Refrigerant Fact Sheets

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

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

The Facts

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

Thoughts on R-12

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

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

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

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

R-12 Refrigerant History

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

 

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

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

The Facts

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

Thoughts on R-454B

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

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

The Facts

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

Thoughts on R-32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

R-134a Refrigerant
R-134a is the most commonly used refrigerant for automotive applications rather it be your twenty year old Toyota Camry or your Kenworth T-200 semi-truck. Ever since 1993 R-134a has been the staple refrigerant for automotive applications. Before 93 we used R-12 for our vehicles and now, as I write this article in 2018, there is a push to phase down R-134a and replace it with the new HFO refrigerant known as R-1234yf.

This article is going to into the facts of R-134a, some of the most common questions asked about this refrigerant, and some of the most important points of note on the refrigerant, as well as the history of the refrigerant. Let’s dive in and take a look:

The Facts

Name:R-134a
Name - Scientific:Tetrafluoroethane
Name (2):Norflurane
Name (3):Freon 134a
Name (4):Forane 134a
Name (5):Genetron 134a
Name (6):Florasol 134a
Name (7)HFC-R134a
Name (8)Suva 134a
Classification:HFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:Haloalkane Refrigerant
Chemistry (2):
Chemistry (3):The lower case 'a' indicates an Isomer, or different composition from R-134.
Chemistry:Production by reacting Trichloroethylene with Hydrogen Fluoride.
Status:Shrinking & Phasing Out
Future:Will be phased out across the world soon. (Prediction of 2030)
Application:Automotive: Light duty, medium duty and heavy duty.
Application (2):Heat Pumps, Chillers, Transport Refrigeration, and Commercial Cooling
Replacement For:CFC R-12 Freon
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:1,430
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Lubricant Required:POE & PAG Oil Lubricants
Boiling Point:-26.3° Celsius or -15.3° Fahrenheit.
Critical Temperature:101.06° Celsius or 213.91° Fahrenheit
Critical Pressure:4059 KPA or 588.71 pound-force per square inch.
Auto ignition Temperature:770° Celsius or 1,418° Fahrenheit
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas/Liquid
Color: Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:None, if you do smell something it is most likely the oil.
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 609 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 609 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Light Sky Blue
Cylinder Design:
R-134a Refrigerant
R-134a Refrigerant
Cylinder Design (2):Thirty Pound Tank
Price Point:Medium $-90-$160 a Cylinder Depending on Conditions.
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?From Our Amazon Partner
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Points of Note

Alright folks so we’ve gone over some of the basic facts about R-134a but now let’s take a look at some of the more interesting points about this refrigerant:

