Sunday, December 18, 2011

EPA Approves Flammable Hydrocarbon Refrigerant Use

On December 14, EPA issued a final ruling approving 3 flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants for use in small domestic and commercial refrigeration appliances. The three hydrocarbon refrigerants approved as acceptable substitutes are propane, isobutane, and R-441A. Hydrocarbons will now be allowed in domestic household refrigerators, freezers and window air-conditioners in the USA. Isobutane R-600a and a proprietary blend R-441A. are approved for use in household refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerators and freezers. R-441A is a patented blend of ethane, propane, butane and isobutene. Both its ozone depletion potential and its global warming potential are 0. It is also considerably more energy efficient than R-134a. Flammable refrigerants have been used for many years in small refrigeration appliances in other countries, including China. One of the most likely immediate effects of this ruling is to allow importation of refrigeration appliances charged with hydrocarbon refrigerant. Propane is approved for use in stand-alone retail food refrigerators and freezers.  There are restrictions on the use of these refrigerants due to their high flammability.
1. They me only be used in new equipment specifically designed for their use.
2. the appliances must meet the UL Standard 250 for household refrigeration  or UL Standard 471 for retail food refrigeration.
3. The quantity of refrigerant in a refrigerator or freezer shall not exceed 57 grams (2.0 ounces) in the household refrigeration end-use or 150 grams or (5.3 ounces) in the retail food refrigeration end-use.
4. The appliances must be marked with designated flammability warnings.
5. The piping and service ports must be painted red with a specific red color : pantone 185.
6. The service aperture must differ from regular non-flammable refrigerant service apertures.
7. These refrigerants may not be sold for use as a refrigerant in containers designed to contain less than 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of refrigerant.
To read more check out one of the following links:
Draft of Final Ruling
Supermarket News Article
ACR News Article

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