs out or needs refrigerant refilled.

If you find that your unit is low on refrigerant or is completely out do NOT just refill your machine with a new refrigerant. I repeat do NOT do this. Your system does not need a top off. It does not need just a little bit more refrigerant to get by. No. If you are running out of refrigerant that means that somewhere in the refrigerant cycle there is a leak. Your unit is leaking refrigerant and will continue to leak refrigerant until a repair is made. If you dump more refrigerant into it without fixing the leak you are literally throwing money down the drain.

I like to think of it as a above ground pool. If you get a puncture in the pool lining water will leak out. Sure you can always add more water but it’s not fixing the problem. Adding more refrigerant doesn’t fix the problem either. It’s just prolong the inevitable and wasting money.

R-1234yf Price Per Pound

Ok, now we are ready to take a look at the price per pound of 1234yf. First, let me paint a picture for you. Let’s say the air conditioner on your new vehicle went out and you just went past the warranty period. What can you expect repair wise? Well, you will need to repair and replace the part that failed but you will also most likely need to have the refrigerant recharged for your vehicle. But, what price should you pay?

I could tell you the price today, which I will in a bit, but I will also give you kind of a cheat sheet that I like to use when gauging the R-1234yf market price. It’s so simple. All I do is just go to Ebay.com and search for R-1234yf cylinders.  By doing this I can see what the going rate is per pound of R-1234yf. As I write this article today I can see that R-1234yf is priced between six-hundred and seventy to seven-hundred dollars a  ten pound cylinder. Now, let’s do some simple math to get your price per pound. Let’s take the higher amount of seven -hundred just to be safe.

$700 / 10lb cylinder = $70.00 per pound.

There you have it folks, $70.00 for one pound of R-1234yf refrigerant. Some of you may be having sticker shock right now, and yes I agree. It is a very high price especially when compared to R-134a. But, that’s just the way it is unfortunately. Now, please keep in mind that these prices CAN change. To give you a bit more help I have also included a feed from our Ebay partner below that shows you the current market price of R-1234yf:

HFO-1234YF Automotive Refrigerant YF 10 pound cylinder (424-418)

$660.00
End Date: Wednesday Dec-12-2018 9:16:20 PST
Buy It Now for only: $660.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Honeywell HFO-1234YF Refrigerant 10 lb Cylinder NEW, Sealed, Ships UPS ground

$665.00
End Date: Sunday Nov-25-2018 8:55:20 PST
Buy It Now for only: $665.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Now each car is different and the amount of refrigerant that they need can be different as well. Some only require one pound and others upwards of eight to nine pounds. It is always best to check your owner’s manual or your dealership to see how much you need. In our example we’re going to call it three pounds of refrigerant to get a complete fill up of your vehicle.

3 pounds of refrigerant * $70.00 per pound = $210.00 for a complete fill up.

Conclusion

There you have it folks, that is the true cost per pound of R-1234yf refrigerant. I have said it already in the beginning of this article but I want to emphasize again that you may not pay the price we mentioned above due to your dealership’s markup. They deserve to make money as well and they deserve to be paid for their expertise. Just keep this article in the back of your mind so that when you do receive a quote you can ensure that you are receiving an accurate and fair price.

If you do find that you are being gouged and the dealership won’t budge then you may be able to run by a local auto-parts store to see if they have any yf cans in stock. If they do, then you could save some money by providing the refrigerant to the dealership.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

EU Phasing out HFC

Over the last few years the European Union has experienced a rash of illegal refrigerants, refrigerant thefts, smuggling, and counterfeit refrigerants. Most of the time the refrigerants affected were R-22 or HFCs such as R-134a or R-404A. This time though things are a bit different.

Last month Honeywell worked directly with the Czech Republic’s Customs Office to seize a 1234yf shipment. As most of you know, Honeywell has a patent on 1234yf manufacturing. That means they are the only ones who can manufacture this refrigerant. (Chemours can as well, but that is because they are partnered with Honeywell.)  Besides these two companies no one else is able to legally manufacture 1234yf. That doesn’t stop everyone though, especially rogue companies found in China. Yes, this product that was seized came directly from China. Along with seizing the product Honeywell also took the step to file a suit against a Czech Republic refrigerant distribution company for attempting to distribute illegal product.

Earlier in the same month Honeywell did something similar to a Chinese manufacturer and distributor in Germany. And a few years back Honeywell partnered with the government out of Shanghai to sentence a man convicted of producing counterfeit 1234yf refrigerant. The man who was sentenced served nine months in jail and also paid a hefty fine for the violation.

Causation

All of the above cases were done to protect Honeywell’s monopoly on the 1234yf refrigerant. Some of you may not like that word monopoly, but that is what it is. Honeywell not only invented and patented this refrigerant but they also pushed and lobbied to have it adopted in every new vehicle across the globe. As the years go by Honeywell’s slice of the automotive refrigerant market gets larger and larger as R-134a applications begin to retire.

In Europe it has already happened. As of 2015 no newly manufactured vehicles can use R-134a. That leaves vehicle manufacturers with one of two options. They either use 1234yf or they use the experimental R-744 applications like what Daimler is doing. Most companies opt for 1234yf as it is the easier choice.

Since Europe started this conversion a few years ago it is only fair to have the first waves of counterfeit product arrive there. The price per pound on yf is quite expensive. Here in the United States it is about sixty-five dollars a pound. If we compare that to R-134a’s price per pound of three dollars we can begin to see why counterfeiting has begun. Now, I don’t know the markets over in the European Union, but I imagine yf is just as high if not higher over there. It is only natural for counterfeit product to show up.

Conclusion

There is only one real way I can see this counterfeiting to stop. Sure, Honeywell can keep playing whack-a-mole with these Chinese counterfeiters but it is not addressing the root of the problem. A counterfeit market typically exists because the price point is too high or the availability of the product is too low. By Honeywell addressing these concerns they could very well stop the counterfeit market in it’s tracks. But, that also means that Honeywell may have to lower price on their prized 1234yf refrigerant.

Over here on the Americas’ side I do not believe we’ve seen this problem yet on 1234yf. Yes, we’ve had our share of counterfeit products but that is still mostly HFCs and R-22. As the market for yf grows here we may very well have the same problems the EU is having. Remember, that when purchasing refrigerants to always ensure you are buying from a reputable supplier.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

R-134yf

By now we all know that R-134a is on it’s way out. It has already been phased out on new vehicles in the European Union for years now. While there was a planned phase out date here in the United States of 2020 (2021 Model Year) by the EPA, it was overturned earlier this year by a federal court. The phase out is still coming though and some States (California and New York) have already announced they will mandate the 2020 deadline even if the EPA does not.

The problem we now have though is the price of 1234yf. Originally, we heard from the manufacturers that the price was so high due to development time and lack of resources to manufacture the product. But now, years have passed and fully functioning manufacturing plants have been opened. Honeywell opened one up in Louisiana and Chemours broke ground on theirs over a year and a half ago in Texas. That isn’t even mentioning the plants in China.

We would think that the price would begin to come down but here we are in 2018 and we are still looking at around seventy dollars a pound wholesale. That is NOT even mentioning the cost to the end user. If we check on E-bay or Amazon we’ll find cans of 1234yf selling for forty or fifty dollars per eight ounces. Let’s look at R-134a pricing now. If we go to Amazon.com we can buy three twelve ounce cans for less then twenty dollars.

Now let’s really do some math. Most cars take anywhere from two to three pounds of refrigerant. Let’s say, for whatever reason, our compressor has cracked and we have lost all refrigerant in the system. We need a new compressor and a complete recharge. Let’s look at the two different refrigerants and what the predicted cost would be to repair at a dealership.

R-134a

For argument’s sake let’s call a new A/C compressor around two-hundred dollars. So, we have the new compressor and the two pounds of refrigerant to fill up. Using the R-134a price we mentioned above we can figure out what the approximate resale price would be. If we break down that twenty dollar price on Amazon by can, then by ounce, and then multiply the ounce price by sixteen ounces we get the price per pound. In this case the price we get is just shy of nine dollars per pound.

So, for this repair we would be looking at:

  • $200 for a compressor
  • $18 for two pounds of R-134a refrigerant
  • $100 for labor.
  • $318 for your grand total to get your AC running again.

R-134yf

Now, going through the same scenario that we laid out above, let’s do the math with the 1234yf refrigerant. The A/C compressor will still be two-hundred dollars. The price we mentioned earlier on 1234yf was around forty-five dollars per eight ounces. Let’s take that number times two to get our per pound price of ninety dollars. Now let’s figure the repair bill:

  • $200 for a compressor
  • $180 for two pounds of 1234yf refrigerant
  • $100 for labor.
  • $480 for the grand total of the repair.

Difference

Obviously, there is a large disparity in price here between the two refrigerants. So large in fact, that 1234yf is ten times the price of R-134a. In this example the customer is paying one-hundred and sixty-two dollars more to repair their air conditioning system and that is assuming that the dealership won’t mark up 1234yf at a higher percentage then they do R-134a.

This difference is causing a lot of gripe and complaints here in the United States. Over in the European Union it isn’t as big of a problem as the price of R-134a has gone up to extreme levels due to the mandatory phase down and phase out of the HFC refrigerant. So, the price disparity between the two refrigerants isn’t as dramatic.

In the US though things are different. Consumers have been paying dirt cheap refrigerant prices for decades now and they are used to it. The moment someone gets one of these high priced repair bills on a faulty yf system they are going to be in for a shock. I can’t even imagine what will happen when refilling a larger vehicle like a semi-truck. I believe this cost difference is what is causing some users to ‘retrofit’ their yf systems back over to R-134a.

Yes, you heard me right. There are quote a few people doing this today. In fact, I found a video about a month ago that gave viewers a ‘How To Guide’ on switching yf over to R-134a. The video has since been taken down (Smart of the creator), but my article can be found by clicking here. This conversion is not only risky to your car and it’s air conditioning components but it is also against the law.

Yes, that’s right folks. This isn’t just about the environment. If you convert your vehicle over like what was done in this video then you are actively breaking Federal Law under Section 203 of the Clean Air Act. What was done in this video is known as ‘tampering’ with a vehicle’s emissions’ control device.

“According to MACSWorldWide.com, ‘Any person other than a manufacturer or dealer who violates the tampering prohibition is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,500 per violation.'”

Conclusion

If the price doesn’t come down on yf then I can foresee a lot of these do-it-yourself conversions or retrofits back over to R-134a. While this is illegal, the risk of doing it is so minimal that I can see a lot of folks doing it already today. Heck, there are even conversion port adapters out there so that you can charge R-134a in your yf ports.

The only way I can see this getting better is if the price on yf begins to drop and drop significantly. I just don’t see this happening though as the price and market on yf is controlled by two companies: Honeywell and Chemours. They have a monopoly on this refrigerant and I do not see them giving up their cash cow, especially when it’s just starting to get good as more and more vehicle manufacturers are beginning to switch over to yf.

The other option is if yf price doesn’t go down then the price of R-134a will need to go up, and up dramatically. Maybe, once we get closer to the 2020 deadline and more States phase out 134a we will begin to see the price rise enough to make yf look more attractive. For now, it seems we are stuck with the high price of 1234yf refrigerant.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Hello everyone! I hope your Labor Day is going well. We just got back from our city’s parade and I’ve got a few hours before our barbecue so I thought I’d take some time and get an article out there. I’m going to preface this article with the disclaimer that this is an opinion piece. Take it how you want, but it has been on my mind over the past year or so.

As we all know refrigerants have been phased out or phased down for decades. We started it way back in the early 1990’s with R-12 and other CFCs. Then we focused on HCFCs and now the world is looking at HFCs. With CFCs and HCFCs the goal of the phase out was to stop using Ozone damaging refrigerants. These refrigerants contained Chlorine which did not break down in the atmosphere and ended up harming the Ozone layer.

HFCs were the replacement for these Ozone damaging refrigerants. HFCs did not contain Chlorine and did not harm the Ozone layer. They were also non-flammable and non-toxic. Yes, I am aware there are always exceptions out there, but the most commonly used HFC refrigerants were non-flammable and non-toxic. These HFCs seemed to be the perfect substitute for HFCs and HCFCs.

Fast forward to the present and the world is now looking to phase down or phase out HFC refrigerants across the globe. This time though instead of them damaging the Ozone these refrigerants are contributing to Global Warming. Refrigerants are measured on a scale known as Global Warming Potential, or GWP. The zero scale for GWP is Carbon Dioxide (R-744) with a GWP of one. Popular HFC refrigerants, such as R-134a, have GWP as high as one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. There is an obvious problem here and the continued use of HFC refrigerants will speed up Global Warming. The question now though is what alternatives are out there?

Natural Refrigerants

For a lot of companies and countries the answer has been Hydrocarbons such as R-717 and R-290. These natural refrigerants have a very low Global Warming Potential and they do not deplete the Ozone layer. In fact, R-717 is widely seen as one of the most efficient refrigerants out there. Both of these refrigerants are great for the environment. The downside though is that these refrigerants can be dangerous.

Yes, just like with anything, if the refrigerants and machines are handled correctly and maintained properly then there is little chance of problems, but the chance still persists nonetheless. Let’s look at R-717, or Ammonia, as an example. Ammonia is a great refrigerant but it is toxic if inhaled. In today’s world it is mostly used industrial refrigeration such as meat packing plants and in ice rinks. When a leak does happen it can be deadly. Notice, how I said when? Ammonia leaks occur quite frequently across the Americas. There was a particularly bad one around one year ago in Canada that ended up fatally harming three workers. (Source) When an Ammonia leak occurs an evacuation has to occur. Depending on the size of the leak the evacuation could be a couple of blocks surrounding the facility. It can be that dangerous.

The alternative for Ammonia based systems was R-22. In the 1980’s and 1990’s companies could pick between these two refrigerants for their plants. (Yes, there were more, but I believe these were the main players.) The choice for R-22 is now gone due to the phase outs. Depending on the application, some were using R-134a as an alternative to Ammonia. But now, that too, is being phased out. While R-22 and R-134a were damaging the Climate they were safe. If a leak occurred it wasn’t the end of the world.

Now with the shrinking list of alternative refrigerants more and more companies are leaning towards Ammonia. Yes, there are new HFC and HFO alternatives being developed by Chemours and Honeywell but these have not been perfected yet. You may get one that has a low GWP but has a higher flammability rating. Or, you may get one that still has a somewhat high GWP and it just wouldn’t make sense to base a new machine off of a refrigerant that is only going to be around for a few years.

R-290, or Propane, has a similar story. While yes, it’s not near as deadly as Ammonia, it still has it’s risks. Instead of toxicity being a problem we now have to deal with flammability and flame propagation. If an inexperienced technician attempts to work on an R-290 unit and is not sure what they are doing they could end up igniting the refrigerant. (The worst is the guys who smoke when working on a unit.)

Now picture this, what if we start using R-290 in home based air conditioners? It doesn’t even have to be a split system, it could be a mini-split or even a window or portable unit. Let’s say Mr. Homeowner, who has no idea what he’s doing, decides to tamper with the unit because it’s not blowing cold air. Maybe he thinks it just needs ‘more Freon.’ If the unit was using Puron then the homeowner would recharge, waste his money, and think he did some good. However, if the unit contained R-290 the results could be far worse.

HFOs and Alternative HFCs

In my opinion, HFOs are much safer then Hydrocarbons, but there is still that safety risk out there. Let’s look at everyone’s favorite HFO target, 1234yf. Now, I know this horse has been beaten to death, but I’m going to bring it up one more time. YF is rated as an A2L from ASHRAE. That 2L means that YF is flammable and has a chance to ignite. What kills me here is that there was such a push to get YF rolled out to new vehicles that instead of rating it as a standard A2 refrigerant they instead created a whole new flammability called 2L. (Lower Flammability.) So, they’re admitting to it being flammable, but only slightly.

The whole controversy on YF started years ago when the European Union was looking for a suitable alternative to R-134a. There were hundreds of tests conducted across Europe and the World to view the viability of 1234yf. In one of these tests the Daimler company out of Germany found that after the vehicle suffered an impact and the compressor cracked open the HFO YF refrigerant ignited when it was exposed to the hot engine. (For more on this check out our YF fact sheet by clicking here. The video of the ignition is at the bottom.)

Needless to say, this test result shocked Daimler and they published their findings to the world. The other companies and countries stated that Daimler’s test could not be reproduced and that it was a non-issue. The world moved forward with the somewhat dangerous 1234yf. Daimler, being the innovators they are, decided to instead move forward with a completely different automotive refrigerant, R-744.

While 1234yf is by far one of the most popular HFC alternatives on the marketplace today there are others that have similar problems. One that comes to mind right away is R-32. R-32 is an HFC refrigerant that is beginning to see more popularity for it’s usage in home and commercial air conditioners. R-32 is an alternative to the standard R-410A that is found in most home units. The goal of R-32 was to reduce the GWP number when compared to R-410A. 410A has a GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight while R-32 has a GWP of six-hundred and seventy-five. This is a significant reduction, but the GWP is still quite high when comparing to Hydrocarbons or HFOs. Another very important point is that R-32 is rated as an A2 refrigerant. There’s that 2 again. 2 means flammable except with this one we don’t even get the L for lightly flammable.

So again, I’m going to illustrate the similar scenario we mentioned above. Picture a homeowner, who doesn’t know what they are doing, trying to either retrofit his existing R-22 over to R-32 or perhaps he just wants to recharge his R-32 machine. Without the proper training and knowledge this can end in disaster.

