The Importance of Ecological Refrigerants

By: Kritika Lalloo

Throughout HVAC history, the phasing-out of refrigerants and the introduction of new refrigerants such as combination blends of two or more refrigerants or using natural refrigerants have become exponential complex when choosing the ideal refrigerant for the application. The main criteria when choosing refrigerants is due to environmental impact therefore each refrigerant is categorised according to its ozone-depleting potential (ODP), global warming potential (GWP), energy efficiency, and life-cycle climate performance (LCCP) values. The lowest value of GWP indicates the most ideal refrigerants to be used in the HVAC Industry:

Table 1: Current data for basic refrigerant GWP (Extracted from CIBSE Journal)


ASHRAE, SANS, GBCSA, CIBSE and other standards ensure that their regulations and safety guidelines are updated to accommodate lower GWP refrigerantsFactors to consider when utilising equipment with lower GWP refrigerants:

  • Toxicity
  • Flammability
  • High working pressures
  • Low intrinsic operating
  • efficiencies
  • Incompatibility with construction materials
  • Cost-effectiveness

Enhanced training for technicians working with these lower GWP refrigerants must also be taken into consideration to ensure safety as well as increase the life span of the equipment when managing these refrigerants effectively.

The market sales have considered reducing the CAPEX of equipment compatible with these lower GWP refrigerants to entice the HVAC industry to utilise it and in reverse to increase CO₂ tax on CAPEX for equipment with higher GWP refrigerants.

End-of-life methods of HVAC systems include:

Recovery of refrigerants in a safe manner and recycled thereafter. If refrigerants cannot be recycled, it must be disposed of in accordance with acceptable regulations.

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