Refrigeration and Air conditioning manufacturers may be able to take more gradual steps towards the eventual changeover from HFCs (e.g. R404a) to Hydrocarbon refrigerants such as R290a (propane) and R600a (Isobutane).
HFC refrigerants such as R404a were developed in response to the Montreal Protocol to eliminate Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) but were found, over time, to have significant Global Warming Potential (GWP). New HFO blends such as R448a (Honeywell N40), R449a (Dupont XP40), and R513a (Dupont XP10) have been developed to meet the EPA’s new environmental standards under the SNAP program (see federal register), since they have lower GWP and will work as replacements in commercial freezer and air conditioning systems. These new HFO refrigerants offer a significant improvement over R404a, which is clearly the primary target for elimination. Although some HFOs have an even higher GWP than R134a, when calculating the overal environmental impact including energy efficiency, they come out ahead (as in Life Cycle Climate Performace – LCCP). See table below. The new HFO refrigerants have the added benefit of helping manufacturers to meet the new energy efficiency standards that come into effect in 2017 since the compressors are smaller and therefore use less energy.
HC refrigerants such as propane (R290) have zero GWP and are clearly where the market will eventually end up in the years to come. VTech Refrigerant Charging Equipment are designed for both HFO and HC gases.