Conclusion

So, now here we are sacrificing technician and public safety for the betterment of the Climate and environment. I understand that Global Warming is a crisis and that it needs to be dealt with, but is it really worth increasing possible risk and danger of everyday workers and people? It appears that in everyone’s haste to move away from HFC refrigerants and to save the environment the thought of safety has taken a backseat.

I mean, if we wanted to get really aggressive in the fight against climate change why not start using Ammonia in nearly every application? After all, it has a GWP of zero and is extremely energy efficient. (I’m being sarcastic here, if you couldn’t tell!)

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134yf

A reader reached out to me today and told me that I had to watch a YouTube video. I pulled it up not really knowing what to expect. It definitely surprised me. The video is a do-it-yourself guide on how to convert your vehicle’s R-1234yf system over to R-134a. Yes, you read that right. I didn’t have that backwards. We have end users actively converting HFO systems back over to HFCs. I am sure most of us knew this would be happening on one off bases here and there but I didn’t expect to see a full do-it-yourself guide for everyone to watch and learn.

As most of you know, I began my career in the heavy-duty diesel industry. I remember back in 2007 when a new regulation went into effect for our trucks. All new vehicles were to be equipped with a Diesel Particulate Filter, or a DPF. Along with that you had a new fluid to add to your vehicle every so often called Diesel Exhaust Fluid. The point of this was to reduce the pollutants of semi-trucks that move all over the country’s roads. (After all, trucking is the life blood of the country.) While most fleets adapted to the change without issue there were guys out there, mainly owner-operators, that decided they didn’t like the DPF on their new truck. These guys came up with their own work-around that completely bypassed the particulate filter. It wasn’t legal, it wasn’t right, and it caused a ton of damage to the vehicle. But hey, they got their work around and got to do it ‘their,’ way.

We’re seeing a very similar thing here. People assume that R-1234yf and R-134a can be interchangeable. Yes, the pressures between the two refrigerants are very close to each other, but they are NOT exact. Click here to see a pressure comparison chart, courtesy of Lexissecurities.com. (Third page down) As you can see, the two refrigerants meet at thirty degrees Celsius, but after that they differ. Like with any air conditioning equipment the parts on your 1234yf vehicle are specifically manufactured to take 1234yf and no other refrigerants. Contaminating your system with a foreign refrigerant will at best case shorten the life of your compressor and other components. At worst, it will permanently damage your system causing an entire replacement.

When watching this video you’ll notice that he had to get a specific adapter just so he could insert the R-134a refrigerant into the system. This should have been a red flag. There is a reason why there are two different fittings between R-1234yf and R-134a. It is to prevent accidental contamination. I’m not sure why these adapters exist, but there must be a market for them or else they wouldn’t be found in auto parts stores or online. On the upside here, in this video the narrator did go through the trouble of vacuuming out the remaining R-134a from his system. So, we don’t have a contamination of mixed refrigerants… we just have all of the wrong refrigerant.

The video in question can be found below:

The Why?

Now there is one main reason for someone to do this: Money. Yes, it’s all about money and savings folks. R-1234yf is not easily found in stores at this time. Yes, it is available at online sites like Amazon.com and also through certain auto-parts stores but it is hit and miss. While the availability is a problem it is not the main gripe from end-users. R-1234yf is significantly higher in price then it’s predecessor R-134a. Let’s do a comparison real quick just to show the price difference. We’ll use Amazon.com as a point of reference just to make things easy:

  • R-134a: Three twelve ounce cans are for sale right now at $19.95. (Price can change at any time.) Let’s do some math now and break this down by price per ounce. $19.95 / 36 ounces = $00.55 per ounce for R-134a.
  • R-1234yf: Four eight ounce cans are for sale right now at $168.99. (Price can change at any time.) Let’s do some math now and break this down by price per ounce. $168.99 / 32 ounces = $5.28 per ounce for R-1234yf.
  • That is an eight-hundred and sixty percent increase in price between the two refrigerants.

Now, we can begin to see the end-users’ reasoning here. That is one hell of a price increase. Now if we couple that with the fact that not many stores handle 1234yf we find that most car owners end up having to go to the dealership for air conditioning repairs. I can only imagine the mark-up on 1234yf. Ok so, we understand the end-users reasoning but now we need to look at the consequences of converting a system over to R-134a.

Consequences

As with any action there are always consequences. In the case of this moving a vehicle from 1234yf over to 134a we have two distinct consequences:

The first is that by doing this switch you are actively harming the environment. The point of 1234yf is to reduce the overall Global Warming Potential (GWP) of vehicles and the refrigerants that they use. R-134 has a GWP of fourteen-hundred and thirty times that of Carbon Dioxide. Inversely, R-1234yf has a GWP number of four times that of Carbon Dioxide. Beginning to see the difference here? If you switch your unit back to 134a you are actively harming the environment.

The second reason, and the one that will most likely get everyone’s attention, is the Federal Government. Yes, that’s right folks. This isn’t just about the environment. If you convert your vehicle over like what was done in this video you are actively breaking Federal Law under Section 203 of the Clean Air Act. What was done in this video is known as ‘tampering,’ with a vehicle’s emissions control device.

According to MACSWorldWide.com, “Any person other than a manufacturer or dealer who violates the tampering prohibition is subject to a civil penalty of not more than $2,500 per violation.” 

That is quite the fine and if you get caught doing this that extra mark-up at the dealership might not seem so bad. Also, see the below excerpt from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. Trust me in saying this folks, the Federal Government does not fool around with this stuff. Ask yourself is it really worth it?

Tampering. The CAA prohibits anyone from tampering with an emission control device on a motor vehicle by removing it or making it inoperable prior to or after the sale or delivery to the buyer. A vehicle’s emission control system is designed to limit emissions of harmful pollutants from vehicles or engines. EPA works with manufacturers to ensure that they design their components with tamper-proofing, addresses trade groups to educate mechanics about the importance of maintaining the emission control systems, and prosecutes cases where significant or imminent harm is occurring. – EPA.Gov Source

Conclusion

I am hoping that this isn’t the start of a trend. Remember folks, that the whole reason we’re moving away from R-134a is to reduce Greenhouse Gases and slow Global Warming. By having end-users actively retrofitting their systems back to R-134a we are defeating the entire purpose of this phase down. Now, I wasn’t really around for the whole R-12 phase out. (I was only seven in 1993.) so I don’t know if this was common place in the early stages of the R-12 phase out or not. Regardless, it needs to stop.

I’m hoping that writing this article we can grab the attention of other users out there who are thinking about doing this conversion and steer them away from the cliff. Sure, you might save a little bit of money upfront but you have to ask yourself is it really worth it in the long term? Also, maybe it’s time we get some 1234yf recharge kits out there so that we can prevent these types of retrofits in the future. If they have access to a recharge kit then maybe they will not go down the path of 134a.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

I saw this news story come across my e-mail this morning and needless to say, I was surprised. It’s not everyday you see that Chemours and Arkema partnering up with one another. In fact, in the recent past they have been fairly bitter rivals going back and forth in HFC court battles. Arkema was one of the plaintiffs in the law-suit against the Environmental Protection Agency and their proposed HFC phase outs. (Chemours was on the losing side.) This back and forth battle all had to do with the new HFO refrigerant line. Arkema was trying to delay the transition away from HFCs while Chemours was pushing ahead as fast as possible.

Over the recent years Chemours and Honeywell have been very protective of their HFO brands Opteon and Solstice. In fact, they have patents on most of their newer HFO refrigerants which prevent the other larger manufacturers like MexiChem and Arkema from manufacturing their own versions. It makes perfect sense and it’s a good business decision, but it does pose a problem of too little competition in the market. More or less, Chemours and Honeywell have a monopoly on the developing HFO refrigerant market. They control the price and the marketplace.

There was a step forward announced yesterday between Chemours and Arkema on Chemour’s Opteon XP40 refrigerant. (R-449A) The two companies both sent out a press release stating that Arkema is now a certified distributor within the European Union. (For those who don’t know Arkema is a French based company.) This step allows Chemours to enter the European Union market with their newer XP40 refrigerant at a pivotal time. Across the EU companies are looking for alternative lower GWP refrigerants to be compliant with the F-Gas Regulations and that’s not even mentioning the sky-high prices that R-404A hit in the European Union last year.

Opteon XP40 was seen as a perfect fit as it is a near drop-in replacement product for R-404A and R-507A. This also gives Arkema a viable alternative option to all of their customers. They will be able to market this Chemours product under their own Forane brand name (Forane 449A), so many customers may not even know that it is a Chemours’ product. In most cases it will be seamless, but I do have to wonder if it is a bit awkward for Arkema. After all, they are used to being a manufacturer, not a distributor.

About Arkema

When I think of refrigerant manufacturers four names pop right into my head. Chemours, Honeywell, MexiChem, and Arkema. Now, obviously, the first two Chemours and Honeywell are the biggest. I like to think of these guys as our ‘gold’ manufacturers. We see a lot of innovation and new technologies from these companies and they have plants and factories across the globe. Chemours’ revenue in 2017 was over six billion dollars. Honeywell was forty billion.

Our ‘Silver’ refrigerant manufacturers are MexiChem and Arkema. These companies are very large producers as well and have very recognizable brand names across the industry. While they are not the size of Chemours or Honeywell they are nothing to sneeze at. MexiChem’s 2017 revenue was just shy of six billion dollars. (Keep in mind that includes plastics and other manufacturing.) Arkema’s revenue from 2015 was over seven billion dollars. (Again, more products then just refrigerants.)

Arkema is a French based company headquartered just outside of Paris. They are a fairly ‘new’ company having been founded in 2004. I say ‘new’ in quotations as Arkema is as new as Chemours was. (Chemours was just an off-shoot of DuPont.) Arkema was an off-shoot of the French oil company known as Total. Total is one of the largest oil and gas companies in the world.

Arkema has three main divisions: Coating Solutions, Industrial Chemicals, and Performance Products. They are one of the world’s largest producers of fluorinated chemicals under their brand name Forane. Their refrigerants and their Forane brand name can be found across the globe and are recognizable to most folks within the industry. Forty percent of their total sales take place within the European Union. Another thirty percent take place Americas. In fact, their operation sounds very similar to a Belgian based company that I work for during the day.

What is XP40?

R-449A, or Opteon XP40, is a new HFO refrigerant blend comprised of R-32, R-125, R-1234yf, and R-134a. This refrigerant, like Honeywell’s R-407F, was designed as a replacement product for R-22, R-404A, and R-507A. The difference here is that this an HFO refrigerant rather than an HFC. The XP40 is non Ozone depleting and has a GWP number of one-thousand two-hundred and eighty-two. That’s about five-hundred less then R-22 and two-thousand six-hundred and forty less than R-404A. That is a HUGE reduction in GWP on 404A applications. XP40 is non-toxic and non-flammable so safety is not an issue either. Along with that the Opteon XP40 is actually more energy efficient then CO2.

The best thing about XP40 though is that it is designed as a more or less drop-in replacement to R-404A. What that means is very little retrofitting work for the customer and for the contractor. XP40 can be used in supermarkets (Racks, walk-in coolers/freezers), food service, cold storage, food processing, chemical processing, and even in your local ice rink. I’ve written about XP40 in the past and it’s potential applications in ice rinks.

While I don’t see XP40 sticking around forever as it still does have a GWP of over one-thousand I can safely say that it is a definite stand-by and a step in the right direction. Once we move all of the higher GWP R-404A and R-22 systems over to a lesser GWP refrigerant like XP40 we can then begin looking at future refrigerants with even less Global Warming impact.

Conclusion

As I said in the beginning of this article I was surprised to see Chemours and Arkema partner together. I’m very anxious to see how this partnership works between them. Will Arkema welcome their new role as just a refrigerant distributor? Will Chemours also go through other channels to distribute their HFO line within the European Union, or will they stay loyal to Arkema? How does Honeywell view this arrangement? This will definitely be an interesting arrangement.

Oh, and I hope you liked the featured picture for this article. I took this last year when I was in Paris for work. You can see the Eiffel back there if you look hard enough!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

For those of you who do not know, I am originally from Michigan. While I haven’t lived there for twenty or more years the state has always had a fond place in my heart. My extended family still live up there and I occasionally visit. It only makes sense for me to be a Red Wings fan. (If you couldn’t tell by the featured image!) After all, they are the only true hockey team out there…right?

Hockey, along with ice skating and curling, all depend on ice rinks. In the past ice rinks were rather isolated to colder climates due to the limits in technology but now over the years we can now find ice rinks as far south as Texas and Florida. The number of ice rinks have exploded, but what kind of refrigerants are they using today?

Depending on where you go in the world you will most likely find an ice rink using either R-717 (Ammonia) or R-22 (Freon). Here in the United States R-22 is most common and as all of you know it is being phased down and will be phased out in just over a year and a half. (2020 production/imports will stop.) The question now is what will all of these ice rink owners do if they need a repair or maintenance on their systems?

Most of the rinks out there today are older, some even as old as twenty or more years. In the past when a repair was needed they would pay for the parts and then a recharge but now with the rising price of R-22 even the smallest of repair can become a huge burden to the owner rather it be a businessman or a city. A lot of us cringe when trying to quote a homeowner for a few pounds of R-22. Now think about charging a customer for thousands of pounds of R-22. The price is just not feasible in today’s world and even if your customer could afford the recharge whose to say that they might not have a different problem months down the road and have to pay again for another recharge?

NHL & Chemours

The National Hockey League has launched a new initiate known as ‘Greener Rinks.’ The goal with this project is to provide more climate friendly ice rinks across North America. Today there are approximately forty-eight hundred rinks between the United States and Canada. The NHL’s initiative looks to tackle a variety of issues to ensure that their rinks are as climate friendly as possible. Some of these include replacing diesel run ice resurfacers with electric, replacing high intensity lights with LEDs, improvements to ice monitoring to ensure the proper thickness is met, and lastly refrigerants and refrigerant equipment.

It was announced today through a press release that the Chemours company (Formerly DuPont Refrigerants) is partnering with the National Hockey League in their Greener Rinks Initiative. This partnership isn’t just dedicated to the NHL’s arenas but instead to all aspects of hockey rather they be in community ice rinks or in large scale arenas like the Red Wings! The hope is to push these conversions and switches to all aspects of the country, not just to the big cities.

Chemours brings to the table eighty-five years of experience in the refrigerant industry. Some of you may not be as familiar with the Chemours name but I am sure you will recognize DuPont. Chemours is a split off from the original DuPont company and a lot of the same people that were at DuPont migrated over to the new Chemours Company. In fact it was often called the ‘Billion Dollar Startup.’

The goal of this partnership is to provide ice rink owners and cities the education and the possible alternatives to the expensive and dying R-22 refrigerant. When looking for alternatives business owners have a few key features that they are looking at:

  1. No Ozone depletion potential.
    1. Ozone depletion is the exact reason why we are phasing out R-22. Any replacement refrigerant would HAVE to have no Ozone depletion potential.
  2. Low Global Warming Potential or GWP.
    1. GWP is the new Ozone. In other words, now that the worry on the Ozone is gone there is a new concern about the GWP on all of these commonly used HFC refrigerants like R-404A. Any refrigerants with a high GWP are already being phased out or they are on the chopping block.
  3. Safety
    1. This is a big one as well as there are alternative refrigerants out there that may provide a great solution but may be either flammable or toxic. A great example here is R-717, or Ammonia. While R-717 is one of the most efficient refrigerants on the market it is also highly toxic and if a leak occurred things could get very messy and costly.
  4. Cost
    1. While we would all like to believe that these ice rink owners want to convert to alternative refrigerants out of the goodness of their hearts a lot of the time it’s going to boil down to cost. That’s exactly why there are so many R-22 rinks out there still today. Owners aren’t going to replace these expensive machines until they absolutely have to. Having a lower cost alternative refrigerant, especially one that can retrofit, is the perfect way to get these old units switched over to a more climate friendly refrigerant.

Chemours has committed to helping ice rink owners to finding the perfect alternative refrigerant for their needs. There are so many variables that have to be considered before selecting the proper refrigerant. How old is the equipment on sight? What safety standards are required? What performance or energy cost? I could sit here and try to go through everyone of these scenarios but it would serve you better to contact Chemours direct by clicking here. You can then be consulted by an expert who will guide you through exactly what kind of refrigerant you need.

Chemours’ Opteon XP40

One of the most popular alternative refrigerants to R-22 in ice rinks is the Opteon XP40. (R-449A) The reason for that is that older R-22 systems can be retrofitted over to accept XP40. That means significantly less cost to the business owner. I know if it was me, I would like to extend my current equipment as long as I could instead of having to pay millions for a completely new system.

R-449A, or Opteon XP40, is a new HFO refrigerant blend comprised of R-32, R-125, R-1234yf, and R-134a. This refrigerant, like Honeywell’s R-407F, was designed as a replacement product for R-22, R-404A, and R-507. The difference here is that this an HFO refrigerant rather than an HFC. HFO’s are the new lines of refrigerant being developed by Honeywell and Chemours.

The XP40 is non Ozone depleting and has a GWP number of one-thousand two-hundred and eighty-two. That’s about five-hundred less then R-22 and four-hundred less then Honeywell’s R-407F HFC. It is non-toxic and non-flammable so safety is not an issue. Along with that the Opteon XP40 is actually more energy efficient then CO2. The savings aganist CO2 is a big deal as that is one of the competing alternative refrigerants for ice rinks. While the popularity of CO2 ice rinks has not taken off yet the technology for Co2 refrigerant systems is evolving rapidly. (It has already been adapted for usages in automobiles in Germany.)

