Low GWP refrigerants: 5 things you must know

  1. Relief to a global concern

Global warming and ozone depletion has been a global concern since the 1970’s. Traditional refrigerants were at the height of these concerns and began being phased out in 1987, giving rise to innovative zero-Ozone Depletion Potential (zero-ODP) and low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants.

  1. CO2 mass and Greenhouse gas

The GWP of a refrigerant is measured because of its direct contribution to climate change. Here’s how it’s calculated:

  • A refrigerant releases a certain gas (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere
  • This expelled gas (with a mass of 1) traps heat
  • Carbon Dioxide (with a mass of 1) also traps heat
  • The amount of trapped heat within the greenhouse gas and the CO2 is then compared
  • This is usually calculated over a period of 100 years

So the lower the GWP value compared to the CO2 value, the better!

  1. ODP versus GWP

Many refrigerants today use chemicals that have zero Ozone Depletion Potential (zero-ODP). This, however, does not mean they have low GWP. If a refrigerant has ODP, it is then assigned a value. This value indicates how strongly the refrigerant depletes the ozone, the strength of the chemical causing ozone degradation. All refrigerants have GWP, but not all have ODP.

  1. Which chemicals should your refrigerant use?

Current refrigerants use Hydrofluorocarbons to mitigate ozone depletion. HFC’s (containing Hydrogen, Fluorine and Carbon chemicals), have zero-ODP. Despite this, they still have GWP – meaning that refrigerants should be used responsibly and continually monitored.

The next generation of refrigerants contain HFO’s (Hydrofluoro-olefins) or an HFC/HFO blend. HFO refrigerants have a lower GWP, are cost effective, energy efficient, non-toxic, only mildly flammable (HFC/HFO blends are non-flammable) and, as with HFC’s, they have zero-ODP.

  1. Bitzer is leading the way

In 2015, Bitzer became the first compressor manufacturer to approve a full range of low GWP refrigerants. HFO/HFC blends R448A and R449A were developed as substitutes for the phased out, high GWP commercial refrigeration gases – R404A and R507A. The substitutes have about a third of the global warming potential of R404A/R507A.


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