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Refrigerant Types

Heating and HVAC
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Air conditioner refrigerant is a “behind-the-scenes” actor in a central cooling system, working like this to keep your house cool: a refrigerant chills the evaporator coil. Warm air from the house is drawn into the evaporator coil which has been chilled by cooled refrigerant and the heat is removed from the indrawn air. This cool air is then blown out into the house via ductwork. The now warmed refrigerant circulates out to the condenser coil (outside the home) where a fan in the unit sucks in outside air to cool the returned refrigerant.

Without refrigeration, which is the process of removing heat from a substance, air conditioning would not be possible. Below is a list of different types of refrigerant:

Ammonia, Sulfur Dioxide, Air – These are three older types of refrigerant that are effective, but no longer in widespread use. Ammonia and sulfur dioxide are highly toxic. Air is non-toxic, but it’s somewhat common usage in the early days of refrigeration ended when more efficient chemical refrigerants were invented. However, due to environmental concerns, interest in air as a refrigerant is currently experiencing an upswing.

Water – Another safe and non-toxic option, and is used as the refrigerant in evaporative coolers (also known as “swamp coolers”).

Freon – This is the commercial trade name for a group of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC’s, and also HFC’s) refrigerants manufactured by the DuPont Company. After World War II, versions of this refrigerant were also manufactured to be used in aerosol spray cans and as solvents.

These refrigerants are very effective and well-regarded as nontoxic and nonflammable substances. However, their widespread use has been discovered to contribute to the depletion of the Earth’s ozone layer. Because of this, most are no longer used as air conditioner coolants in new systems.

Different types of Freon are distinguished by their differing boiling points, and are designated Freon-11, Freon-12, etc, with Freon-22 (also known as R-22) being the most common type in residential applications. The manufacture of Freon-22 refrigerant for new systems will be banned on January 1, 2010, though it will still be produced for existing systems. The production of Freon-22 is to be phased-out completely by 2020.

Puron, Genetron AZ-20, and Suva 410A – These are the commercial trade names for a refrigerant that are acceptable for use in new air conditioning systems. Like R-22, R-410A is a hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant, but it does not contribute to ozone depletion.

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