Would like to here opinions and any experiences on R-22 systems being retrofitted with Hydrocarbon refrigerants. It's my understanding that while they are extremely flammable, they are very efficient and environmentally friendly.
The only way I would use them is with isolation, IE condensing unit outside with a hydronic loop linking it to the house or building. The pressure relief valve would be outside too in case a refrigerant to water leak developed.
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It's flammable only in the presence of oxygen. because it is basically propane it is heavier than air and will settle in low areas. The worry is if it comes into contact with an ignition source.
IMHO it's not very damn likely but as with anything, oddities do occur. I'd bet to say in a few years hydrocarbon refrigerants will become more mainstream here. They are already used overseas and we in the US typically follow what the Euros do. Though, it will probably be used in critical charge and large commercial/industrial situations. I doubt many manufacturers will be using it for residential cooling.
Experience - knowing when to get the hell out of the way and plug your ears.
I think hydrocarbon refrigerants are very good despite their flammability. Lithium batteries are also flammable, but has that stopped us from using them? Moreover, the oil used in refrigeration systems makes all refrigerants flammable.
The real future for air conditioning would be water cycle. Nonflammable, very high efficiency, and zero GWP. The only problem is that the technology to use it isn't quite ready for mass production.
Its illegal to use hydrocarbon based refrigerants in systems that use over 15 ounces of refrigerants.
I did some research on this...
...awhile back. So, on that topic:
Originally Posted by Joe Harper
Actually it's illegal above 150 grams - which is 5.3 oz. That limit is on the approved usage only for self-contained commercial refrigeration. Usage in domestic use is limited to 57 grams - which is 2 oz. NO hydrocarbon is approved for residential & light commercial air-conditioning...or automotive (R-1234yf).
Here's a RSES slideshow on the topic:
Here's at least case of an exploding refrigerator...back in 2009 in Europe:
Here's the EPA’s position on an unacceptable hydrocarbon-based replacement for R-22 in air-conditioning equipment:
Note under paragraph 5 and check the link regarding litigation against another company for processing & distributing an unacceptable R-22 substitute – ES-22A by a company called Eco-safe. I compared the MSDSs between that and EF-22a by Ecofreeeze...and all the number match. Same LEL,UEL, ingredients and auto-ignition temperature. So Ecofreeze may join Eco-safe in that litigious line up before long.
Here's the EPA’s proposed ruling restricting hydroncarbon refrigerant usage. See page 78833& 78834.
Here’s a list of approved substitutes for household & light commercial air-conditioning:
Last edited by ECtofix; 04-23-2014 at 10:31 PM.
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I deal with them on occasion...in industrial process areas. Its nice to have the bottoms of all your 3 way changeover valves tied to a 24 inch flare line to "recover" your refrigerant. R-1270(propylene). You can dump2000 lb in a couple of hours. But having it in a resi application? There is a reason SO2 and Ammonia are no longer used here. But like the old arkla units, a hydronic loop would be fine. I would build in a security feature to shoot flames at copper thieves!!!LOL
Small chillers might in fact be the way it's going. The few water cycle units out there are chillers or package units simply because the very low pressures make a split system impractical.
I also wonder if they might find some additive that can be combined with hydrocarbons to make them less flammable without detracting from its efficiency and environmental advantages.