While XP40 checks most of the boxes that we mentioned earlier there is one downside that I want to point out. It’s the high GWP number. While, yes, it is lower then R-22 and other HFC refrigerants out there it is still relatively high. A high GWP number means that the refrigerant very well may be targeted for phase down or phase out.

Conclusion

Chemours’ partnership with the National Hockey League will benefit both companies greatly. Chemours will get their Opteon brand promoted across the NHL and the NHL will move closer to achieving their greener ice rinks initiative.

Converting all of the ice rinks over to climate friendly refrigerants is going to be a large endeavor. In the short term, especially as R-22 rises in price, I could see retrofits dominating the market. It is the ‘easy’ solution. Chemours is in a great position here with their XP40 product. But, as these current units age and eventually get to expensive to repair a new more permanent refrigerant solution will be needed. What will it be? Opteon? Solstice? Ammonia? Carbon Dioxide? Time will tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

Opteon and Solstice refrigerants are brand names of a new line of refrigerants known as Hydrofluoroolefins. These refrigerants are very similar to their sister classification known as Hydroflurocarbons. Much like HFCs HFO refrigerants are comprised of Hydrogen, Fluorine, and Carbon. Chemically, the only difference here between HFCs and HFOs is that HFOs are unsaturated meaning that they have at least one double bond of carbon. These double bonded molecules are known as Olefins or Alkenes. This is where the name Hydrofluroolefins comes from. While HFOs may have been around for a while there was never a demand for them. HFCs were the favored refrigerant when CFCs and HCFCs went away in the 1990’s. It was in the early 2000’s that things began to change. That was when the real push began to push out HFC refrigerants and to find viable alternatives through either Natural Refrigerants or through HFOs. The goal of HFO refrigerants is to provide an alternative refrigerant that is safe, non Ozone depleting, and with a relatively low Global Warming Potential number.

The first mainstream HFO refrigerant is known as 1234yf. This refrigerant was designed to be a replacement for the very common HFC R-134a. 134a is used in nearly every car on the road today for air-conditioning. If you’ve ever run into an HFO refrigerant before chances are it was 1234yf. With each passing year more and more cars on the road are using 1234yf instead of R-134a. In fact, R-134a is banned from use in newer models within the European Union. There is already a regulation on the books here in the United States that does the same thing for 2021 model year. (2020 year.)

As I said above the Opteon and Solstice names are brand names from the two biggest refrigerant manufacturers in the world: Honeywell and Chemours. (Chemours was formerly DuPont.) These two companies have been pouring millions of dollars into research and development to find the next biggest and greatest refrigerant to replace HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A.

Chemours & Opteon

First up is Chemours and their Opteon brand name. For those of you who do not know Chemours is a split off from the original company known as DuPont. I’m sure you’ve all heard of DuPont. Well they separated their refrigerant side of the business into a completely new company called Chemours. Chemours does not report to DuPont. They are their own entity.

As far as HFO refrigerants they are pouring a ton of money into developing new products on top of building a new state of the art plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. They broke ground on this facility earlier this year. Once completed this new manufacturing facility will triple Chemours’ output of HFO refrigerants.

Opteon refrigerant’s official page can be found by clicking here. So far there are about six HFO refrigerants added to the Opteon line. They are as follows:

Honeywell & Solstice

Just like with Chemours the Honeywell Corporation has their own private branded HFO refrigerant line known as Solstice and just like Chemours they are pouring millions into research and development as well as manufacturing power. In fact, I would say that Honeywell is a bit ahead of the game on the manufacturing side of things. Their HFO manufacturing plant opened for business earlier this year and is producing refrigerant as we speak.

Solstice refrigerant’s official page can be found by clicking here. So far there are six HFO refrigerants added to the Solstice line. They are as follows:

Conclusion

Rather you like it or not HFO refrigerants are the refrigerant of the future. HFCs are going away and in fact are already seeing a shrinking marketplace both in the European Union and here in the United States. If you haven’t seen or heard of these Solstice and Opteon brand names before I guarantee you that you will shortly.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

R-134yf

R-1234yf, or HFO-1234yf is soon to be one of the most popular refrigerants in the world. Making it’s debut in the early 2000’s it has quickly rose to power and will soon be the dominant refrigerant in the automotive industry. Today, as I write this in October of 2017 there are approximately thirty-five million cars on the road that are using 1234yf. This number will only grow as R-134a is no longer allowed on newer models in the European Union and will be banned from newer models in the United States by 2020. (2021 model year.)

With this refrigerant being in such high demand I have found very little information about it. There seemed to be a scattering and mish mash of data from various websites across the internet. My goal here with this post is to give the most comprehensive and complete guide to all of the facts, questions, and points of note on 1234yf. Let’s take a look:

The Facts

Name:HFO-1234yf
Name - Scientific:2,3,3,3 -
Tetrafluoropropene
Name (2):R-1234yf
Name (3):Opteon YF (Chemours' Brand)
Name (4):Solstice YF (Honeywell Brand)
Classification:Hydrofluroolefin
Chemistry:Carbon, Hydrogen, Fluorine with a double Carbon bond.
Chemistry (2):
Status:Active and Growing Market
Applications:Mobile Air Conditioning (Automotive) and Domestic Refrigeration
Replacement For:HFC R-134a and CFC R-12
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:4
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:2L (Mildly flammable.)
Lubricant Required:Pag Oil (Check unit for specific type.)
Boiling Point:−29°C (−22°F)
Critical Temperature:95°C (203°F)
Critical Pressure:34 bar(a)
Auto ignition Temperature:405°C (761°F)
Manufacturers:Honeywell, Chemours, and Arkema
Manufacturing Facilities:Texas, Louisiana, & China
Form:Liquefied Gas
Color:Clear
Odor:Slight
EPA Certification Required:609
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 609
Cylinder Color:White with Red Band
Cylinder Design:Fitted with left-handed valve that will be CGA 166 type.
Cylinder Design (2):Contains a pressure relief valve on the cylinder shoulder.
Price Point:Very high price when compared to R-134a.
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?Amazon.com, O'Reillys, Napa, Autozone, Dealerships
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Points of Note

Ok, so we’ve got the basic facts out of the way now on this refrigerant. Now let’s take a look at some of the more interesting points about this refrigerant.

  • As I am sure most of you know 1234yf is meant to take the place of the very popular HFC R-134a refrigerant. This has already happened in the European Union as of January 1st, 2017 and will be happening in the United States by the year 2020. (Model year 2021.) Know that those dates are the deadline though and some manufacturers are already using 1234yf on newer vehicle models.
  • R-134a and 1234yf systems are very similar to each other. In fact this was one of the reasons that 1234yf was chosen as an alternative refrigerant. A few of the major differences can be read below:
    • 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.
    • 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. You may have even noticed these on newer model 134a systems as well. There are no moving parts on this addition as it is part of the hose line.
    • The operating pressures and temperatures of 1234yf are VERY similar to that of 134a. As I said before this was done intentionally to make for an easy transition. Refer back to my fact sheet above to see the boiling temperatures.
    • 1234yf uses PAG oil just like R-134a but please note that it uses 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. Depending on who you are this could be a big deal or it couldn’t matter at all. There are two ways to look at this. Your car is already carrying gasoline in it and I can assure you that gas is far more flammable then 1234yf. On the other hand adding more flammable liquids to your car only increases your chance of fire during a collision.
  • 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. I will go into this further in our tools section further on down the page.
  • YF’s price is significantly higher than what you are used to with a R-134a cylinder. A typical thirty pound cylinder of 134a would be around one-hundred and twenty dollars. If we divide that up that’s about four dollars a pound. Conversely, the cost of a ten pound cylinder of 1234yf is around seven-hundred dollars. Let’s divide that up as well. After the math we get seventy dollars a pound. That is a sixteen-hundred and fifty percent increase in cost. There are going to be a lot of shocked people when this refrigerant begins to get popular.
  • You may not be seeing very many cars come into your shop today with YF refrigerant, especially here in the United States. There is a reason for that. Yes, there a lot of cars on the road that are using this new refrigerant but these cars are so new that most of them are falling under warranty when something goes wrong. What we are seeing today, October 2017, is a lot of dealerships doing the YF repairs. If we wait a few more years, say 2019-2020 I predict that a lot of the aftermarket shops out there will begin to see the demand for YF repairs. It just takes time folks. Hopefully by then the cost would have gone down.
  • For those of you in the distribution industry or even those of you who like to buy cylinders in bulk you should know that 1234yf is labeled as a hazardous material. You will need to follow certain restrictions if you plan on storing a significant amount of YF at your facility. I won’t go too deep into it here but if you click this link you’ll be taken to Honeywell’s website with more information on the topic. It is best to read up on this topic and also to consult with your local fire department to ensure that you are in standard.

Servicing 1234yf

Let me start this off with saying that a 1234yf system is VERY similar to an R-134a system. If you are familiar with 134a repairs then you should be just fine with YF repairs as well. That being said there are a few points that I want to make to you before we move on to the next section:

  • Just like before in order to legally work on an HFO-1234YF unit you will need to be section 609 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. If you are working at a shop then you are most likely already certified but if you are not then contact your service manager and see what steps need to be taken to get you certified. The certification is no different between R-134a and R-1234YF.
  • While a new certification is not necessary there is additional training available through SAE Spec J2845. This training will go over specific requirements and techniques when servicing either 1234yf or R-744 mobile air conditioning systems. The easiest way to acquire this training is to retake your 609 certification exam through MACS Worldwide. They have updated their test to include YF material.
  • The recovery and recycling procedures on 1234yf machines are basically identical to R-134a machines. The only differences that you will notice are:
    • When beginning to charge your system the recovery machine will do a vacuum hold test that will go for around two minutes. If the vacuum holds then we move onto the next step. If it doesn’t hold then check for leaks in your system.
    • Once we have passed the vacuum test the recovery unit will deliver a fifteen percent charge to the system. This is known as a ‘precharge,’ of the system.
    • While this is going on the tech will be prompted to start the blower motor on low, grab his leak detector, and then check the front evaporator inside the car for any leaks.
    • After giving it some time to check for leaks go back to your recovery unit and alert it if you found a leak or not. If your vehicle has a dual system then you will also need to check your rear evaporator for leaks as well.
    • If the leak detector did not trigger any leaks with the fifteen percent charge in the system then the recovery machine will go ahead and put the rest of the refrigerant back into the system.
    • After the system has been fully charged, disconnect your lines, and reseal the valves just like your normally would.
    • Some of you may be groaning at the extra steps when compared to R-134a. Well, with all things, there is a reason why these are performed. The fifteen percent precharge and leak detection step is key to catching a leak on your vehicle before it has been fully charged. If we catch the leak early while the charge is still low we can save loss of refrigerant, save your shop some cash on that refrigerant, save the customer money, and also prevent further damage to the environment. It’s a win win for all involved.

1234yf Necessary Tools

We have gone over the requirements to service 1234yf but now we need to cover what kind of tools that you will need. Like with most new technology comes new tools. Let’s take a look:

  • This first one is optional and truth be told a lot of you may not even need it as a good recovery unit should have gauges built in. But, if you want to have them as a backup or just like do things the old fashioned way then a good set of gauges will never let you down. We here at RefrigerantHQ recommend you buy the Robinair 41234 Manifold Gauge Set from our E-Bay Partner.
  • The next essential tool is a electronic refrigerant leak detector. For an HFO detector you want to make sure that it meets SAE spec J2913. Our pick here at RefrigerantHQ is INFICON’s Tek-Mate Refrigerant Leak Detector. We did a review on this detector just last month. Click here to view.AC1234-6 Robinair 1234YF Recover, Recycle, Recharge Machine
  • A refrigerant identifier is also a must. Now some guys prefer to have a stand alone identifier while others prefer to just use the one that is built into their recovery machine. It’s up to you. Just be aware that if you do go with the stand alone that it should meet SAE spec J2912. (I’d recommend you go with the recovery machine, skip the identifier, and save some money.)
  • Lastly, and most importantly you’re going to need to purchase a whole new recovery/recharge machine in order to service HFO-1234yf. Yes, I know. It’s an expensive switch but like it or not every shop in town and across the industry is going to have purchase one of these. You’ll either bite the bullet now or a few years from now. Here at RefrigeantHQ we recommend purchasing the Robinair AC1234-6 recovery machine. Like I mentioned before this unit comes with a refrigerant identifier built right in so you don’t have to worry about buying one of those as well. This unit was the first commercially available recovery machine to meet the new SAE standards J2843 for a 1234yf recovery machine. Click here to purchase on Amazon and click here to view Robinair’s official product page.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What applications will use 1234yf?
    • Mostly it will be automobiles that use 1234yf. Eventually we will see medium duty and even heavy duty vehicles come over to the YF side as well.
  • When will 1234yf come to the United States?
    • It’s already here! While the actual phase out R-134a doesn’t go into effect until the year 2020 many auto manufacturers have already taken the initiative and have begun using 1234yf on their newer model vehicles.
  • Why are we switching refrigerant again for automobiles?
    • I am sure most of you remember the days of R-12 refrigerant. R-12 was phased out back in 1992 due to the Ozone depleting Chlorine that it contained. The substitute that we used for R-12 was the new HFC called R-134a. It was later found that R-134a had a very high Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number. GWP is a measurement of Greenhouse Gases and their effect on Global Warming. A lower GWP alternative to R-134a had to be found and thus we have the new 1234yf.
  • How is 1234yf different from R-134a?
    • 134a is a Hydroflurocarbon refrigerant while 1234yf is a Hydrofluroolefin refrigerant. While these are two separate classes of refrigerants they are in fact very close to each other. The only main difference is that the HFO refrigerants have a double carbon bond whereas HFCs do not.
  • I read that 1234yf is flammable, should I be worried?
    • Truth be told, it’s not that big of a concern. Yes, it’s mildly flammable but so is the gasoline in your car. There have been countless tests from all different companies and organizations from all over the world. Throughout all of these tests there has been only one that found bad results from flammability. I will get further into this one bad test in the ‘history’ section in this post.
  • Do I need to do anything different to work on a YF unit if I am already 609 certified?
    • No, if you are 609 certified through the EPA already you are legally able to work on these new YF units. However, it may make sense to go through 609 training again and to take the test again as these tests have been updated to include newer YF questions.
  • Do I need to be certified to purchase 1234yf refrigerant?
    • Yes, as of January 1st, 2018 you will need to 609 certified with the EPA in order to purchase 1234yf refrigerant. The only exception is when purchasing containers that contain less then two pounds of refrigerant. This new rules applies to R-134a cylinders as well.
  • Will I see a difference between temperatures and pressures when working on a 1234yf unit?
    • There is a slight difference as you go up in temperature but for the most part 134a and 1234yf work on very similar temperatures and pressure.

Auto Manufacturers Using 1234YF

As I have said throughout this article there is a numerous list of automotive manufacturers that have already begun using the new 1234yf refrigerant. I may miss some here but I aim to show you some of the manufacturers that are currently using the new HFO refrigerant. The point here is to show you that this stuff isn’t going away and that in fact it is only becoming more popular. This data is from 2017 and a make list does not necessarily mean that all of their models are using 1234yf. Let’s take a look:

  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Dodge
  • Ford
  • GMC
  • Honda
  • Jaguar
  • Jeep
  • Kia
  • Land Rover
  • Lincoln
  • Subaru
  • Toyota

These are all huge names in the car industry and while not all of their models are covered under YF I feel that it is only a matter of time before they all make the switch. (Keep in mind too that the EPA’s mandated deadline is 2020/2021 model year.)

History of 1234yf

So, when did all of this start? Well, to understand the history of 1234yf and the other HFO refrigerants we first have to go back in time to the 1980’s. Back then all automotive applications were using the CFC R-12 refrigerant for their air conditioning. R-12 was the original mainstream refrigerant that came from the 1930’s. Ever since then it and R-22 had gained and gained in popularity until they were practically found everywhere across the country and the world.

It was in the 1980’s that a team of scientists out of California realized that all of the Chlorine that was in CFC and HCFC refrigerants was causing damage to the Ozone layer. When vented or leaked the refrigerant would drift up and into the atmosphere. It is there where the Chlorine would do it’s damage. Eventually it got so bad 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.

Lo and behold there was found to be another problem with R-134a. Instead of the Ozone layer issue we now had a new issue called Global Warming Potential. Global Warming Potential, or GWP, is a measurement of how much heat a greenhouse gas can trap in the atmosphere. The basic measurement on GWP is Carbon Dioxide which measures as one. This is our standard. Now, if we look at R-134a’s GWP number we can see a number of one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. Quite the difference here folks. We can now begin to see why a substitute for 134a was needed as well.

Enter HFO-1234YF

The problem was discovered and companies along with governments began to look for an alternative solution to R-134a and to other HFC refrigerants that were currently on the market as early as 2001. That’s less then ten years after the switch from R-12! While there were a plethora of ideas presented such as Hydrocarbons, R-744, or other natural refrigerants there were two companies that were doing the research, development, and work on creating and perfecting a new refrigerant known as HFO-1234yf. These companies were Honeywell and DuPont/Chemours.

