Thanks to legislation and innovation, the HVAC industry continues to become greener. Another refrigerant is now being used to replace ozone damaging R22 refrigerant. In July 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorized the sale and import of the refrigerant R458A under its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. It will act as a replacement for R22, R404A, and R507A in commercial HVAC, industrial process, and retail refrigeration equipment. 1
Why Is R22 Being Replaced by Other Refrigerants?
R22 was one of the most commonly used hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in the industry. The increased focus on the protection of the ozone layer and the prevention of global warming has led to the need for a full phase-out of this substance. The EPA rolled out a 10-year plan for the complete removal of R22 from the market. First, this entailed prohibiting the production and import of the refrigerant in new units in 2010. Then, the goal became to eventually ban the substance entirely by 2020.
R22 Replacement Options: What Are the Benefits of R458A?
As a replacement for R22, R458A offers several key benefits for technicians and customers: it doesn’t have the same impact on the ozone layer as the “bad” HCFCs that are being phased out and is easily accessible to residential consumers.
R458A also serves as a true R22 replacement; no further modifications are required for use. R458A works to improve the overall performance of refrigeration and HVAC systems while reducing energy consumption. The R22 replacement has a low Global Warming Potential (GWP), which is the measurement used by the EPA to determine the extent that substances could contribute to global warming.
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Other R22 Replacement Options
As the R22 phase-out continues, it will be important for HVAC technicians to know which refrigerants are suitable replacements and which are not. For example, some refrigerants like OZ12 are flammable, R403B and others have high GWP ratings, and Hexafluropropylene (HFP) and similar alternatives are toxic. 2
Importance of Staying Informed
Understanding the Clean Air Act and why some refrigerants are legal and acceptable to use—and why some are not—could help you make the best choices for your customers and ensure that you stay compliant with the EPA. Students that are studying to become an HVAC technician could very well work with this new refrigerant when they enter the field.
1 – http://www.achrnews.com/articles/132906-epa-authorizes-bluon-energy-tdx-20-refrigerant-under-snap
2 – https://www.epa.gov/snap/unacceptable-substitute-refrigerants