Is it time to stop using R404A?

t’s one of the most popular refrigerants, but switching away from R404A will boost operators’ environmental credentials and profit, contends Ray Gluckman of SKM Enviros

During the last 10 to 15 years R404A has become one of the most widely used refrigerants.  It was introduced in the mid-1990s as a replacement for ozone depleting refrigerants including CFCs (such as R12 and R502) and more recently as a replacement for HCFCs (such as R22).  In the supermarket sector it has become the dominant refrigerant across Europe for both chilled and frozen food refrigeration.  It is also used widely in other commercial systems, for industrial refrigeration and for cold storage.

I have often wondered why R404A became so successful, because it is not a particularly good refrigerant!  It filled an urgent gap during the 1990s and it was well marketed.  End-users and refrigeration contractors became familiar with the fluid and have continued using it as the “refrigerant of choice” in many different applications.  It is still used in many new systems, even though there are other better refrigerants now available.  Now is the time to stop being complacent about refrigerant choice and to use better alternatives.  Switching away from R404A has the potential to quickly and cost effectively help the environment and reduces the running costs.  A cost effective alternative is available for all new refrigeration systems and for most existing ones.

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