  • I mentioned this briefly above but R-134a was designed and began to see use as an alternative product to R-12 Freon, or Dichlorodifluoromethane. R-12 has been around since the 1930’s and was being used in automotive applications for decades until it was discovered that it harmed the Ozone layer. As a replacement product R-134a was introduced into the automotive market in 1993.
  • Like it’s predecessor, R-12, R-134a was and is used across a wide array of applications in the automotive world. You can find R-134a in your Ford Focus or you could find it in your gigantic Semi-Trucks or in your Gray-hound Bus. Back in the early 2000’s one of my responsibilities was to purchase R-134 by the pallet or the trailerload and co-ordinate delivery to the company’s various dealerships. It is amazing  just how much R-134a a dealership  can go through.
  • Along with the automotive industry you can find R-134a in various heat pump applications and other commercial refrigeration needs.
  • R-134a is also used in quite a few refrigerant blends as well as a key ingredient. Some of these include: R-416A, R-420A, R-423A.
  • While R-134a does not have an Ozone Depletion Potential it does have a high Global Warming Potential. (GWP) The higher a GWP number the more damage the  product can do towards Global Warming. These high GWP chemicals are known as Greenhouse Gases. Across the world there has been a push to phase down our phase out entirely these high GWP HFC refrigerants.
  • Most refrigerants and refrigerant applications are left to professionals. Sure, there are some do-it-yourselfers out there, but for the most part technicians handle the repairs. The exception to this is R-134a and automotive applications. Many people enjoy working on their vehicle and buying a few cans of R-134a and repairing your air conditioning system is no big deal to them. This is a rare exception within the refrigerant industry.
  • Building off of my point above, this is why we saw such resistance and upset from the Environmental Protection Agency’s new law  that started in 2018. This regulation prevented R-134a cylinder sales to people who are NOT 609 certified. Do-it-yourselfers can still buy individual pound cans but they are restricted are larger purchases. So, they can still do their own repairs, they just can’t hoard cylinders of R-134a in their garage. You can go down to the local auto parts store today or on Amazon.com and purchase some cans without any issues.
  • The European Union has already phased out R-134a on any new vehicle models. Most car manufacturers have switched to the alternative HFO refrigerant known as 1234yf. The plan for the United States was to phase out 134a on new vehicles by  the year 2021, but this regulation was delayed due to Federal court rulings. Don’t let this fool you though. R-134a is ending and ending soon even here in the United States.
  • A few years back a law-suit was started with the International Trade Commission. The suit claimed that China was dumping low-priced R-134a into the US market which locally based companies were not able to compete with. In order to resolve this issue anti-dumping tariffs were issued against Chinese R-134a. The issuing of these tariffs caused the national price of R-134a to jump nearly twenty dollars for a thirty pound cylinder.
  • Since these tariffs were issued the  price point for R-134a has stayed relatively stable over the past few years. (I write this in summer of 2018.)
  • In another ten or fifteen years R-134a applications will be a rarity  or seen as an antique. While the new HFO-12134yf may  not be the perfect solution it IS the refrigerant that all  of the vehicle manufacturers are running to.  Another possible alternative to look at is Daimler’s experiments with CO2 or R-744 in their vehicles.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What Happened to R-12?
    • As you know, R-12 was the default for automotive air conditioning for decades but in the 1980s it was discovered that R-12 was harming the Ozone layer. Because of this, R-12 was phased out across the world and was replaced by R-134a.
  • What is R-134a?
    • R-134a is an HFC refrigerant that is intended to be used in automotive applications. It was designed to replace R-12. It has no Ozone Depletion Potential but has a high Global Warming Potential.
  • Can I Buy R-134a Without a EPA 609 License?
    • No, as of January 1st, 2018 you can no longer purchase cylinders of R-134a without a proper 609 Environmental Protection License. This is due to what’s called the ‘Refrigerant Sales Restriction.’ The good news here though is that without a license you are still able to purchase cans of refrigerant that contain less then two pounds of product.
  • What Kind of Certification Do I Need to Work With R-134?
    • As I mentioned above,  you will need what’s called a 609 certification. 609 comes into play when you are working on an automotive air conditioning application and ONLY when you are working on an automotive application. If you wish to work on other AC units you will need to obtain your 608 certification as well. Once you have 609 certification you can purchase, handle, and install refrigerants into automotive applications.
  • Is R-134a Toxic or Flammable?
    • No, R-134a is rated as an A1 on the ASHRAE ‘s safety rating scale. The A stands for the product not being toxic or harmful. The 1 stands for no hint of flame propagation. This is a very safe refrigerant.
  • What Kind of Oil do I Use for R-134a Systems?
    • In most cases you are going to be using what’s known as PAG Oil. PAG oil, or Polyalkylene Glycol, is a fully synthetic hygroscopic oil specifically designed for automotive air conditioner compressors. It is used in R-134a air conditioning systems to lubricate the compressor. When looking at PAG oil you will notice various numbers such as PAG46 or PAG100. These numbers refer to the viscosity of the oil, similar to 10W30 oil. In order to determine the correct PAG viscosity for your vehicle you will need to look up the specifications of your make and model of your vehicle either online or in the instruction manual.
  • Is R-134a Being Phased Out in the United States?
    • Well, at one time it was. Way back in the summer of 2015 the EPA announced that R-134a was NOT to be used in new vehicles starting with the model year 2021. Since this regulation came out though there was a court ruling that overturned the proposed rules. Since then the EPA has retracted it’s regulations and as of today there is not a set phase out date.
  • What Countries Are Using R-134a?
    • Nearly every country in the world today is using R-134a. Yes, some countries have phased it out on newer vehicles, but there are still very many cars out there that are still  using 134a. We won’t see a total vanishing of R-134a usage for at least another twenty or thirty years. Remember, we have to wait for all of these old vehicles to die.
  • Can I Mix R-134a With  R-12 or 1234yf?
    • No, it is never a good idea to mix refrigerants. Refrigerants are designed to work in specific conditions and specific pressures. Mixing refrigerants together will cause it not to change states and will prevent your system from working correctly.
  • How do I Store R-134a?
    • Storage requirements for R-410A are the same as other refrigerants. Cylinders should be stored in a clean, dry area, and out of direct sunlight. If you have cylinders in the back of your work van ensure that the temperature does not rise above one-hundred and twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Keep valves tightly closed and caps in place when cylinders are not in use. This will prevent any damage to your product, to your facility, or to your vehicle.
  • What Sized Containers Does R-134a Come In?
    • R-134a can come in a variety of container sizes. The most common that we see today are your one to two pound cans or your standard thirty pound light-blue cylinder.

History of R-134a

In order to understand the full history of R-134a we first have to look at it’s predecessor. Before R-134a there was R-12. R-12 was one of first mainstream refrigerants used throughout the world. In fact, R-12 is where the brand name of Freon comes from. In order to trace back it’s origins we have to go all the way back to the 1930’s and a partnership between General Motors and the DuPont company. Through this partnership the two companies were able to invent a safe, reliable, and cost efficient class of refrigerants known as CFCs and HCFCs.

These new classifications of refrigerants were revolutionary. Before these came to the marketplace the world only had access to basic refrigerants such as Hydrocarbons and Carbon Dioxide. These previous refrigerants were either not very efficient,  operated at too high of pressure (Like CO2), or they were just not safe. One of the most popular refrigerants back then was R-717, or Ammonia. Ammonia is toxic when we are exposed to it and having an Ammonia operated refrigerator was a not something consumers wanted inside their home.

