HCFC refrigerants

Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerant gases are considered the 2nd generation of fluorinated refrigerant gases (GF). They were developed as a more environmentally friendly alternative to CFCs, as they have a lower ozone depletion potential (ODP) than CFCs, although they are still greenhouse gases with a medium/high global warming potential (GWP).

HCFCs are compounds formed from hydrogen, chlorine, fluoride and carbon atoms. Since they contain hydrogen, they are less chemically stable than their CFC predecessors, and therefore have a lower ODP. The ODP of HCFCs is around 10% of that of CFCs.

One of the most commonly used products is R-22, due to the wide range of potential applications and temperatures. It is a highly valued product by technicians as it is pure, has good thermodynamic properties (refrigeration capacity and COP) and can be used at low pressures.

Several HCFC solutions, usually blends, were designed to be used as simple and direct drop-in conversions for existing equipment that used CFC, such as R401A, R-401B, R-402A, R-402B, R-403B, R-408A, R-409A, R-416A, DI-36 and DI-44.

Since they are also affected by the Montreal Protocol, HCFCs were seen as transition gases towards HFCs, which do not destroy the ozone layer so were thus designated the definitive solutions when they appeared on the market.

In Europe, the use and sale of HCFCs is regulated by the European Regulation 1005-2009, of 16 September 2009, on ozone depleting substances (ODS). Their use as a virgin product for maintenance operations was banned in 2010, only allowing for the use of recycled or regenerated products up to 31 December 2014. They are still very commonly used outside of Europe, although they are in the process of being phased out.

What is the best alternative to HCFCs?

Developed countries introduced HFC refrigerants in the 1990s as an alternative to HCFCs, and HFC and HFO solutions with a low GWP are now being used.

Developing countries are now faced with the following dilemma: whether to use well known and thoroughly tested refrigerants, such as HFCs, or the newer HFCs and HFC+HFO blends with a low global warming potential (GWP). The factors that need to be taken into account to resolve this dilemma are the GWP, the availability, the price and the thermodynamic properties (refrigeration capacity and COP), to achieve good energy efficiency.

Gas Servei will accompany you throughout this transition from products that affect the ozone layer and will provide you with technical advice so you can choose the alternatives with the least environmental impact and the best energy efficiency.