What are Refrigerants?
Starting with the basics, as explained on Refrigerant Recovery Machine, “the refrigerant is an element in the form of gas or liquid, which is used to cool down a particular area in the refrigeration succession.” In other words, a refrigerant helps to capture heat and transfers it out of one space into another, changing from gas to liquid and then back to gas in the cooling process, also known as vapor-compression refrigeration.
History of Refrigerants
For anyone excited about the cooling process, like the J.C. Younger team, or anyone looking for a better understanding of refrigerants, history is always a good place to begin. There is quite a lot to tell, and we’re excited to share an exceptional review from across the pond. “Refrigerants, Past, Present and Future,” by S. Forbes Pearson.
As you discover, “vapour-compression refrigeration can be traced back to Professor William Cullen of Glasgow, who produced ice in 1755 by the evaporation of water at low pressure.” Interestingly, he is also reported to have used the refrigerant, “ethyl ether to produce a reduction in temperature.”
It is reported that “Jacob Perkins, an American citizen, took out a patent in 1834 on a vapour-compression refrigerating system using ethyl ether in a closed circuit.” Interestingly, his patent included “all the elements of the modern vapour-compression system; the compressor, the condenser, the expansion device, and the evaporator,” aka the chiller system.
It is interesting to note that “from this time there began a search for the ideal refrigerant, which has not yet been, and probably never will be, discovered.”
Types of Refrigerant
Referring back to the Refrigerant Recovery Machine, understanding the types of refrigerants is important in the evolution of the refrigerants that are acceptable and used today.
Synthetic means something is not natural, and it was eventually discovered that synthetic refrigerants are harmful to the environment, some far more than others.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were those first introduced due to their qualities being “non-toxic, non-flammable, and non-reactive.” These refrigerants were made up of “chlorine, fluorine, and carbon.” “Upon realization that Earth’s ozone layer was being destroyed by the “leaks” of these gases into our atmosphere, they were “banned in the late 80s because of adverse environmental effects.” R12 was one of these refrigerants that were widely used.
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are those refrigerants that contain “hydrogen, chlorine, fluorine, and carbon.” These synthetic refrigerants proved to not have the threatening effect as CFCs, but another problem was discovered, “greenhouse gases.” These gases are linked to “global warming,” as a result of the “greenhouse effect.” R22, an HCFC, is a well-known chiller refrigerant that is being phased out.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) “refrigerants do not include any particles of chlorine.” Even though these refrigerants are not a threat to our ozone layer, they do affect global warming. When “compared to other refrigerants, it has the lower potential of global warming.” These refrigerants are used and are “in demand by refrigerant manufacturers because of its environment suitability.” R134a and R410A are two refrigerants that are widely used in the chiller industry.
Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) and Global Warming Potential (GWP)
Not only are we trying to avoid any further damage to our ozone layer, but we must also avoid producing gases to affect global warming. “In 1987, an international agreement banned production of certain chlorine containing refrigerants,” as stated on YouTube, “Selecting Refrigerants R12 R22 R134a R410A.” (This is an excellent and informative video.) Hence, the move towards natural refrigerants.
Natural refrigerants “have zero ozone depletion and negligible effects on global warming.” The best quality of natural refrigerants is that “they are quite inexpensive as compared to other refrigerants.” There are more natural refrigerants than you might think, and you can see the entire list on RefrigerantHQ.com.
Off the subject just a bit, and just in case you’re thinking about it. Krypton is not relative to the Kryptonite that paralyzes Superman. We thought it was a good time to mention it since we do believe we are the superheroes of the chiller industry.
The JCY Team Helps You Select the Right Refrigerant
We have given you quite a lot to learn and to think about in this blog. It is very important to us, at J.C. Younger (JCY), that we do our part to protect the environment, just like our superheroes. There is quite a lot to consider when determining the right refrigerant for an application.
The JCY team has been dedicated to manufacturing and remanufacturing chillers since 1956, and we have worked with the changes our environment’s sustainability requires. We’re here to answer any questions when it comes to selecting the right refrigerant to keep your application efficiently operating. Just like all our superheroes, it doesn’t matter when you need us, we’re here 24/7 to take care of you.