Refrigerant Options in the Near Future
Regulation (EU) no. 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases (the F-gas regulation) and today's research in the refrigeration and air-conditioning technology and heat pumps are increasingly focused on the use of natural refrigerants such as ammonia, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons. Besides having zero ozone depletion potential, refrigerants should have their global warming potential as low as possible. In a way, the said Regulation promotes the use of sustainable technologies and sustainable natural refrigerants in refrigeration systems. The paper gives an overview, application and basic properties of refrigerants in refrigeration equipment and heat pump systems divided in different categories. The emphasis is on natural refrigerants that are gradually being used as a replacement for refrigerants from the hydrofluorocarbon group. Furthermore, the hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant group is analyzed in the context of F-gas regulation. Also, the hydrofluoro-olefin refrigerant group, which is currently being used in automotive cooling systems, is listed. The mentioned refrigerant group is widely recognized as the next generation of refrigerants due to its favourable environmental properties and cost-effectiveness. The paper also contains total equivalent warming impact number calculations of cooling plants for cooling buildings with a known cooling load. The comparison is given for different types of refrigerants with the purpose of better understanding their ecological impact. Results indicate that the natural refrigerants are the best option since their ecological impact is negligible.