In 2006 the European Union came out with a directive known as 2006/40/EC. This directive’s goal was to reduce the emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases from mobile air conditioning systems. This would be a gradual phase out across the European Union. The end goal was to have automobiles using refrigerants that had a Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number of one-hundred and fifty or less. The first major date of the phase out was 2008, then 2011, and then finally on January 1st 2017 any new vehicle using a refrigerant with a GWP higher then one-hundred and fifty would be banned from the European Union. The problem here was that there wasn’t a viable alternative to HFC refrigerants at the time this directive was made. I’m sure you’ve heard of the expression: Necessity is the mother of invention.

This timeline put even more pressure on Honeywell and Chemours. In only a few short years later in 2008 they presented HFO-1234yf to the Society of Automotive Engineers Cooperative Research Program. (SAE CRP1234) The society concluded that 1234yf offered superior environmental performance and that 1234yf was safe to use in automotive applications. After this test came a whole host of other tests from companies, governments, and other organizations all over the globe. Everyone wanted to make sure that this new refrigerant was not only good for the environment but also safe. Remember now folks that the new YF refrigerant went up a flammability level to 2L. Was it safe to use? Most everyone said that yes, it was… but there was one company that disagreed.

Daimler

There was one major bump in the road of HFO-1234yf to becoming the dominant automotive refrigerant. In 2012 Daimler began their own internal testing with 1234YF on some of their vehicles. They claimed that in some of their tests that when the refrigerant tank ruptured during an accident that the refrigerant ignited and caused a fire to occur. The video can be seen below. In the video there is a test with 1234yf leaking and then there is a test with R-134a leaking. The video speaks for itself.

There were many disputes from numerous companies and organizations from all over the world to this test and claim from Daimler that the new refrigerant was unsafe for use. For a time it seemed like German Automakers were going to fight HFOs tooth and nail. They had their hearts set on R-744 CO2.  Over the years though there have been numerous court battles and fines issued by the European Union but still Germany persisted against 1234yf.

Eventually a lot of these companies lost the war of attrition and have folded into the 1234YF HFO craze and from the pressure from the European Union. There is one company, Daimler, that is pursuing their own route into the future by developing CO2 R-744 automobile air conditioning systems. Eventually, in 2015 Daimler did agree to use 1234yf in their new vehicles but this was only done to appeal the European Union. In the background, and now in 2017, very publicly Daimler has been developing and testing R-744 or Carbon Dioxide refrigerant modeled cars. It will definitely be interesting to see how this new technology develops over the years.

The EU and the USA

In 2017 the final law went into effect across the European Union and 1234YF was found in every new car that was manufactured or imported into the EU. The only exception that I know of is Daimler and their CO2 automobiles. While the European Union market was changing there was also change going on in the United States.

It seems that the EU is always a precursor for what happens here in the states. In 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule under their SNAP program called rule 20. This new rule dictated the eventual phase out of HFC refrigerants across the United States. While there are many HFC refrigerants in this ruling I will stick with R-134a for now. The basis of the rule was that by the year 2020, or model year 2021, all new manufactured or imported vehicles would not be able to use R-134a. There is room for a few exclusions here and there but these can only push the date back to 2025. Another thing to note here is that they do not state medium duty or heavy duty vehicle markets. So, that means your trucks, haulers, and other large equipment are not included in this ruling as of yet.

By combining the EU’s policy on R-134a and now the United States’ public policy everyone knew that the most logical choice for an alternative was HFO-1234yf. Sure, there were companies like Daimler researching R-744 but this was not a viable alternative at this point in time. Production had to be increased on YF as soon as possible. Earlier this year, 2017, the Chemours company broke ground on a new 1234YF manufacturing plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. This new facility is expected to triple the company’s output of 1234yf. Chemours was just following suit though as the Honeywell corporation actually opened up their new three-hundred million dollar facility in Geismar, Louisiana earlier this year.

These two companies know whats coming. There is a wave of demand that is going to hit and hit hard. The question you have to ask yourself folks is are you ready? Are your employees ready? Is your shop ready? If not today then tomorrow you may have a YF unit roll in. Are you going to know what to do? Are you going to be prepared?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

Important Links

 

Hydrofluroolefin refrigerants, or HFOs, are the latest and greatest to come out to the refrigeration world. HFOs are known as the fourth generation of refrigerants. Their predecessors were the refrigerant classes CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs. HFOs are widely considered to be the refrigerant of the future.

Each time a new class of refrigerants was introduced it was found out, years later, that the refrigerant in that class damages the environment. The first couple of classes known as CFCs and HCFCs were found to be damaging the Ozone layer due to the Chlorine that they contained. The third generation of refrigerants known as HFCs came around in the 1990’s as an alternative to older classes. But, over time it was found that HFCs had a very high and very damaging Global Warming Potential. (GWP)

The plan now is to phase out HFCs across the world and replace them with either Hydrocarbons or with the new HFO refrigerants designed and created in laboratories owned by Honeywell and Chemours. Much like HFCs HFO refrigerants are comprised of Hydrogen, Fluorine, and Carbon. Chemically, the only difference here between HFCs and HFOs is that HFOs are unsaturated meaning that they have at least one double bond.

The goal of the HFOs are to provide an alternative refrigerant that is safe, non Ozone depleting, and with a relatively low Global Warming Potential number.

HFO Refrigerants

  • R-1234YF or Tetrafluropropene. Also known under the Chemours’ Opteon and Honeywell’s Solstice brand names. 1234YF was the first HFO refrigerant developed by the two companies. It’s intended use was for automotive applications and over the years has begun to see widespread usage across the European Union and here in the United States as well. Chances are if you are purchasing a new vehicle it is coming with HFO-1234YF.
  • R-1234ze or Tetrafluropropene. Also known under the Chemours’ Opteon and Honeywell’s Solstice brand names. R-1234ze is a refrigerant designed to be an alternative to the stationary chillers or commercial air conditioning that you would see in supermarkets or commercial buildings.
  • R-1233zd. Also known under the Chemours’ Opteon and Honeywell’s Solstice brand names. It is designed to be a replacement for R-123. The targeted application here are centrifugal chillers. It has a VERY low GWP of one.
  • R-513A or Opteon XP10. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-134a on stationary devices.
  • R-449A or Opteon XP40. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-404A, R-507, and R-22 with a dramatic reduction in GWP and twelve percent improved energy efficiency.
  • R-452A or Opteon XP44. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-404 and R-507 mainly for systems requiring low discharge temperatures such as refrigerated trucks or rail cars.
  • R-452B or Opteon XL55. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-410A with a sixty-seven percent GWP reduction, high efficiency, and minimal changes required when retrofitting.
  • R-514A or Opteon XP30. A Chemours Opteon replacement for R-123 with lower GWP, non-flammable, and comes close to performance levels of R-123.
  • R-450A or Solstice N13. A Honeywell Solstice replacement for R-404A. The targeted application here is supermarket chillers or freezers. It’s GWP is sixty-eight percent lower than R-404A and requires fifteen percent less energy to run.
  • R-448A or Solstice N40. A Honeywell Solstice replacement for R-134a. The targeted application here are your heat pumps, air cooled and water cooled chillers, vending machines as well as other small stationary units.

I wanted to make a point to note that I wrote this above section in October of 2017. At the time I wrote this these were all of the HFO refrigerants that I could find. Now, as time moves on there may very well be additional refrigerants added to this list. In fact, I would be very surprised if there weren’t more added just next year. Honeywell and Chemours are working around the clock creating, discovering, and inventing all new HFO refrigerants. I will do my best to keep this list up to date but if you know of some that I missed please do not hesitate to reach out to me by clicking this link.

More Information on HFOs

The History

Ok, so above we covered the very basics of what HFOs are and the types of HFOs that are on the market today. Now we can begin to dig into the actual history of HFOs, what kind of brands there are out today, and what the future looks like for them.

Looking at things from a chemistry perspective HFOs are nothing new. Just like their HFC counterparts HFOs contain Hydrogen, Fluorine, and Carbon. The one real difference between these two refrigerants is that HFOs are unsaturated. In other words they have at least one double bond of carbon. These double bonded molecules are known as Olefins or Alkenes. This is where the name Hydrofluroolefins comes from. While HFOs may have been around for a while there was never a demand for them. HFCs were the favored refrigerant when CFCs and HCFCs went away in the 1990’s. It was in the early 2000’s that things began to change.

In 2006 the European Union came out with a directive known as 2006/40/EC. This directive’s goal was to reduce the emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases from mobile air conditioning systems. This would be a gradual phase out across the European Union. The end goal was to have automobiles using refrigerants that had a Global Warming Potential, or GWP, number of one-hundred and fifty or less. At the time of this directive most auto manufacturers were using the HFC R-134a. 134a has a GWP number of one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. Due to 134a’s high GWP number the EU’s directive would slowly phase out and ban R-134a. The first major date was 2008, then 2011, and then finally on January 1st 2017 any new vehicle using a refrigerant with a GWP higher then one-hundred and fifty would be banned from the European Union. The problem here was that there wasn’t a viable alternative to HFC refrigerants at the time this directive was made. I’m sure you’ve heard of the expression: Necessity is the mother of invention.

Something had to be done here. Someone had to step up and come up with a solid, stable, and safe refrigerant alternative to the widely used HFC refrigerants. It was the two major refrigerant companies known as Honeywell and DuPont/Chemours that came up to the plate and began researching and producing the first mainstream alternative HFO refrigerant.

A few years later in 2008 Honeywell and DuPont presented the new HFO alternative refrigerant known as 1234YF. This first refrigerant was the first of the new HFO classification line of refrigerants. The presentation was in front of the German Association of the Automotive Industry. (Think Daimler, Volkswagen, and BMW.) The new 1234YF had a GWP number of four. Yes, that’s right four. That is a HUGE improvement when compared to the large number that R-134a came with. 1234Yf was sure to please the European Union.

Not long after the presentation multiple companies and organizations began to endorse the new 1234YF refrigerant. At the time there was an uncertainity in the air of rather the auto manufacturers would go to R-744 (Carbon Dioxide) or to another alternative refrigerant like HFOs. Once the endorsements started coming on for 1234YF the whisperings of CO2 died and nearly everyone jumped on board with the new HFO.

There was one major bump in this road which I will dive into further in our safety section of HFOs but I wanted to mention it here shortly. In 2012 Daimler began their own internal testing with 1234YF on some of their vehicles. They claimed that in some of their tests that when the refrigerant tank ruptured during an accident that the refrigerant ignited and caused an explosion to occur. There were many disputes from numerous companies and organizations from all over the world to this claim. For a time it seemed like German Automakers were going to fight HFOs tooth and nail. They had their hearts set on R-744 CO2.  Over the years there have been numerous court battles and fines issued by the European Union. A lot of these companies have folded into the 1234YF HFO craze but there is one company, Daimler, that is pursuing their own route into the future by developing CO2 R-744 automobile air conditioning systems. In 2017 the final law went into effect across the European Union and 1234YF was found in every new car that was manufactured or imported into the EU. The only exception that I know of is Daimler and their CO2 automobiles.

It seems that with America we always lag behind the environmental standards of the EU. I remember back when I was in the trucking industry a decade ago the government mandated that all new diesel vehicles come with a Diesel Particular Filter and come with Diesel Exhaust Fluid. While this was quite a change here in the States it was old news in Europe. They had been doing this for years. I bring this up because the same thing is happening here with HFCs and HFOs.

The directive in 2006 from the European Union was the catalyst that got the HFO ball rolling. Once that started everyone and every country wanted to jump on board do what they can to phase out HFC refrigerants and replace them with more friendly lower Global Warming refrigerants. These could be Hydrocarbons or CO2 like we discussed before or they could be HFOs.

In the summer of 2015 the Obama Administration’s EPA announced a new rule to their SNAP program. This new rule called RULE 20 was aimed at phasing out HFC refrigerants across the United States. Shortly thereafter in 2016 nations gathered around the world and signed the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment promised to phase out HFC refrigerants across the globe and replace them with more environmentally friendly alternatives such as HFOs.

While the demand for HFOs has already hit the European Union it has still to come in full force to the United States, but everyone knows that it is coming. DuPont/Chemours and Honeywell know this fact all too well. The Chemours Company is building the largest HFO manufacturing plant in the world right here in the United States in Corpus Christi, Texas to be exact. Honeywell is doing something very similar and has built and launched a new HFO plant in Geismar, Louisiana.

Safety Concerns

Let me get this out of the way first and foremost. There is no best refrigerant. Every refrigerant on the market today has Pros and Cons. If we go way back in the day of Ammonia based refrigerant we had the con of toxic chemicals leaking into your home if a leak occurred. HFCs were a relatively stable, safe, and non-flammable refrigerant but as I have covered up above they had the high Global Warming Potential.

The new HFO refrigerants have the big pro that they have a significantly lower Global Warming number but the sacrifice that we have to make for achieving this is the risk of flammability.

Refrigerants have three flammability classifications. The first known as class 1 indicates refrigerants that do not show flame propagation when tested in air at seventy degrees Fahrenheit. Class 2 indicates refrigerants that have a lower flammability limit. Finally, class 3 indicates refrigerants that are highly flammable. An example of a class 3 flammability refrigerant would be R-290 also known as Propane. (Think Hank Hill!)

The HFC refrigerant R-134a has a flammability rating of 1, just like most other HFC refrigerants on the market today. The newer HFO-1234YF has a flammability rating of 2. While it may not seem like a large difference I should point out again that there are only three levels. We’re going up an entire level so that we can reduce Global Warming Potential on our refrigerants. Now, don’t get me wrong here. HFOs just like other refrigerants in the market are safe in the right hands. If you know what you are doing then you’ll be just fine.

There is a risk that comes with replacing R-134a with an HFO. Remember now that 134a and 1234YF applications are mobile, after all they are automobiles. With a mobile application there is a chance of collision and with a chance of collision there is a chance of one of the refrigerant lines rupturing and leaking refrigerant across the rest of the car’s hot engine. No what would happen if that refrigerant that was spewing all over your hot engine was flammable?

This precise scenario is what the German automaker Daimler discovered in 2012. Daimler found that in a severe head on collision the refrigerant line can break apart and spray the 1234YF onto the exhaust system causing a fire. They even recorded a video showing a Mercedes-Benz hatchback catching fire under the hood after 1234YF refrigerant leaked onto the exhaust. The test can be seen in the below video. While the captions in German you don’t need them to understand what is happening here. The moment that refrigerant escapes it ignites nearly instantly. Terrifying stuff.

This test from Daimler shook the industry across the globe. There had been endless tests done on 1234YF before this by Honeywell, Chemours, and many other companies and they all came back safe. After this Daimler test hundreds of additional tests were conducted by other companies and again they all came back as safe.

Now, I can’t tell you who is in the right here. No one really knows. I will say that in 2015 Daimler did come around and state that they would publicly use 1234YF in their newer vehicles. I feel that this is just a cover though while Daimler develops and perfects their CO2 automobile technology. Once it is ready it will be rolled out for all of their makes and models and 1234YF will be left behind.

The question on everyone’s mind is if HFOs are safe. As I said before there have been numerous studies all saying yes. On top of that though I will also state that as I write this there are now thirty-five million 1234YF vehicles on the road today and I have not yet heard of a fire or explosion caused by them. I can guarantee that at least a few of these cars have had head on collisions but there has not been an incident yet. I like those odds.

Brands

Alright folks so we’ve gone into what HFOs are, their history, their future, and even the potential safety hazards. Now let’s take a look at the two brand names of HFO refrigerants that are on the market today. As I write this article in October of 2017 there are two main brand names and they both come from the two largest refrigerant manufacturers in the world: DuPont/Chemours and Honeywell.

Honeywell’s new brand name for HFO refrigerants is known as Solstice. DuPont, now split off into Chemours, brand name is known as Opteon. When a new refrigerant is released under these brand names it is released under a different name then what you may be used too. An example of this if we look at R-513A. To the industry it is known as R-513A but to Chemours it is known as Opteon XP10. Yes, I know it’s confusing but I can assure you that they are the same exact thing. Another example is the 1234YF refrigerant. This refrigerant from Honeywell is referred as Solstice YF. If you were to buy this from Chemours it would be known as Opteon YF. It’s the same thing just different labeling.

One additional point that I want to make on the HFO brand names is that at this point in time there are only two. This has me concerned due to the severe lack of competition. If you look at HFC refrigerants it seems like everyone and their brother makes them and that’s not even counting the imported Chinese product. All of this product on the market allows prices to stay relatively low and prevents companies from gouging consumers and contractors. I feel that it is going to be a shock to a lot of shops, dealerships, and even consumers when they need to recharge their HFO automobile and they find out that it’s seventy-two dollars a pound at a wholesale cost. If your car takes two pounds of refrigerant you’re looking at one-hundred and fifty dollars to recharge and that’s before the shop’s markup. Quite the difference when comparing it to a five dollar can of R-134a. That’s not even mentioning all of the new equipment that will have to be bought to service 1234YF vehicles.

Conclusion

It may take another decade, maybe even two, but I can assure you ladies and gentlemen that HFCs are dying. They will be entirely gone before you know it and they will be replaced by the newer and better HFO refrigerants.  Are you ready?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

As I am sure that all of you know when it comes to manufacturing refrigerant there are only a few players left in town. Sure there are some smaller companies scattered here and there across the country but for the most part when you are buying refrigerant it is coming from one of two companies: Honeywell or Chemours. (Formerly DuPont.) These two companies are household names because of their innovations and inventions but also because of their size. Honeywell’s revenue last year was thirty-nine billion dollars. Chemour’s net revenue last year was just shy of six billion dollars. (Don’t let that six billion number fool you though, Chemours was the DuPont company just a few years ago and we all know how big they are.)