Because of the revolution CFC and HCFC refrigerants caused R-12 along with R-11, R-22, and R-502 were found all over the world in various applications. By the time we got into the 1970’s the product was everywhere ranging from automobiles, refrigerators, freezers, ice machines, vending machines, industrial plants, refrigerated trucks, and on and on. 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 were 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. The next refrigerant to go was the CFC refrigerant known as R-502 in the mid 1990’s. As time went by there were other CFC and HCFC refrigerants phased out but the big change didn’t happen until 2010.

R-134a

As I mentioned above 1993 was the beginning of R-134a usage. Since then it has ballooned and grew so that every vehicle around the globe was using it. It was a rare occurrence to find something other than R-134a or R-12 used in vehicles. The only exceptions that you would find were with refrigerated transport trucks such as ice cream trucks. In these instances you would either see a mixture of R-134a and R-404A or a straight R-404A system. Along with R-134a there were many other HFC refrigerants that began to take root. Some of these were R-404A and R-410A. (404A was used for supermarket freezers, ice machines, vending machines, and refrigerated transport. R-410A was used for home and commercial air conditioning.)

It was in the early 2000’s that a new problem was discovered with the currently used HFC refrigerants. Instead of refrigerants harming the Ozone layer the concern became the refrigerants impact on Global Warming. You see refrigerants are seen as a Greenhouse Gas. A Greenhouse Gas is a gas that can be released and get trapped in the atmosphere. These trapped gases cause Global Warming to accelerate. In order to measure a chemical or products risk for Global Warming a new scale was created called Global Warming Potential. The baseline measurement for this scale was Carbon Dioxide, or R-744. CO2’s GWP is one.

The downside of HFC refrigerants is their very high Global Warming Potential. As an example, R-404A has a GWP of three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two times that of Carbon Dioxide. Can you begin to see why these are seen as a problem? It was around 2010 when the push to begin phasing down HFC refrigerants began. Everyone’s first target was R-404A as it had the absolute highest GWP of them all. Depending on the applications 404A was to be replaced with Hydrocarbons, lower GWP HFC refrigerants, or the new HFO refrigerant line from Chemours and Honeywell.

Next in everyone’s sights was R-134a. While 134a didn’t have near as high as a GWP of 404A it still had a large number coming in at one-thousand four-hundred and thirty. At first the push to phase out 134a was stalled as there wasn’t a good substitute out there. After some time the two main refrigerant innovators Honeywell and Chemours came out with a new refrigerant under their HFO line known as R-1234yf. This new refrigerant worked very similar to R-134a but had a GWP of only four. That’s a heck of a difference! The only concern with this new refrigerant was that it was rated as an A2L refrigerant. What that means is that it is slightly flammable. (Remember, R-134a isn’t flammable at all.)

The European Union jumped at the chance for a 134a alternative. They enacted legislation called the ‘MAC Directive,’ to prevent R-134a from being used in new vehicles as of the 2013 model year. While this directive didn’t come out and mention R-134a by name it did state that no refrigerants with a GWP greater then one-hundred and fifty could be used in new automobiles. Europe switched over to 1234yf and the demand for R-134a began to die down. One thing to mention here though is that because 1234yf is slightly flammable there was some debate on rather or not it was a safe product to use. The German car company Daimler ran test after test to ensure it’s safety. In one of these tests Daimler claimed that when the refrigerant tank ruptured during an accident 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 on test. Daimler claimed 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.  Since these first tests there have been numerous court battles and fines issued by the European Union but still Germany persisted against 1234yf. Here is the neat part, Daimler began to pursue a different alternative refrigerant for their automobiles, R-744. Yes, that’s right CO2 for vehicles. Over the years Daimler has been testing and innovating with CO2 and as I write this article today they even have some vehicles on the road with it.

Here in the United States we began going through the same route as Europe, just a little bit behind schedule. In the summer of 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new rule to their SNAP program. This rule called ‘Rule 20,‘ was aimed at phasing down and out HFC refrigerants including R-134a. This regulation aimed at preventing vehicle manufacturers from using R-134a in new vehicles as of model year 2021. These regulations were on the books until August of 2017. At that time a court overturned the EPA’s regulations stating that they had overreached their authority. Since then in the United States there is not a formal R-134a phase out date. This has caused a lot of confusion and unknowns within the automotive refrigerant industry.

1234yf is the future and there isn’t much we can do to get away from it. Auto manufacturers all over the world have begun to switch their new models over to 1234yf. In fact since 2015 the pace of vehicles beings switched over has grown and grown. The chances are high that if you buy a new vehicle today that it’s going to contain 1234yf refrigerant. The question now is when will 134a be phased down within the United States?

Conclusion

Regardless of what happens with these phase outs and phase downs I can be sure of one thing. R-134a is going to be around for a long time. Even if we switch over our new vehicles today there will still be vehicles manufactured last year that will be on the road twenty or thirty years from now. After all, there are still R-12 vehicles out there, right? In closing, R-134a has served it’s purpose. Now it’s time has come and gone. We now need to move towards alternative refrigerants like 1234yf or R-744.

Thanks for reading and I hope that I was able to answer all of your questions and concerns.

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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