Environmentally sustainable refrigerants

Environmentally Sustainable Refrigerants

Environmentally sustainable refrigerants can help industries avoid the negative impacts the f-gases have on the ozone layer. Using natural CO2 refrigerants is a great solution as they have one of the lowest Global Warming Potential.

A few decades ago, climate change was perceived as being a long way from becoming a threat for humanity, but that is not the case today. The calamities that have been wreaking havoc in the past years are all signs of the imminent disaster that will bring about the premature end of our planet. While technological advancements have been a catalyst for industry development, we have failed to take into consideration the effect they have on our environment. This is why we now need to take all the actions required to substitute, or eliminate, sources of emissions which contribute to global warming in any direct or indirect way.

Why do we need environmental sustainability in refrigeration?

The refrigeration industry has been one of the top priorities on the agenda of climate activism because many of the chemical agents used in refrigeration have been discovered to be extremely damaging to our environment. In 1989, the majority of the world’s nations signed the Montreal Protocol, after scientists found that hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) refrigerants had damaged the ozone layer in an area above Antarctica.

Refrigeration explained

The process of refrigeration has its roots in the principles of physics in that the energy transfer which takes place when a substance changes state from liquid to gas and vice versa. In the same way, refrigeration systems, be they part of an HVAC system or refrigerator, absorb the unwanted heat energy from one area into a closed system which contains a refrigerant. 

Many variants of the damaging gases have been created under the umbrella name of freons, many of them being discontinued after subsequent findings that they have a negative environmental impact.

Environmentally safe refrigerant types for HVAC 

In the UK, the F-Gas Regulations were put in place in 2008 to limit the use of f-gases. The Regulation (EC) No. 1005/2009 on substances that deplete the ozone layer (the ODS Regulation) and Regulation (EU) No. 527/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases (the F-Gas Regulation) restrict the use of ozone depleting substances (ODS) and fluorinated greenhouse gases (F Gases) respectively, in order to protect the ozone layer and mitigate climate change.

There is a way to limit the negative impact of different refrigerant types used for HVAC and refrigeration equipment, and that is through switching to natural refrigerants. A natural refrigeration system uses the three main refrigerants with the lowest GWP (Global Warming Potential): ammonia, carbon dioxide, and propane. While it might seem strange that carbon dioxide, the biggest cause of global warming, is seen as a sustainable solution, the concentration in which the element is released into the atmosphere differs from the emissions of carbon dioxide produced by the fossil-fuel industry.

Large users of refrigeration such as supermarkets have already started using natural CO2 refrigerants for their systems, proving that they are the best solution even for large-scale use. Unfortunately not many companies are deciding to make the switch to natural refrigerants, despite the fact that these elements have been used for over 100 years. 

At JC Watson, we believe we have a commitment to sustainability and environmentalism when it comes to refrigeration solutions. We are happy to assist you with the installation and maintenance of such systems to ensure you extend the life of your equipment, you save energy and you protect the environment. Contact us today and find out all you need to know about refrigeration.