There are other medium sized companies out there today that are still manufacturing refrigerants across the country and outside of the states. Now, I am not going to count the Chinese guys as half that stuff is counterfeit or not mixed correctly. Instead I am going to highlight two companies that you may have already heard of: MexiChem and Arkema. At this point in the game they are the only major competition against the two giants.

Mexichem and Arkema have been fighting the conglomerates Honeywell and Chemours tooth and nail on a variety of issues. I won’t get into everything but I will point out two major suits. They were the ones who started the anti-dumping law-suits against R-134a a few years ago. They were also the ones who filed suit against Honeywell and Chemours claiming that they were exhibiting anti-competitive behavior on their 1234YF product.

The Patent

We all knew that the timeline for HFC refrigerants was short lived due to their Global Warming Potential. We all knew that alternative refrigerants were being developed even before R-410A was being rolled out across the country. What I did not know until writing this article was that Honeywell patented their new HFO refrigerant that they developed in co-operation with DuPont/Chemours. Yes, that’s right. They patented HFO-1234YF and their other classes of HFO refrigerants. The patent details can be ready by clicking here.

What does that mean? Well folks, I am by no means an expert here when it comes to patent law but from what I can gather from the sources that I have read and gathered (Source list at bottom of the article.) is that only Honeywell or Chemours can manufacture HFO-1234YF. So, this new refrigerant that will be used all across the European Union next year and potentially throughout the United States in 2021 will be held in the hands of only two companies: Honeywell and Chemours. Fast forward five or ten years and it will be at the point that whenever an automobile develops a leak and needs more refrigerant it will be bought from either Chemours or Honeywell. Now that just doesn’t seem right now does it?

For those of you who haven’t bought 1234YF yet you will be in for a shock when you see the price. Right now it’s running around seven-hundred dollars for a ten pound cylinder. Heck, you can get a thirty-pound cylinder of R-22 for less. Maybe even a rusted cylinder of R-12. It makes you wonder. Is the cost this high due to the innovation and the hours spent in the lab creating this new class of refrigerant or is it an effort to keep profits up in between these two companies?

To top it all off Honeywell and Chemours are building each their own separate HFO-1234YF plants in the southern United States. Honeywell actually just opened their three-hundred million dollar plant in Geismar, Louisana. One state over in Texas the Chemours company broke ground in February of this year on their two-hundred and thirty million dollar plant. The Chemours facility is expected to go live at the end of 2018, although this may be delayed due to the hurricane Texas just went through. At least they are keeping their plants here in the States.

Arkema

While Mexichem was battling it out in the courts trying to get anti-dumping duties placed on R-134a Chinese imports Arkema was fighting Honeywell and Chemours on their patent and manufacturing rights of 1234YF. They originally filed suit with the European Commission stating that Honeywell has unfairly limited supplies and manufacturing of the refrigerant.

There isn’t a lot of news on this but this snippet I found is from October of 2014. I wanted to quote it to provide you with some context, “The European Commission announced Tuesday that it believes Honeywell International Inc. and E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Co. may have violated antitrust rules by allegedly limiting the production and development of a new environmentally friendly refrigerant used in car air-conditioning systems.” – Source.

Now I am not sure what happened to this initial feeling but I can tell you that nothing came of this. There was never an official ruling and the investigation is still ongoing but I believe it has stalled and nothing will come from it.

In June of this year Arkema filed another suit with the European Commission over Honeywell not allowing them to produce and manufacture 1234YF refrigerant. Arkema accused Honeywell of dominating the HFO-1234yf market and preventing fair competition. Since this suit was just filed there has been little news on the outcome or even rumors on what will happen.

Conclusion

Honeywell has invested nearly one-billion dollars into research, planning, constructing, and manufacturing 1234YF. Their plan, along with Chemours, is to dominate the market of automobile refrigerant in the European Union and soon in the United States. It seems that governments in the European Union and even here in the US have turned a blind eye towards this ever growing monopoly between these two companies. They are not concerned as the end game here is to stop Global Warming and to reduce the Global Warming Potential of automobile refrigerants. If it comes at the cost of having an even bigger conglomerate then so be it as long as Global Warming is slowed down. Take that as you will.

Like it or not 1234YF is the future for automobile refrigerants across the world. It has already been deemed so. The question is will there be enough competition to keep prices low or will auto shops be paying an arm and a leg just to get a few pounds of 1234? I can’t even imagine what the markup would be to the customer!

Remember folks, all Arkema wants to do is produce the refrigerant themselves but they cannot due to the constraints of the patent and Honeywell’s licensing. It’s that simple. Will the EU rule in favor? We will see. We will see.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson
RefrigerantHQ

 

Sources

Well folks one of the big dogs in the refrigerated transport market, Carrier Transicold, has begun offering R-452A as an alternative refrigerant for their trucks here in America. Most everyone already saw this coming due to their competition, Thermo King, had already begun switching their trucks over to 452A as well. For those of you who do not know these two companies are the kings when it comes to refrigerated transport. When they decide to make a change then the whole industry will change with them.

Both Carrier and Thermo King had been offering R-452A as an alternative in the European Union since 2015, and now that choice is available here in the United States. Notice how I said choice. As of today there are no regulations or planned phase outs of R-404A in the transportation market. 404A is being phased out in other applications such as super market freezers and vending machines but there is not an announced plan to phase it out yet on refrigerated trucks yet…

All that being said it is only a matter of time before EPA regulations work their way towards phasing out 404A for the Carrier market. If you’re going to be purchasing a new unit then I would recommend going with the 452A option. It may be more expensive then what you are used to today but it is an investment for the future and may end up saving you money down the road.

What is R-452A?

R-452A is one of the newer HFO refrigerants. HFO stands for HydroFluroOlefin. These refrigerants are rather new to the market and have started to become more popular due to the benefits they offer when comparing them to the common place CFC,HCFC, and HFC refrigerants.  Even today new HFO refrigerants are being developed in the labs at Honeywell and Chemours.

R-452A, or Chemour’s Opteon XP44, is designed to be as a drop-in replacement for R-404A or R-507. The compressor discharge temperature and the flow rate are a near match to 404A/507. That means that you don’t have to the trouble of retrofitting. This is a much easier transition then the whole R-22 to R-410A fiasco. (Please note that before attempting to drop in the 452A refrigerant to call Carrier or Thermo King to ensure that your model doesn’t need component retrofits or software updates. Better to be safe then sorry.)

452A has a zero O-Zone depletion potential. There is no Chlorine involved so there is no risk there. On top of that the 452A has nearly half the Global Warming Potential of 404A. 404 has a GWP of 3,922 times the amount of Carbon Dioxide while the new 452A comes in at 2,141. Obviously, this isn’t the perfect solution and we still have a long ways to go but having the ability to cut the GWP in half on all transport, supermarkets, and vending machines is huge. The bad thing about this is that when the new HFO refrigerant comes out with a GWP of under 1,000 we will have to go through this whole process yet again.

Where Can I Buy R-452A or XP44?

At this time R-452A isn’t too popular yet and because of that it makes it hard to find. If you have direct contact with The Chemours company then I would reach out to them but you may have to buy a few cylinders instead of just one at a time. However, if you are like most of us and don’t have contracts established with the refrigerant manufacturers then you will have to go through a refrigerant distributor or by contacting Thermo King or Carrier Transicold directly.

If you are still having trouble finding a source let me know by following this link and filling out the purchase form. I will look around and reach out to some of my distributors to see if I can get you a source.

Conclusion

Rather you like it or not HFO refrigerants, like the 452A, are going to be the refrigerants of the future. With each year the slow creep and phase out of HFC refrigerants advances and as the HFCs start to fade away the new HFO refrigerants are beginning to take the lime light. As I write this today there are alternatives to R-134a that are becoming more and more popular with US automobile manufacturers. An alternative to R-410A is still being developed but it is only a matter of time before we go through the massive switch again.

If you’re a tech who ends up working quite a bit on supermarket freezers, vending machines, or even a mechanic who will be sticking his hands in on the Carrier/Themo units then I would recommend getting familiar with R-452A and what to expect. For more information on XP44/R-452A check out some of my source links below.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

Sources

Honeywell Refrigerants

The race is on to find suitable alternatives to R-404A. In 2009 the Honeywell corporation invented a new refrigerant called Genetron Performax. (R-407F) This new refrigerant is an HFC blend containing forty percent of R-134a, thirty percent of R-125, and thirty percent of R-32. The thinking behind this refrigerant was to come up with a viable alternative to the currently used R-404A  in supermarkets and grocers that would be more friendly to the environment.

R-404A has one of the highest Global Warming Potentials in all of the refrigerants on the market today standing at 3,922 GWP. (Source from Linde-Gas.com) To give you some perspective the GWP of R-134a is only 1,430. Just by looking at the numbers here you can see why there is a large concern over the damage that 404A is causing to the environment and the impact that it is having on Global Warming. This is the main reason that when we hear about the phasing out of HFC refrigerants R-404A is the first one targeted. (The phase out began in the United States last year.)

This new refrigerant designed by Honeywell, R-407F, has a GWP of 1,824. That is over a fifty percent decrease in GWP from 404A. While the 1,824 is still very high for a refrigerant it is significantly better than what we had been using. Imagine if everyone converted over to this new refrigerant. The impact on the environment from supermarket freezers and refrigerated transport would be cut in half.

Along with having the lower GWP than 404A the R-407F is an A1 rated refrigerant. That means low toxicity and that it is non flammable. This is a big deal as a common occurrence with alternatives to HFCs is higher flammability ratings. A few more benefits to this refrigerant are that it is an efficient R-22 retrofit option, lower discharge temperature than R-22, similar cooling capacity to R-404A, uses the same oil as 404A, and has around a ten percent energy savings when comparing to existing 404A systems. (Source on these claims is from Linde-Gas.com)

15,000th Store

At the close of 2016 Honeywell celebrated reaching their 15,000th store being converted over to R-407F. That is quite the achievement. Honeywell predicts that over the course of 2016 they saved over ten million metric tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent. That is equal to eliminating five million cars off of the road.

Most of these retrofitted units were implemented in the Asia Pacific region and in the European Union. The ASDA supermarket chain in the United Kingdom reported that they consumed fourteen percent less energy on the systems using R-407F when comparing it to R-404A.

Along with the added efficiency these stores and business will be in compliance with the European Union’s F-Gas regulation from 2015. The EU regulation can be found by clicking here, but the main goal is to reduce the EU’s HFC usage by 1/4 of 2014 levels by the year 2030.

Conclusion

R-407F is an HFC refrigerant and as I mentioned above HFC’s will be going away. Honeywell does offer a lower GWP under their new Solstice Hydrofluoroolefins refrigerant line. This refrigerant is called N40 or R-448A. R-448A has a GWP of 1,273 which is sixty-eight percent lower than 404A. This HFO refrigerant is also rated as an A1 by the ASHRAE classification. That means low toxicity and low flammability. The downside to alternative HFO refrigerants is the price. Hopefully, as time goes on the price will eventually lower to be closer to HFCs.

As the years pass by we will begin to see more HFO’s, like the R-448A that I mentioned above, come into the marketplace. While HFC’s are going away the push is on to shrink the GWP of refrigerants as much and as quickly as possible. Even though R-407F will most likely be replaced by an HFO refrigerant in the near future Honeywell is still seeing outstanding success in converting systems over to their 407F. It’s better to start converting now and save some carbon than wait until the ‘perfect’ refrigerant comes along.

I predict that in the next few years we will see the push to switch to the lower GWP HFC alternatives increase and during that increase we will slowly transition over and away from HFCs to the newly developed HFO refrigerants that have even lower GWP.

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed the article please take the time to subscribe to our newsletter by filling out your e-mail in the top right of the page. Thanks again,

Alec Johnson

Owner.

Sources

Alternatives to R-410A?

Rather you like it or not folks R-410A will be going away and it’s going to be happening a lot sooner than everyone thinks. In 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they will beginning the initial steps of phasing out R-404A in July of 2016, January 2017, and 2018. Along with that they also announced that the tried and tested R-134a will begin being phased out in the year 2020. (2021 model years.) HFCs are quickly coming to an end.

On top of the EPA’s actions on phasing out HFC refrigerants there was an amendment added to the Montreal Protocol only a few months ago in November of 2016. More than one-hundred countries met in Kigali, Rwanda. The United States, the European Union, and many other countries have been working tirelessly on getting an HFC phase out amendment added to the Montreal Protocol for years. Well the last holds out finally gave in and everyone’s dreams finally came true in late 2016. The goal of the agreement was to ban all HFC refrigerants across the world by the year 2100. The United States along with all of the other countries happily signed the agreement.

Under the signed amendment developed countries, including the United States, must reduce their use of HFC refrigerants by ten percent by 2019 from 2011-2013 levels, and then by eighty-five percent by 2036. Along with this developed countries will also have to comply with a freeze of HFC consumption levels in the year 2024. By the late 2040’s all developed countries are expected to consume no more than fifteen to twenty percent of their baselines. In order to meet these guidelines developed countries have already begun phasing out the other HFCs as we discussed above. 410A is not on the chopping block yet but it will be soon.

Everything, and I mean everything, is pointing in the direction that 410A will be no more. The only thing that I could see stopping the phase out of 410A in the near future is the presidency of Donald Trump. Now, keep in mind that this is all speculation, but Trump has said before that he doesn’t believe in Climate Change. So, if you don’t believe in something than why would your country pledge and sign a treaty saying that you would phase something out because of Climate Change? It doesn’t make sense. No one knows what Trump will do though. He may leave things the way they are or he may go back and try to renege on the treaty.

The Four Rules

The race to find an alternative refrigerant for R-410A is on. After all, 410A has to be one of the greatest used, if not the greatest, refrigerant in the world. Everyone needs a cool house and most of the time they’re either using R-22 or R-410A. Finding an alternative has proven difficult though as there has been no perfect match so far. There are four considerations companies have to consider before they can sign off on a golden ticket replacement product. These four ‘rules’ or considerations are Environment, Energy Efficiency, Safety, and Economy.

  1. If we look at the first criteria of environment we have to consider two things. One being that the new product can’t contain Chlorine like the old CFCs and HCFCs of the past. We don’t want a repeat of the O-Zone damage that we went through the eighties and nineties. The second being that the replacement cannot have a large Global Warming Potential like the HFC refrigerants used today. The whole point is to have a refrigerant that does NOT damage the environment, or at least, does not damage the environment as much as the current HFCs do.
  2. Energy Efficiency pretty much explains itself. Obviously we do not want have a gas that would be used across the world that is terribly inefficient. What good would it do to if we’re just wasting energy and impacting the environment in another way? The whole robbing Peter to pay Paul mentality. It doesn’t make sense.
  3.  Safety is another consideration that has to be factored in when finding the ‘perfect’ refrigerant. One of the major risks here is flammability. Each refrigerant has a flammability rating and some are much higher than others. If you have proper training on dealing with flammable refrigerants than there is nothing to worry about. The danger comes in if the R-410A replacement is highly flammable. Commercial units are usually left alone. Only professionals ever attempt to maintenance them. With a home unit you run the risk of having novices or ‘Bubbas,’ trying to maintenance or even install their own machine. Imagine the risk they could be taking if the refrigerant they were dealing with was extremely flammable? (Like R-290.) The other aspect of safety is the toxicity levels of the refrigerant. If you have a leak and it is in a confined area what effect will that have on the people in that area? Will there be permanent damage to them after breathing it, or even death?
  4. Economy is the last and final aspect when looking for an alternative. What good is an alternative if no one can afford it? If a ten pound cylinder is north of $1,000 how is anyone going to be able to afford it? Cost is a large factor when considering an alternative. Truth be told I believe we’re seeing the cost problem now with the 134a replacement. The HFO 1234YF is nearly $700 for a ten pound cylinder. Imagine the cost involved if you had to refill your car after a repair? It’s quite the difference between the $100 cost of a thirty pound cylinder of 134a.

Ok, so with those four considerations in mind let’s review the possibilities of the future for replacing R-410A.

Hydroflurocarbons (HFC’s)

Yes, yes I know. R-410A is an HFC so why would we replace it with another HFC? Well, there is a push to change from 410A over to R-32 refrigerant. The thinking is that this wouldn’t be a permanent solution but more of a temporary until something better comes along. R-410A’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) is 1,725 times that of Carbon Dioxide. This large number is why 410A is being pressured to be phased out. While R-32 is an HFC it’s GWP is only 675. That is about a sixty percent decrease. It’s not a perfect bullet but it would help with the battle against Global Warming.

There are a few benefits to R-32 one of which I mentioned above. The first being the lower Global Warming Potential. The second benefit is that consumers will see a ten percent reduction in their energy usage when switching to R-32. Another pro for R-32 is the cost. It is overall much cheaper than R-410A and is readily available to purchase now. R-32 has seen wide usage across Australia and in July of 2015 was approved for limited usage by the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency. (Visit link to their website here.)

Ok, so we have see the pros of HFC-32 now let’s take a look at some of the downsides.  R-410A is classified as ‘Non-Flammable,’ according to the Safety Data Sheets. The flammability rating on 410A is ruled as class 1. When looking at the same data for R-32 we find that it is ‘Extremely Flammable,’ and is classified under a level 4 for flammability. Both of these come from each products Safety Data Sheets which can be found by clicking here for R-410A and here for R-32. And to think people were freaking out about the flammability of 410A a few years ago!

