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Refrigerant Properties

R-134a.
A can of R-134a refrigerant.

Properties of common refrigerants are shown in the table below.

RefrigerantAlternate NameODPBoiling Point (°C)Boiling Point (°F)
R-22Chlorodifluoromethane0.05-40.9 °C-41.6 °F
R-407CN/ANone-43.6 °C-45.4 °F
R-290PropaneNone-42 °C-43.6 °F
R-410AForane 410aNone-52 °C-61.0 °F
R-134ATetrafluoroethaneNone-26.3 °C-14.8 °F
R-1234yfTetrafluoropropeneNone-30 °C-22.0 °F
R-12Dichlorodifluoromethane1-29.8 °C-21.6 °F

R-134a Overview

R-134a is a common refrigerant used in residential refrigerators around the world, and in automobiles. Most automotive air conditioning systems (except in Australia and possibly other countries) use R134a as a refrigerant.

R-134a took over from its older predecessor R-12 in the early 1990s, and is likely to be replaced soon due to its global warming potential (GWP). However, R-134a is not an ozone depleting refrigerant. A refrigerant with a high GWP has a greenhouse gas-like effect that traps heat, exacerbating climate change. A refrigerant with a ozone-depletion potential (ODP) damages the ozone layer, which is an entirely separate issue from climate change.

R-12 Overview

R-12 is R-134a’s older predecessor, and it was used in most automotive air conditioning systems, as well as in household refrigerators. While R-12 had it’s benefits, it was found to cause ozone layer depletion, leading to a global phase-out which has now been completed.

R-22 Overview

R-22 is commonly used in older household air conditioning systems (as well as some larger commercial HVAC systems), but not automotive ones. It has been for decades, but is now undergoing a global phase-out due to it’s ozone-depletion potential.

In new air conditioners in the United States and some other countries, R-22 has been replaced by it’s successor R-410a, which has no ozone-depletion potential. R-410a does, however, have a global warming potential, and is likely to be phased out as well.

R-290 Overview

R-290 is propane, an extremely common, versatile, and flammable gas used to power ovens, stoves, absorption refrigerators, and also as a refrigerant. Propane’s use as a refrigerant never caught on like R-134a because it is flammable.

Sources:

Honeywell

Engineering Toolbox

Modern Refrigeration And Air Conditioning – 20th edition (G-W Publishing).

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