A fluid used in air conditioners and refrigerators to take heat from the contents of a refrigerator and throw the heat out in the atmosphere. On absorbing heat, the liquid refrigerant changes to gas and back to liquid after being compressed with a compressor.
Chlorofluorocarbons were the most used refrigerants but were later on replaced with the hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs). The most common of the HCFCs is the R-22 with a large percentage of Air conditioners in most countries like India and the United States using it.
R22 refrigerant is also known as Hydrochlorofluorocarbon 22 in its chemical name which is usually used in heat pumps, car Air Conditioning systems and other refrigeration equipment. It has been used for years to remove heat from a space with in Europe alone, about 100,000 tonnes of this R22 gas being used. It has been used for many years in Air Conditioning (AC) systems, but a ban was put on its use which was to take effect from 2015. The fact that its use is now illegal is expected to lead to the increase in expenses brought about by the rise in air conditioning costs. Unless the oil being used in the Air conditioning systems is POE oil, it’s not advisable for the customer to use a R22 replacement refrigerant in that system. So, what is to be used to replace this R22 refrigerant?
With the manufacturers trying to fight global warming, they created a new set of refrigerants known as Hydro Fluoro Carbons (HFCs) where they removed chlorine from it. The R-410A is the most commonly used HFC in air conditioners. This set of new refrigerants is not perfect either as it too has the ability to global warming; but it can be termed as better than the HCFC refrigerants as they do not deplete/ affect the Ozone layer. There also are a few more HFCs that are used like; The R-134A which is used in refrigerators and the R-32 which is used in air conditioners. Another set of refrigerants and one that is referred to as one of the most environmental friendly refrigerant are the Hydrocarbons (HCs). The HCs most available are the: Propane (R-290) and the Iso-Butane (R-600A). These two HCs have no ozone depletion potential, they have the lowest potential for global warming and they have no Halogen particles in them. It is however important to note that, given the fact that the two are Hydrocarbons, they are highly flammable as they have high energy efficiency. They therefore should be handled with great care to avoid the occurrence of any accidents.
The product closest to the R22 refrigerant in the United States market is the RS 44b. This product is not new in the worldwide market as it has been in the world market for a period of around 5 years but where it is branded as RS 70. This RS-44b can be described as the most suitable replacement for R-22 in any existing industrial air conditioning and refrigeration systems and also in residential and commercial systems. A test showed that RS-44 has lower head pressures and also lower discharge temperatures as compared to the R22. This lower discharge temperatures experienced in the RS-44 use provide great operating benefits.RS-44b(R453a) has the following advantages:
- Lower energy consumption
- Produced in several states hence its availabilities in Spain, Texas and the U.K.
- Similar flow rate as the R22
- Operates at a near cooling capacity of the now banned R22 in all its applications
- RS-44b is well compatible with all materials used refrigeration systems.
- Does not contain any chlorine in its components hence cannot affect the Ozone layer.
- No need to change the lubricant as the RS-44b is compatible alkybenzene and the polyolester lubricants.
- Given that the RS-44b is blend, its required of it to be charged into systems in liquid form unlike in its gaseous form.
RS-45 is another refrigerant replacement for R22 which replaces it at both the higher and lower temperature applications and can also be used for Air conditioning and also low temperature refrigeration. RS-45 is also of great benefits specially in the cases of flooded systems. This is since it has a similarity with the R22 in terms of similar discharge pressure, is nonflammable identical compression pressure. This helps in reducing the risk of oil degradation.
RS-52 can also be used as a replacement for R22 given its high capacity in low temperatures. It had however been created to replace the R502, R402A, R403B, R408A and the R411B which are interim ozone depleting blends. The RS-52’s high capacity at low temperatures is its main feature plus advantage as a refrigerant and can also be used in flooded systems.
But after going through most of the available R22 refrigerant replacements and their advantages as compared to the R22 itself, we come across another refrigerant that is used to replace R22. This refrigerant is known as R-407c and has the following traits: -cheap when compared to the other R22 replacement refrigerants.
- It has a very low loss in capacity as compared to R22.
R407C is that refrigerant that is preferred most in replacing R22 in air conditioning systems if those systems are using POE oil. Using this R407C as refrigerant replacements also comes with other advantages like: – In case of a future leaking of the system, small amounts of money would be used to settle the costs incurred in settling the expenses.
It is also very important for all to note that the other alternative refrigerants have the following points to note about: -They are Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) hence non-ozone depleting.
- One should never mix refrigerants with R22 or with any other gas.
- The only time that they are best suited for heat pumps and condensers is when out of Warranty.
- If one replaces the original oil present in the manufacturer’s system using a r22 refrigerant replacement makes the manufacturer’s warranty void. It would therefore be much advisable for one to settle for more environmentally friendly systems that have no effects on the ozone layer than on the use of even recycled R22.