Another downside to R-32 that companies have complained about is the toxicity of breathing in the product. Proponents have rebutted saying that R-32 is no more toxic than any other refrigerant when breathed in. Which I believe is a perfectly valid point. The last downside and one that is extremely difficult to prove is that R-32 causes cancer. There has been no conclusive tests on this theory and so far it is speculation. The belief is that this rumor started in California due to their strict environmental laws.

So, in review on R-32 we have a cheaper alternative refrigerant to R-410A and one that has nearly sixty percent reduction in Global Warming Potential. But, this replacement product is extremely flammable and may put people at risk. In my opinion I do not believe this refrigerant meets the four conditions to be accepted as an acceptable substitute. (Safety comes to mind.) If we do start using HFC -32 here in the United States than I could see it being only temporary until a better HFO refrigerant comes along. I wouldn’t put money on seeing this at your next service call.

Sources on R-32:

Hydrocarbons?

Hydrocarbons are a different story. They have been around a lot longer than the HFOs and even HFCs. Everyone is at least somewhat familiar with them and even a laymen has heard of most of them. (Propane, Isobutane, Carbon Dioxide.) Some of these refrigerants go all the way back to the nineteenth century if you can believe it. Before the rise of CFCs such as R-12 Hydrocarbons were widely used in various establishments. One of the first air conditioned movie theaters in the early twentieth century was cooled by Carbon Dioxide.

Alright, that’s enough of a history lesson. Let’s dive in and take a look at the possible scenario on each one:

R-290 (Propane)

Alright so let’s get the selling point of R-290 out of the way now. Propane has zero O-Zone depletion potential and only a GWP of only 3. Yes, that’s right. 3. Humongous difference when comparing to 410A’s GWP of 1,725.  Right out of the gate R-290 meets the environmental criteria for an alternative. Overall it is rather energy efficient and the cost is relatively cheap coming in at right about the same cost as a thirty pound cylinder of R-410A. (A little over one hundred dollars a cylinder.) We’re three for four on propane passing the feasibility test. There is just that last one. That one that we overlooked, safety.

The disadvantages are the flammability risk, safety standards/codes, and ensuring each technician is properly trained before handling. If propane is handled in the right way and by a properly trained technician than everything will be fine. However, if ‘Bubba,’ tries to install his own unit or retrofit his own machine with propane that is where things get dangerous. A common occurrence over the years since R-22 has grown more expensive is for companies to market their R-290 product as a drop in replacement for their R-22 units. This is a dangerous practice since the R-22 machines were not meant to use propane. The end result can result in injury or an explosion.

R-290 is already seeing widespread use in India and China and now the middle eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and others are expressing interest for R-290 due to it’s better performance in higher ambient temperature environments. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved R-290 for use in stand alone small charge units including retail food refrigerators and freezers. All that being said though I do not foresee seeing R-290 being widely used as a replacement for R-410A.

R-290 Sources

R-744 (Carbon Dioxide)

R-744 has no harmful environmental effects. I mean, there is nothing more natural than Carbon Dioxide. There is no O-Zone depletion potential and the Global Warming Potential is minimal. In fact as I mentioned earlier R-744 was one of the very first refrigerants used in the world only losing popularity once the easier to use R-12 was introduced.

R-744 requires very low energy to run, is non-toxic, and non flammable. The problem that comes with R-744 is not the dangers of flammability like that of R-290 but instead with economy. R-744 runs at an extremely high pressure during operation. The pressure is so high that the efficiency of the compressor suffers greatly and the durability and thickness of the pipes needs to be increased to compensate. The thickened pipes and the custom high pressure equipment increases the overall cost of R-744 for most uses.  Some could also make the argument that Carbon Dioxide refrigerant due to it’s increased pressure of 2,000 pounds per square inch also makes it dangerous to work on. That’s a tally of two out of four.

While R-744 is seeing usage in other smaller applications like that of refrigerated cases I do not foresee it being used as an alternative to R-410A due to the additional cost of the higher pressure equipment and the potential safety risk of the high pressure.

R-744 Sources

R-717 (Ammonia)

Ammonia or R-717 is often regarded as the most efficient refrigerant gas on the market today. Along with it’s energy efficiency aspect it also has no O-Zone depletion potential and has a Global Warming Potential of zero. The cost for R-717 is much lower than other HFC refrigerants on the market today creating a cost savings if someone was to switch over to R-717.

If we refer to the four rules again that I stated above we are three for four so far. The fourth rule, and honestly one of the most important, is safety. R-717 is not the safest refrigerant… by any means and it is one of the reasons why it is not commonly used in today’s residential market.

Like R-290 R-717 is highly flammable. Don’t let me say it though, let’s take a look at the exact wording on the safety data sheet on R-717: “Flammable. Toxic by inhalation. Causes burns. Risk of serious damage to eyes. Very toxic to aquatic organisms.” – Source. So we have a highly flammable product that has high toxicity and can cause damage to your skin and eyes. I can see why this hasn’t taken off.

While R-717 does have the safety detriments it is still widely used today in many types of manufacturing plants such as dairies, ice cream plants, frozen food production, cold storage warehouses, and meat processing plants.  I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again. This potentially hazardous material works because it is being used in a large commercial setting. The Jo Schmo do-it-yourselfer is never going to tamper or try to fix one of these commercial machines. If something goes wrong at one of these businesses they call in a professional. If R-717 becomes a mainstream refrigerant found in every home in the country than the risk of do-it-yourselfers accidentally burning themselves or worse causing an explosion goes up exponentially. For that reason alone I do not foresee R-717 being used as a suitable R-410A replacement.

R-717 Sources

Hydrofluoroolefin (HFO’s)

HFO’s are already seeing large usage in the European Union and now beginning in the United States. Most of the applications have been under the HFO 1234YF used in automobile applications. As of January 1st, 2017 cars can no longer be manufactured with R-134a systems in the EU. The United States isn’t too far off either with our final date being 2020. (2021 model year.) 1234YF is quickly replacing the R-134a market that we know today. To some it’s 1994 all over again where we phased out the R-12 in place of R-134a.

The selling point on the new  HFO’s are the environmental impact. The goal here was to create something as similar as they could to the current HFCs on the market but without the high Global Warming Potential that comes with them. For example, the 1234YF refrigerant has a global warming potential of four. For comparison, the Global Warming Potential of R-134a is over 3,000. There is a significant difference and the climate will be greatly affected if the whole world switches over to these new HFO refrigerants. (Or Hydrocarbons.)

The problem with HFOs is that they are all in developmental stage. The two conglomerate companies DuPont/Chemours and Honeywell have been putting endless hours and money into developing new HFO refrigerants that could take the place of the beloved R-410A. The other complication with HFO’s is that since they are being invented by only a few companies these same companies hold the patents on the new product. This creates an almost monopoly type setting where Honeywell and Chemours can set whatever price they want on their new Opteon and Solstice brands. Now, I’m not attacking these companies for having a high priced product. There is cost involved and I am sure it is quite high to create these new refrigerants. The reason I bring it up is for you the consumer or the business owner to realize just how expensive these refrigerants are. For example, a ten pound cylinder of the HFO 1234YF goes for about $700. For comparison a thirty pound cylinder of R-134a goes for about $120.

While there are MANY HFO refrigerants under development and available today I am only going to be looking at the possible 410A alternatives. With the introduction out of the way let’s dive into the various HFO refrigerants available today:

Opteon DR-55 (R-452B)

R-452B passed the flammability and toxicology review required by the ANSI/ASHRAE in March of 2016. Upon it’s approval it was given a preliminary ASHRAE number of R-452B. While this new alternative refrigerant from Chemours still has a somewhat high Global Warming Potential of 676 it is still sixty-five percent lower than it’s R-410A counterpart. It also comes with a lower flammability rating than other proposed R-410A solutions. (R-290 for example.)

Along with it being friendlier to the environment  and safe to use R-452B matches the capacity of R-410A allowing it to be compatible with currently used R-410A equipment. This allows for a quick and easy change of refrigerants on existing 410A units in the field.

While this refrigerant is still in the preliminary stages I could definitely see this becoming mainstream once it goes to market. It has right around the same GWP of R-32 but comes with a lower flammability rating. My only concern on this new refrigerant from Chemours is the cost. How much is this going to cost per cylinder when it rolls out this year or next? HFO’s are notoriously known for their high cost. Let’s hope that this new refrigerant doesn’t fall into that same category.

R-452B Sources

Opteon XL41 (R-454B)

R-454B is another new HFO refrigerant that was developed by the Chemour’s company. This refrigerant has the lowest GWP of all of the drop in R-410A replacements out there today. It comes in at a GWP of 466, that is seventy-eight percent lower than 410A. The formula on the refrigerant itself is a very close match to 410A and has been proved to be higher performing than 410A in some instances.

The downside of this new refrigerant is it’s mildly flammable status. While flammable refrigerants are perfectly safe when used in the right hands they can be extremely dangerous in the hands of a novice. Even though this refrigerant is in fact the lowest GWP alternative out there today I do not foresee it becoming a mainstream alternative to 410A simply because of it’s flammability rating. The chances of a homeowner hurting themselves is just too great.

R-454B Sources

SOLSTICE REFRIGERANTS?

I spent some time digging through Google and Honeywell’s website looking for mentions of a feasible R-410A alternative. The best that I found was a press release from 2013, four years ago, saying that they were working on a new 410A alternative. I haven’t been able to find much more news on these refrigerants. When I reviewed their website, which can be found by clicking here, I found four new Solstice HFO alternatives… but they were not for R-410A. Instead they were for R-134a, R-404A, and R-22.

I may be mistaken here and missed the boat on finding their alternatives to R-410A. If I have please let me know by sending me an e-mail and I’ll update this article. (Follow this link and scroll to the bottom to send me an e-mail.)

What’s Winning?

At this point it is hard to say but if I was to put my money down I would be betting on two refrigerants. Over the next few years we are either going to see a push for the Hydrocarbon R-32 or the new Opteon DR-55 (R-452B). As I said before I have a feeling that the cost of the new R-452B will be quite a bit higher than what we are used to today. The consideration that has to be made is the lower cost of R-32 when compared to R-452B worth the risk of extra flammability? Is it worth saving money but having that risk of flammability?

Conclusion

Even though the R-32 and the R-452B refrigerants may be the new normal when it comes to home air-conditioning it is important to realize that they will not last. They are good viable alternatives to the R-410A used today but they are not perfect. They still have a somewhat higher Global Warming Potential. R-32 is too flammable for some people’s taste. R-452B will most likely be to expensive for others. Who knows what the next alternative will be?

There’s no telling what the final answer will be at this point in time. The only certainty is that everything is fluid and the refrigerants that we are using today could change this year or next and that I’ll do my best to keep everyone informed! If you see anything that is incorrect or not factual please take the time to e-mail me by clicking here and I will correct as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed the article please take the time to subscribe to our mailing list by navigating to the top right of the page and registering your e-mail. Thanks again!

Alec Johnson

Owner.

Top 3 Refrigerant Changes in 2015

Hello ladies and gentlemen! It’s that time of year again. The cold wind is blowing, the snow is falling, and the temperature barely gets over twenty degrees across half of the nation. Instead of thinking about the cold I’m thinking about the summer. What will the heat be like next summer? How bad will it be here in Kansas City and how easily can I escape it with my precious air conditioning? (Last year we had nearly an entire month of hundred degree days.)

The refrigerant market is always changing and developing. It seems like every week there is something new and most of the time there is. As we close out 2016 and begin to look forward to the new year to come I find myself thinking about what upcoming changes we will see next year on refrigerant here in the United States. Here are, in my opinion, the three biggest change factors that we will see next year:

1 – Chinese Tariffs1

By now I’m sure you heard talk of tariffs on the importing of Chinese refrigerant. Over the past decade the Chinese have been importing larger and larger quantities of R-134a cylinders into the United State’s market. Just in 2015 China imported over 14,000 tons of refrigerant into the United States. (Source) Along with the Chinese flooding our marketplace with their product they are also bringing it in at a substantially lower cost than what our local manufacturers can get to.

Last year if you were to import a container of R-134a refrigerant cylinders into the United States you could pay somewhere between $40-$50 for a thirty pound cylinder. This was practically half the cost of what Chemours or Honeywell were selling at. There was plenty of margin to be made and I could see why importers brought it in by the ton. If I had the opportunity and the storage space I probably would have done it as well. The reason why the Chinese can get their price so low is due to the cheaper labor costs over there but also in big part because of their government subsidizing the industry and artificially lowering their manufacturing cost. This allowed them to go to market at that $40-$50 price and still make a hefty profit.

In order to combat the low priced Chinese product American companies began to file law-suits with the United State’s International Trade Commission. The law-suit was against China’s dumping of R-134a into the marketplace at an unfair value. The American companies lobbied for a tariff to be installed on all of Chinese 134a imports. The first suit was filed towards the end of 2013. Since then numerous suits have been filed and all have been denied by the Trade Commission. The latest suit filed by the HFC coalition, a grouping of American companies, was filed in March of 2016. Unlike the others this suit may actually end up going through.

In September 29th, 2016 the Trade Commission announced a preliminary ruling saying that they were in favor of installing tariffs on imported 134a product. The preliminary tariff percentage they announced was 137.23%. (188.94% on smaller Chinese companies.) This will take a $50 cylinder of 134a up to $118.62. Quite the difference. For more details on the rulings and what to expect click here for a previous article that I wrote.

2017

So, the question on everyone’s mind is what is going to happen in 2017. Well, there are two things for certain. In February the trade commission will announce their final tariff percentage on imported 134a product. Then a month later in March they will announce their final ruling. This is the big kahuna. This is the one that matters. While the other rulings are important this one in March is the yes or no on rather the tariffs will be instigated.

One solace to small business owners and technicians is that the expected price increase from the 134a tariffs has already hit. When the announcement came from the Trade Commission in September of the 137 percent increase the price on 134a skyrocketed to over a $100 a cylinder on bulk purchases. My prediction for 2017 is that if they rule in favor of the tariffs that the price on 134a will pretty much stay the same. However, if they rule against the tariffs than I could see the price of 134a plummet to high $50s per cylinder on a forty cylinder pallet.

Other HFCs as Well?

At this point everybody is expecting the tariffs to eventually get approved. After all, companies have been fighting for them for nearly four years now. Eventually, one of these times, they will get what they want. It’s just a matter of time. The thing to mention is that these suits have all been focused on 134a and not on 410A, 404A, or any other refrigerant.

Are there tariffs expected on these common HFC refrigerants as well? From everything that I have read and seen on the anti-dumping lawsuits I have seen no mention on R-410A or R-404A. At this point in time I believe that there haven’t been measures taken to impose the tariffs on these refrigerants. As far as what will happen in the future I can only guess. I believe that R-404A won’t be bothered with. It’s being phased out in just over a year anyways. To me the one to watch is 410A. This refrigerant is the defacto refrigerant now for home and commercial use. It’s a prime market for the Chinese to target and it’s a prime market for the American companies to fight back on.

Conclusion

In 2017 I see the tariffs on 134a being approved and instigated. Everything is pointing in that direction. For once in many years the price of 134a may actually be stable for a long period of time. If it doesn’t get approved get ready for a roller coaster of back and forth prices as the American companies compete with the Chinese imports.

2 – The Beginning of the End of HFCs

2

I’m sure most of you guys saw this coming. It was only a matter of time. The beloved HFCs that we have fallen in love with over the past few years are going away. In a meeting in Rwanda in October of this year over one-hundred and seventy countries agreed to and signed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment titled The Kigali Agreement is strictly focused on phasing out all HFC refrigerants across the world by the year 2100. Since this was an amendment to an already existing treaty the Obama administration did not need to get approval by congress. Instead, all they had to do was sign. (I’m not too happy about that, but that’s another story and I’ll leave politics out of this.) I wrote a more in-depth article on the Kigali agreement that can be found by clicking here.

Why HFCs?

Some of you may be asking why HFCs? I thought CFCs and HCFCs were the bad ones. I thought Chlorine was the culprit. Well, yes… that’s true. Chlorine being vented into the atmosphere was the culprit in damaging and eventually tearing a hole into the O-Zone layer. It was because of this Chlorine in the atmosphere that the Montreal Protocol was designed and implemented. The Chlorine containing refrigerants had to be phased out. (R-12, R-22, R-502.) The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 and only a few years later R-12 was phased out, then in the late 1990’s R-502 said goodbye. Lastly, in the year 2010 we waved farewell to R-22. As we phased out all of these refrigerants we began to replace them all with the newer HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A.

How quickly we change our minds. Now that HFCs have been around for a while and have been implemented all across the globe scientists are beginning to realize the impact that they are having on the environment. While they do not contain Chlorine they do contain extremely potent greenhouse gases that when released into the atmosphere are sometimes 1,400 times stronger than Carbon Dioxide. Think about that number for a second. 1,400 times stronger. That is nothing to scoff at. Now think about all of the developing countries in the world who now have the money and business to support air conditioning units. The explosion of industry in India and China coupled with the amount of HFC refrigerants used around the globe made for a perfect storm. The rise of HFCs has correlated directly into the rise of Global Warming. Scientists and governments were determined to stop it.

