Refrigerant gas is the substance that transfers heat in a refrigeration system. It does that as it flows in the system in a process called refrigeration cycle.
The refrigeration system is a closed tube system comprising the compressor pump, condenser and evaporator tube.
At the evaporator, the refrigerant absorbs heat that’s around the evaporator tube for it to boil. The refrigerant then rejects the heat at the condenser tube. So it’s a continuous transfer of heat from the evaporator to the condenser. However, the process is a reverse in a heat pump.
The evaporator is inside the conditioned room (for a mini split system). But the condenser is outside the conditioned room.
The refrigeration industry attribute invention and development of refrigeration systems to different pioneers. But one remarkable recorded invention is the Carrier air conditioner brand. Willis Haviland Carrier invented Carrier AC in 1902.
Since the invention of the refrigeration system, the refrigeration industry has used organic and inorganic refrigerants. R12 and R22 were once famous CFC and HCFC refrigerants. We used CFC R12 refrigerant in refrigerators and car air conditioners. But the industry terminated the use of R12. R22 which we charge into house air conditioners is on phasedown. The reason for R12 and R22 phaseout is that both have high Ozone depleting potential.
Countries have different phaseout implementation timeline. In the US, R22 phaseout will be complete in 2020 and in Australia, 2029. Other developing countries could take longer.
When industry players marked CFC and HCFC refrigerants for eradication, R134a replaced R12. R404a, R410a, and R407c are alternatives for R22.
HFC Refrigerant Gas phaseout
But again, the refrigeration industry is in another shakeup. Research reveals that R134a and current R22 alternatives have High Global Warming Potential. The industry is again phasing out HFCs. We see organic refrigerants and other environment-friendly refrigerants as the replacement.
Stakeholders justify the regular changes in refrigerant gas because production and consumption are in millions of metric tons. If there is no check on environmental impact GWP, refrigerants can cause havoc.