HVACR operators are seeking out refrigerant solutions that strike the right balance between safety concerns, efficiency, and environmental considerations.
In An Expert’s Take on So-Called “Naturals”, globalFACT executive director Jordan Smith met with refrigeration expert Dr. Richard Powell to discuss what all operators should consider before switching to so-called “natural” refrigerants:
globalFACT: Is safety the only consideration for operators before switching to a refrigerant such as ammonia, CO2, or hydrocarbons?
Dr. Powell: For an equipment supplier, installer, or operator, the first consideration must be safety, but it’s not the only consideration.
Second must be environmental impact. A so-called “natural” refrigerant manufactured in a chemical plant may have an effect on the environment that is not immediately obvious. For example, feedstock methane is converted into ammonia and carbon dioxide. It’s necessary in production, but it’s a greenhouse gas that leaks during transportation, causing a negative environmental impact the end user is unaware of.
Third must be efficiency. Does it meet the user’s requirements for performance and cost? Don’t make a switch without understanding the extra responsibilities a new refrigerant requires you to take on. Any of these factors could rule out a “natural” refrigerant for particular installation, even if it passed the other two with flying colors.