Changes

Something had to be done across the globe and that is just what the Kigali Agreement was designed to do. In only a few years, in 2019, developed countries such as the United States are expected to cut all of their HFC consumption/production of HFC refrigerants by ten percent in comparison to 2011-2013 levels. By the year 2036 we are expected to cut HFC usage by eighty-five percent. These agreements are signed into international law and will have to be followed.

On top of all of those changes the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has announced that they will be starting earlier on HFC refrigerants. Their first target is R-404A. As of January 1st, 2017 supermarket freezers and cold cases can no longer use R-404A on newly manufactured machines. (Source from Chemours.com.) Retrofitting is not allowed either. As of January 1st, 2019 vending machines can no longer use R-404A or R-134a. That’s not the big dog though. No, not even close. In the year 2020, or 2021 model year, it will no longer be acceptable for light duty vehicles to use R-134a. Instead most vehicle manufacturers will be switching over to the lower GWP HFO refrigerant known as 1234YF.

Conclusion

Like it or not this is the beginning of the end of HFC refrigerants. They had a good run of… fifteen to twenty years. It’s on to bigger and better things. It’s on to hydrocarbons. It’s on to natural refrigerants. It’s on HFOs. At least, it’s on to these refrigerants until we find something wrong with them and then the whole process will start all over again.

EPA Phases out HFC Refrigerants
EPA Phases out HFC Refrigerants

3 – The Testing and Pushing of Alternative Refrigerants

3

Obviously, if we phase out HFC refrigerants we need to find a replacement refrigerant that performs well, is cost consciousness, and does not harm the environment. Somehow, this narrows the list down to only a select few refrigerants. Over the past few years there has been a battle brewing between the newly innovated HFO refrigerants such as HoneyWell’s new Solstice brand name or DuPont/Chemours’ new Opteon brand name and natural refrigerants, also known as hydrocarbons.

As of now there is no clear winner in this battle. It really depends on where you look. Hydrocarbons are very popular in some parts of the world like Asia and at other points in the world they are practically unheard of. For example, it is rare to find a hydrocarbon application in the United States. It just never caught on here.

If I was to put money on what the majority of the market will look like in another five to ten years I would put everything on HFOs. My reasoning here is that you have to giant conglomerate corporations known as DuPont/Chemours and HoneyWell developing, innovating, and pushing their new HFO brands. These companies are monsters for a reason. Most of the time they get their way. On top of that there is just nothing sexy about hydrocarbons. HFOs are new. HFOs are exciting. New and exciting are what the people want.

Hydrocarbons/Natural Refrigerants

Hydrocarbon refrigerants have been around for a long time and I’m sure most of you recognize them right away. Some of the most commonly used hydrocarbon refrigerants are as follows:

  • R-290 – Propane
  • R-600a Isobutane
  • R-1270 Propylene
  • R-744 Carbon Dioxide

Hydrocarbons are just as efficient, if not more efficient, than HFC or HCFC refrigerants. They are extremely cheap as well when compared to the newly patented HFO refrigerants such as 1234YF. (1234YF goes for as much as $700 for a ten pound cylinder.) They also have an extremely low global warming potential so there is no risk to the environment when using them.

While all of this sounds good the downside of natural refrigerants are the high risk of flammability. I’m sure that you noticed that one of the refrigerants that I listed above is propane. (R-290) In my opinion it doesn’t get much more flammable than that. Just a few weeks ago there was a story about two men working on a hydrocarbon unit. They were not being careful and ended up causing an explosion that cost both their lives. (You can read the article by clicking here.) This unit contained a mixture of propane and isobutane.

This risk of explosion is what has turned people off from hydrocarbons. Even though they are perfectly safe if handled correctly and maintained correctly there is still that level of fear. People just aren’t comfortable using propane for their primary refrigerant. Think about it. Go up and ask someone on the street if they want to use propane for their air conditioning refrigerant. They’d look at you like you grew a second head.

HydroFluroOlefins (HFOs)

HFOs are still new. In fact they have only been around for about a decade. The most commonly used HFO today and the one that you most likely heard of is 1234YF. Both HoneyWell and Chemours have their own version of it. See below picture of HoneyWell’s Solstice cylinder:

1234YF Refrigerant & Refrigerant
HoneyWell’s Solstice 1234YF Private Brand

1234YF is the now the default refrigerant across the European Union and is used by all of the major European car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, and many others. It has also caught on with the Korean and Japanese car market showing up in Toyota and Honda models. Each year that passes we see more and more 1234YF usage across the world and in the United States’ market.

The 1234YF is accepted widely now. The question is what is next. What will replace R-404A? What will replace R-410A? These questions are still up for debate. There are many alternatives out there today and there are many more being developed. So far there is no perfect cross. There is no telling when that perfect solution arrives but I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up next year.

Conclusion

As I said above I believe in this battle between the HFOs and the Hydrocarbons that the HFOs will come up on top. They have the bank roll of the mega corporations and they have the appeal of something new. Hydrocarbons will always be here and be with us but at least in the United States I see them taking a back seat to the upcoming dominance of HFOs. All of us will be very familiar with the new Solstice and Opteon brands in the near future.

Conclusion

2017 is going to be an interesting year to say the least. There are all the things I mentioned above to consider and there is also a wildcard that I didn’t mention. That wildcard is Donald Trump. What affect will he have on the United State’s refrigerant industry? He has said again and again that he despises China for their trade war against us. Would that mean that he would put on additional tariffs on Chinese imported refrigerant? Could he raise the cost of R-134a even more?

On the other side of the coin he has said that he wants to get rid of as much regulation as he can and that he doesn’t believe in Climate Change. Could this mean that he will back out of the Kigali agreement? (If that’s even possible.) Could he delay some of the EPA’s actions on HFCs? As I said above, it’s a true wildcard. Time will only tell what will happen.

I hope you enjoyed the article and I hope that you are just as excited for the 2017 year that I am. I feel that this is going to be a big year for me and I hope it is for you too!

Thanks for reading and have a happy new year!

Alec Johnson

Owner.

Well ladies and gentlemen it’s that time of year again. The time of year when a cold wind blows, the temperature doesn’t rise above thirty degrees, and snow flurries fall from the sky. What better time than now than to talk about refrigerant? It’s the slowest point in the season and it seems that when things slow down everyone is able to take a step back and look at what the market is doing and will be doing in the upcoming months.

This post will go over what my pricing predictions are in 2017 on some of the most common refrigerants used today. I am by no means a fortune teller or clairvoyant so I ask that you take these predictions with a grain of salt. My theories are based off of what I have seen happen in 2016 and what I believe will happen in 2017.

For 2017 I see it as kind of a mixed bag. I see the high possibility of two wild cards on a couple refrigerants (R-134a & R-404A) and the others I see as barely changing a dime. Before we get started digging into each refrigerant let’s take a moment and consider the following things that will happen next year in the refrigeration industry:

Considerations

Donald Trump's Affect on the Refrigerant Industry
Donald Trump’s Affect on the Refrigerant Industry
  • Trump – It’s worth noting that next year we will be having a ‘Donald Trump’ effect on the market. Rather this is a good thing or a bad thing is to be determined. Trump has shown that he is against regulations, against the EPA and it’s enforcement of climate changing policies, and most of all he doesn’t believe in Climate Change. All of this bodes well for the price of refrigerant. He very well may get rid of some of the phase outs and extra regulations. However, the other side of the coin is that Trump is VERY anti-China. He is against their so called currency war. He is against their trade policies. He is against dumping of their imports into the United States market. He has also talked about imposing a thirty-five to forty-five percentage tariff on Chinese imports into the United States. This would have a significant impact on not only imported refrigerant but also on US manufactured product. (If I was a manufacturer in the US and saw all the import price rising I would raise my cost too and make some extra money.) I wrote more about what impact Trump will have in another article that can be found by clicking here.
  • Anti-Dumping Tariffs – On top of the ‘Trump Effect,’ we also have the lawsuit filed by the HFC coalition with the International Trade Commission. For those of you that have been paying attention for the past few years I’m sure you are very well aware of it. The claim is that China is importing their refrigerants into the United States market at dirt cheap prices. They can do this because of course labor is cheaper over there but also because the Chinese goverment subsidizes these companies with the unlimited coffers of the goverment treasury. So, when this imported product hits the United State’s market it comes in at a very low price. (Sometimes $40-50 a cylinder.) The initial lawsuit was filed on R-134a and on September 30th, 2016 the Trade Commission made a preliminary ruling in favor of imposing a tariff on imported R-134a from China. The agreed percent was 137.23 on the two main Chinese companies and 188.94% on other Chinese companies. The Trade Commission released a fact sheet on this that can be read by clicking here. 
  • Phase Outs – Along with the other two factors phase-outs is something veterans of the refrigeration industry had grown to hate. It seems that every few years another refrigerant is being pushed out and being replaced by something else. Instead of the goverment coming after the CFCs or HCFCS they are now coming after the friendly HFC refrigerant class. This includes your commonly used R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. Don’t be surprised if you hear of an upcoming phase out of these in the next few months and also don’t be surprised if you see your price raise due to a recently announced phase-out.

Alright, so now that we got all of that out of the way let’s dive into it by looking at each of the common refrigerants out there today:

 R-22 HCFC

R-22 30 Pound Refrigerant Cylinder
R-22 30 Pound Refrigerant Cylinder

Phase-Out

Ok guys first thing’s first. If you haven’t switched your unit from R-22 and over to R-410A DO IT NOW! Your R-22 machine is at least seven to eight years old now and I’m betting that a lot of them are quite a bit older than that. On top of your machine being older it is also less inefficient than it’s HFC 410A counterpart. And finally, R-22 is extremely expensive due to the Montreal Protocol mandated phase out. Every year that passes less and less R-22 is allowed imported or produced in the United States and just like everything else the less supply there is the more demand there will be. According to the EPA’s website, which can be found by clicking here, the phase out schedule of R-22 is as follows:

Year to Be Implemented Implementation of HCFC Phaseout through Clean Air Act Regulations Year to Be Implemented Percent Reduction in HCFC Consumption and Production from Baseline
2003 No production or import of HCFC-141b 2004 35.0%
2010 No production or import of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22, except for use in equipment manufactured before January 1, 2010 2010 75.0%
2015 No production or import of any other HCFCs, except as refrigerants in equipment manufactured before January 1, 2020 2015 90.0%
2020 No production or import of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22 2020 99.5%
2030 No production or import of any HCFCs 2030 100.0%

Now, you may have noticed we’ve hit the majority of these dates already. Remember how I said your R-22 unit is getting old? As shown above no new machines from 2010 or greater can be manufactured with R-22. So, if you have an R-22 machine it is approaching or is already over ten years old. Worst of all, if your unit springs a leak and you run out of refrigerant you face paying a large sum of money just to replace your R-22.

Price

Let’s talk about price now. I’ve been writing my price per pound articles for the past three years now and each time I write one the price of R-22 keeps on climbing up. (My latest price per pound article can be found here.) In my 2015 article R-22 was retailing at about $300 per thirty pound cylinder. In my 2016 article R-22 was retailing at about $480.00 for a thirty pound cylinder. In my latest article that I wrote only a few days ago for the 2017 year R-22 is between $600-$700 for a thirty pound cylinder. That $300 price back from 2015 for a thirty pound cylinder will now only get you a ten pound cylinder for the same amount of money. (Example Amazon link.) It’s amazing at how fast the price can go up.

As you can see the price of R-22 is continuing to climb. The past two years it has gone up thirty percent consistently. My prediction for the 2017 year is more of the same. Let’s call the current price $650.00 for a thirty pound cylinder. That’s a happy medium between the $600-$700 that I’ve been seeing. If we do the below math we will get the number of $928.00.

$650.00 / (1-.30) = $928.00 for a thirty pound cylinder.

So there you have it folks. Next year’s predicted price for a thirty pound cylinder of R-22 is set at $928.00. If you are looking to buy some I would suggest to buy it now before the price climbs any higher. However, if you are on the other side of the coin and you have some inventory that you are sitting on I would hold onto it and watch the value climb and climb. I’ve even heard of some people buying whole pallets a few years back and storing it away in their warehouse for a few years. Imagine the profit if you bought forty cylinders at $300 and then turned around and sold them at $900 a few years later.

$300 * 40 = $12,000 cost

$900 * 40 = $36,000 cost.

Profit of:      $24,000

Not too bad of a deal if you ask me! If you are interested in purchasing R-22 please visit our product page. Also, if you are interested in purchasing pallet quantities please visit our bulk purchasing page. Lastly, please be aware that you need to be certified with the EPA in order to purchase or handle R-22.

R-410A HFC

R-410A Refrigerant 25 Lb Cylinder
R-410A Refrigerant 25 Lb Cylinder

Potential Phase Out

Along with R-134a I would say R-410A is one of the most popular refrigerants on the market today. Nearly every home or commercial air conditioning unit is using or will be using R-410A for their refrigerant. It became the default refrigerant back in 2010 when it replaced the HCFC R-22 as I talked about in the R-22 section.

Now that we went through all of the work of replacing R-22 with the 410A HFC there is now talk about replacing 410A. Can they make up their minds? Even though 410A does not contain Chlorine like it’s predecessor it has been found that HFC refrigerants have a very high Global Warming Potential (GWP). 410A has a GWP of 1,725 times the effect of carbon dioxide. Basically, 410A emits Greenhouse Gases that get trapped in the atmosphere and warm the planet. Now imagine the impact that it could have if every air conditioner in the world begins using R-410A. Startling, huh? So, now the race is on to find an alternative to 410A.

So far there is no end all be all for a 410A replacement. Honeywell, Chemours, and other companies are hard at work as we speak seeking out the best alternative refrigerant with the lowest GWP. Some of the contenders are:

  •  R-32 – This has a GWP of 675, not the best but better than what we have now. I wrote an article about this one last year that can be found by clicking here.
  • Natural Refrigerants such as R-290 and CO2 – So far these have not shown to be a cost effective solution but their GWP is VERY low. (Source article.)
  • DR-55 – A Chemours refrigerant pending approval as R-452B. Blend of R32, R1234yf and R125. GWP of 698. (Source)
  • L41z – A Honeywell refrigerant pending approval as R447B. Blend of R32, R125 and R1234ze(E). GWP of 740. (Source)
  • ARM-71a – An Arkema development refrigerant with a GWP of 460. (Source)

There is no set date on when R-410A will be phased out but I foresee it as only a matter of time. Once a standard replacement has been found than the phase out will begin. This could be next year or five years down the road. It’s difficult to tell.

Price

When 410A started to become popular the price was about on par with the price of R-134a. In 2014-2015 the price hovered between $75 and $80 for a twenty-five pound cylinder. Over the past few years it has climbed about fifteen to twenty percent each year. Today the price is hovering around $130 for a retail customer. (If you purchase more than one cylinder or go in for a pallet of 410A you will save money per cylinder as well.)

Even though the price has climbed over the past few years I honestly don’t see 410A changing much in 2017. The phase out won’t be happening for a while. They haven’t even decided on a replacement product yet and when they do decide the phase out will be a staggered approach just like all of the others. If they decide on a standard replacement product in 2017 the phase out of 410A may not even start until 2022 or 2023. So, with that in mind I predict that the price of 410A in 2017 will stay relatively flat at between $130-$150 retail. Bulk purchasing may get you lower but even then you’re still looking at being in the hundreds, maybe in the high nineties if you’re lucky.

Another thing to mention on 410A is that in 2017 you do NOT need to be certified with the EPA to purchase. If you wanted you could go to Amazon.com or E-Bay.com today and purchase yourself some 410A with no regulations required. However, starting on January 1st, 2018 you will be required to be certified before purchasing or handling any HFC refrigerants including 410A, 134a, 404A, and others. (Source from EPA’s website.)

Lastly, if you are looking to purchase 410A by the cylinder I recommend Amazon.com today or E-Bay.com. If you are looking for a bulk purchase of forty cylinders or more visit our bulk purchasing page and we’ll see what we can do for you!

R-134a HFC

R-134A 30 Pound Cylinder Refrigerant
R-134A 30 Pound Cylinder

Phase-Out?

Remember those wildcards I mentioned at the beginning of my post? Well 134a is one of them. (If you haven’t noticed already by watching the market.) It was announced in the summer of 2015 that R-134a would be joining alongside R-404A in the slow phaseout of applications. The case on R-134a wasn’t  nearly as drastic as it was for R-404A. The phase-out of 404A has already begun where with R-134a we still have a few good years left. (2020 is the main year for vehicles.)

R-134a days are numbered rather you like it or not. More and more newer model cars are opting for the HFO 1234YF made by Honeywell and Chemours. The Global Warming Potential of 1234YF is significantly less than R-134a and it is being pushed heavily by the United States’ Government as well as many other nation states including the European Union. Give it a few more years and 134a will be the exception instead of the rule.

The Anti-Dumping Tariff

Alrighty, ladies and gentlemen. Here were are. The tariff. You may have noticed that the price of R-134a went from about $70 a cylinder this summer all the way up to an average of $110 a cylinder over the fall and winter. This jump in price is in direct correlation to the ruling by the International Trade Commission on a anti-dumping tariff on R-134a imports from China. As I said in the beginning of this post they ruled in favor of imposing a tariff on September 30th, 2016. While this ruling is still preliminary and the final ruling won’t happen until March of 2017 the market still freaked out. (Click here for the Trade Commission’s fact sheet on the ruling.)

The standard price of $70 flew up overnight with the announcement of a proposed 137.23% tariff on all imported Chinese product. (188.94% on smaller Chinese refrigerant companies.) Can you imagine taking a 137% increase in cost for your business? I certainty can’t. This ruling is a double edged sword. If the HFC Coalition gets their way Chinese imports price will sky rocket. This will create a chasm in the market and cause every price on 134a to climb along with the imports… just like it did this fall. You, me, and everyone else will end up paying more for their refrigerant. On the other side is the preservation of American jobs and American manufacturing. We can be competitive again. We can actually buy American made product. Sounds nice huh? Do you want to pay more and save jobs… or do you want to pay those low prices and maybe put your neighbor out of work?

R-134a Tariff Schedule
R-134a Tariff Schedule

Pricing

Alright, so enough about all that other stuff. Let’s get to the reason you came here. What is the price of R-134a going to do next year? Up until the ruling in September the retail price on cylinders was just shy $100.00 on Amazon and E-Bay. After the ruling the price only jumped to about $115. While this may not seem like a big jump I can assure you that on the wholesale side of things we saw our price jump from $80 a cylinder all the way up to over $100 a cylinder. I believe the product that we are seeing sell for $115 online are distributors sitting on old inventory. I do not see this price lasting for long.

As for what will happen in 2017 this is a tough one to call. I do not believe the impending phase out in a few years is going to effect the pricing at this time. My big concern is the ruling on the tariff in March. What will happen if they rule in favor? What will happen if they rule against? Here are my two predictions:

  • If the Trade Commission rules in favor I do not see the market adjusting much at all. I believe the adjustment already happened in early October when their preliminary announcement was made. (It jumped nearly thirty dollars a cylinder.) My prediction if they rule in favor is that wholesale prices will stay just a shy above $100 a cylinder. Retail prices will level out at about $130-$135 a cylinder.
  • If the Trade Commission rules against the tariff than I can see the price plummeting back down to where it was earlier this summer. My prediction would be that wholesale pricing will be in mid $70s and retail pricing will be in the high $90s. 

Lastly, if you want to purchase R-134a by the cylinder I would suggest visiting our Amazon and E-Bay partners. If you are looking for more than just a few cylinders please visit our bulk purchasing page and we will get you in contact with some of our distributors.

 

R-404A HFC

R-404a Refrigerant
R-404a Refrigerant

So-Called Phase-Out

This is the other wildcard of 2017. No one really knows what’s going to happen on the price of 404A as there are so many cards in play in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Starting in July 20th, 2016 the initial phase-out began. While the July date only imposed a ban on retrofitting existing machines over to 404A it was just the beginning. The next big date on 404A phase-out is January 1st, 2017… you know only a few weeks away. The order and the types of machines affected can be very confusing. Instead of trying to explain everything in text I figured it would be easier to review in a table or picture. I pulled these tables directly from Chemour’s website. All credit goes to them for compiling the data. (Click here for source.)

Chemours HFC Phaseout Schedule
Chemours HFC Phaseout Schedule
Chemour's HFC Phaseout Table
Chemour’s HFC Phaseout Table

As you can see from the above tables this is the beginning of the end for 404A. July 2016, January 2017, January 2018, and so on. The big thing to mention though is that 404A will no longer be accepted in these machines it is NOT at this point in time being phased out. Let me rephrase that: R-404A is not being phased out yet but it’s use in certain machines is. So, unlike R-22 where the applications were limited and the production/imports were phased out R-404A is not being phased out. It is just having it’s applications severely limited. Their strategy could very well be phasing out 404A by starvation. If there are no more legal applications what would we use R-404A for anyways? It’s a roundabout way of going about it but maybe this will be the new way to rid the world of HFC refrigerants.

Price

So, what are we looking at as far as price on R-404A next year? Well, before we look to the future let’s look at the past. In 2015 we were at about $90-95 for a twenty-four pound cylinder of R-404A.  The price went up slightly in July of 2015 when the EPA announced their intention to phase out R-404A starting in July of 2016. I believe almost everyone saw it coming anyways so it came as no surprise. After a few months the price leveled out and has remained fairly constant for the rest of 2015.

The price began to climb again in 2016. As shown in the above table the first phaseout was this July with the ban on retrofitting. In just a few weeks the next ban hits. As of right now the price online on Amazon and E-Bay are between $110 at the lowest and at $175 at the highest. It is honestly very difficult to say what’s going to happen next year.  The phase out of machines using R-404A inclines me to believe that the price will go up. But, on the other hand there is no official reduction in R-404A production, only the shrinkage of machines using it.

Because of the supply remaining the same but the demand slowly shrinking I predict R-404A to actually go down in price next year. My prediction is that we will see single cylinder price at the end of next year hovering right around $85-$90 a cylinder. We’ll see if I’m right!

If you’re interested in purchasing R-404A by the cylinder I advise you to check out our Amazon and E-Bay partners for the best deal.  If you’re looking at purchasing more than a few cylinders at a time please check out our Bulk Purchasing page and we will see what we can do for you.

1234YF HFO

1234YF Refrigerant & Refrigerant
HoneyWell’s Solstice 1234YF Private Brand

Background

1234YF is one of the highest priced refrigerants on the market today. A ten pound cylinder goes between $700 to $800 a cylinder. This is substantially higher than it’s HFC counter part R-134a. The reason this HFO is so high in price is due to the demand. At this point in time there just isn’t that much demand for it. Even as I write this towards the end of 2016 the majority of vehicles in the United States are still using the trustworthy HFC R-134a for their refrigeration systems.

While 1234YF is the minority today it won’t be for long. There is already a scheduled plan to phase out R-134a across the United States starting in 2020. (2021 model years on vehicles.) The phase out will be staggered like most of the other refrigerant phaseouts but the process will start in only three short years. Hard to believe 2020 is that close. On top of our phase out the European Union has already phased out R-134a entirely and has moved the majority of their new vehicles over to 1234YF or to other lower Global Warming Potential alternatives.

Price

Over the course of 2016 the price of 1234YF has fallen, albeit slowly. We started the year right around $750 and we are ending the year at a price at or just below $700 for a ten pound cylinder. If I was to predict what would happen next year I would say almost exactly the same thing as this year. The addition of more cars to the marketplace will create more demand for manufacturing. Honeywell and Chemours will respond accordingly and start to add more of it to the market. This will be a slow creep effect and I could see at the end of 2017 that we will be looking at a price of around $620-$650 a cylinder.

As the years roll by and the refrigerant becomes more popular I see us going under $500 but not much lower than that. When the phaseout of 134a starts in 2020 I could see 1234YF jumping up in price for a a few months but as the phaseout wears on the price of 1234YF will settle back down to around $500-$600. In my opinion, the days of lower priced HFCs are gone. HFO’s will always be higher than what we are used to today with our low cost environmentally damaging HFCs. My final prediction for 2017 on 1234F is $635.00 for a ten pound cylinder this time next year.

If you are interested n purchasing 1234YF than I suggest your visit our friends over at Refrigerant Depot. We’ve been partnered with them for the past couple years and they have provided the best product and service to our customers.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning of this post these predictions are just that… predictions. No one knows exactly what will happen next year and anyone who claims to know is making it up! Here’s hoping that I’m right on 1234YF and 410A and am dead wrong R-22! No one wants to see the price go up. (Well at least I don’t.)

I hope all of you enjoyed my post and my fortune telling on next year’s market trends. Here’s to a happy new year and I wish everyone the best sales next summer!

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.

Over the past few years I have done numerous posts concerning the true cost per pound of R-22, R-410A, and R-134a. Each one of these posts have had outstanding success including the one I just published only a few days ago. (Link is here.) Throughout these articles I have yet to mention the refrigerant that is slowly picking up traction in the automotive world, HFO 1234YF.

1234YF is designed as a replacement for the HFC R-134a. While 134a is still active and going in the United States it has already been phased out in the European Union and it is only a matter of time before 134a is phased out the US as well. The scheduled beginning stages of phasing out 134a is scheduled for 2020, or on 2021 model years. It is worth noting that this date may change with the election of Donald Trump and the nomination of Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. Both of these guys are anti regulation and anti EPA. I could easily see them pushing out the 134a phase out date down the road.

Pricing on 1234YF

In my other articles I usually use the rule of thumb of going on Amazon and E-Bay to get a feel for the market price. There are usually multiple listings on both sites. These listings will allow you to gather an average price and base everything off of that. This method doesn’t work for 1234YF. For some reason I have found only one listing of 1234YF on E-Bay at $750.00. (This listing may go away in the future.)

No one else has taken the imitative to start selling 1234YF on Amazon or E-Bay. It very well could be that the sales just aren’t there yet but give it a few more years and I bet we’ll start seeing it pop up on these websites along with others. **Update – Please be aware that this product is now on Amazon.com for retail.

With all of that being said instead of using Amazon and E-Bay I am going to use my source from Refrigerant Depot, Eric Sugarman. In my e-mail discussion with Eric the other day he informed me that he is charging $675.00 per ten pound cylinder of 1234YF. (Price goes down further if you buy multiple quantities.) He also informed me that the price has been fairly stable over the past few years, much unlike the 134a counterpart.

Math

Alright so we’ve got two prices to work with here $745 on E-Bay and Refrigerant Depot’s $675. Let’s take a middle of the road number, $700, for our math example.

$700 / 10 pounds of refrigerant per cylinder = $70.00 per pound of HFO-1234YF

Each car is different on how many pounds of refrigerant they require. Some only require one pound and others upwards of eight to nine pounds. It is always best to check your owner’s manual or your dealership to see how much you need. In our example we’re going to call it three pounds of refrigerant to get a complete fill up of your vehicle.

3 pounds of refrigerant * $70.00 per pound = $210.00 for a complete fill up.

Now, please keep in mind that these prices CAN change. To give you a bit more help I have also included a feed from our Ebay partner below that shows you the current market price of R-1234yf:

HFO-1234YF Automotive Refrigerant YF 10 pound cylinder (424-418)

$660.00
End Date: Wednesday Dec-12-2018 9:16:20 PST
Buy It Now for only: $660.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Honeywell HFO-1234YF Refrigerant 10 lb Cylinder NEW, Sealed, Ships UPS ground

$665.00
End Date: Sunday Nov-25-2018 8:55:20 PST
Buy It Now for only: $665.00
Buy It Now | Add to watch list

Remember, Mechanics Need Money Too

Ok, so we’ve got our numbers. If you are a do-it-yourselfer than you know how to take it from here. However, if you are taking your car into a shop to be worked on the thing that you need to remember is that $70.00 per pound is very nearly, or is, your mechanic’s cost. You are paying your mechanic or dealership for not only their labor but also for their expertize. Expect markup. Do NOT expect to pay $70.00 per pound. They deserve to be paid for their knowledge.

The goal of this article is two things:

  • If you are a small business, or do-it-yourselfer, this gives you the average price of 1234YF and an option to purchase it at Refrigerant Depot.
  • If you are having your car worked on at a dealership or a shop than this article gives you the knowledge to negotiate the price of your refrigerant down to a manageable markup. While you may not pay $70.00 per pound you will be able to recognize a gouge if they charge you $300 or $400 a pound.

What Cars are Using 1234YF Today?

As I said before 1234YF is still fairly new to the United States market. Each year the numbers of cars the US using this refrigerant is growing. While I couldn’t find a true up to date listing of every car that is using this refrigerant today I did find this article from last year listing some makes and models. (Source of list can be found here.)

  • BMW i3 Electric
  • Cadillac XTS
  • Chevrolet Malibu, Spark EV, Trax
  • Chrysler 200C, 200S, 300, 300C
  • Citroën C4, Elysëe
  • Dodge Challenger, Charger, Dart, Ram 1500
  • Fiat 500
  • Ford Transit
  • Great Wall Motor Company Limited – Voleex C30
  • Honda Fit EV
  • Hyundai Santa Fe, i30
  • Infinity Q50
  • Jaguar F Type
  • Jeep Cherokee, Renegade
  • Kia Sorento, Optima, Carenz, Cee’d2
  • Lexus GS450h
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Mitsubishi Mirage
  • Opel Mokka
  • Peugeot 301, 308
  • Range Rover and Range Rover Sport
  • Renault Zoe 3
  • SAIC Motor Corporation Limited MG350/Rover 350
  • Subaru BRZ, Forrester, Impreza, XV
  • Tesla Model S
  • Toyota Yaris HSD, Prius Plus, GT86

This list is eighteen months old and it is already large. Imagine what this list will be like in just a few more years. I found this quote from November of 2016 off of Chemours’ official website:

“The use of HFO-1234yf is growing exponentially; by the end of 2017 an estimated 50 million vehicles are expected to use it in their air conditioning systems.” – Chemours Website

Imagine that, fifty million cars. It’s coming folks.

Conclusion

In conclusion 1234YF is here to stay. I would like to say that the high price tag of $700 for a ten pound cylinder is going to come down but to be honest over the past few years the price has stayed consistent. The days of cheap refrigerant may be over as we transition away from HFCs and over to the new HFO class of refrigerants. The hope that is as HFOs become more and more popular that the price begins to fall.

Either way I hope this article was helpful to you and ended up saving you some money!

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.

Donald Trump's Affect on the Refrigerant Industry

Regardless of your politics last month’s election was definitely a surprise. Obviously, the election of Donald Trump will have a profound impact on the country and the rest of the world. The question I ask to you is what kind of impact will he have on the United States’ refrigerant market?

Now, we all know what kind of affect Barack Obama had on the market. While he didn’t preside over the phase out of HCFCs like R-22 he did preside over the beginning stages of phasing out HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. All of his actions were in response to his Climate Change Action Plan. (This link to whitehouse.gov will show more detail.) Obama used the Environmental Protection Agency to impose new regulations on HFCs and to eventually phase them out entirely. His goal was to replace all of these refrigerants with the less potent, but more flammable, HFO refrigerants such as 1234YF. On top of that he also pressured other countries to do the same. (India, China, Pakistan, and others.)

R-404A is the first to go away and the process has already begun. In 2015 the EPA listed R-404A as unacceptable in newly manufactured machines as of 2017. This covers all supermarket refrigerators and freezers. Vending machines get a bit more of a break and have a deadline of 2019. I wrote an article about this at the time of the release and it can be found by clicking here. Next on Obama’s list was R-134a. The EPA has listed 134a as unacceptable in new vehicles as of the year 2020. (2021 model years.) The goal here is to switch everyone over to 1234YF or to other natural refrigerants.

So we know what Obama did and wanted to do the question is what do we predict Trump doing over the next four years? While I am not a fortune teller I believe the answer can be drilled down to two main points:

Tariffs on Imports

Before President Trump was even a pipe dream there were already anti-dumping law suits filed against Chinese companies importing their R-134a refrigerant in mass. The complaint was that the Chinese companies were being subsidized by the Chinese government which caused their price to lower to unheard of levels. Since this cheaper import was being flooded into the United States market it caused the US refrigerant manufacturers to drop their price as well. While this may sound good for the consumer it was actively hurting the manufacturers such as Honeywell, DuPont/Chemours, and Mexichem. Along with hurting US companies it also allowed for impure 134a product from China to enter the market. (Not all of the Chinese product was one-hundred percent 134a.)

The three companies I just mentioned joined together in a group called the American HFC Coalition. The coalition filed a suit with the US government’s International Trade Commission. The Trade Commission took over a year to decide and so far nothing official has happened but the signs are all pointing to an imposed tariff on the imported 134a.

The commission is due to hold another hearing on February 23rd, 2017 on it’s decision. (Link about it can be found here.) The rumor is that there will be around a two-hundred percent tariff imposed on new product. This tariff may in fact even be retroactive on previous imports. So, if you imported 134a in the past you may be at risk of having to pay the tariff or fine on your old product. This has many small business owners very nervous.

Donald’s Stance

Throughout the campaign Donald Trump has stated again and again that he is against China. In his words they have been doing a trade war with the United States and they have been winning. He has also said that he is in favor of large tariffs on companies that move jobs overseas. It only seems logical that he would be in favor of anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese imported refrigerant.

I foresee that when he becomes President that he will push this even more than it already is. Chemours and Honeywell will grab his ear and he will push his Trade Commission hard and fast to approve the tariffs. If this does get approved the price on a cylinder of R-134a could reach upwards to $150-$200 a cylinder perhaps even higher than that.

Climate Change Skepticism

Well that first part was the bad news. Are you ready for the good news now? Donald Trump has stated again and again that he believes Climate Change to be a hoax. Believe it or not, this is good for the price of refrigerants. On top of his stance on climate change he has also stated that he will be getting rid of regulations across the board. Combining these two stances I could see Trump reversing course on the EPA’s decision to phase out 404A and 134a.

The whole reason they are being phased out is due to their Global Warming Potential and how they contribute to Global Warming. If Trump doesn’t believe in Global Warming in the first place why would he instill these hardships on businesses across the country? It just doesn’t make sense.

I don’t see this being a top priority for Trump right away but I feel as time goes on into his term and his consultants bring this to his attention that he will make the move to stop the HFC phase out before the deadline hits.

Conclusion

Having Trump is a mixed bag for the refrigerant industry. On one hand you get the Climate Change skepticism and the most likely remaining of HFC refrigerants. On the other hand though you have his hatred of China and their trade war. Over the next few years I predict we’ll see:

  • Tariffs installed not only on 134a but on other refrigerants as well. (410A and maybe even 1234YF.) These tariffs will force companies to make their product here in the US.
  • Reduction or total cancellation of HFC phase outs. (Including 404A, 134a, and 410A.)

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.