Natural refrigerants, our alternative
Every company in this day and age has the possibility to modify their activities that are harmful to the people and environment around them. One example? Putting a stop to the use of synthetic gas refrigerants, which worsen the greenhouse effect.
Those of you who follow us know that Euroklimat has been dedicated itself to finding alternatives for its industrial refrigeration systems with a reduced impact on the climate. This alternative is called R290, a natural refrigerant commonly known as Propane. We’ve tried it out, and we know it works. In fact, we can comfortably guarantee both the efficiency and the safety of R290 technology.
But R290 is only one of the natural alternatives that we’ve got at our disposal.
What are natural refrigerants?
Natural refrigerants are used for industrial refrigeration, heating, air conditioning and ventilation. They are substitutes for other gases that are much more serious pollutants, such as F-Gases: hydrofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons. These F-gases lie at the foundation of a many refrigeration systems. F-Gases are harmful because they weaken the stratospheric ozone layer, our defense against solar rays.
As we mentioned above, there are other gases with refrigerating properties that are non-synthetic and sometimes already found in nature. Here’s the complete list:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) [R-744] used in the automotive industry, an asphyxiative gas that has to operate at the highest pressure of all commonly used refrigerants
- Ammonia (NH3) [R-717] the refrigerant most used in industrial refrigeration and absorption refrigerators, formerly the primary refrigerant in home refrigerators, a highly toxic gas
- Petroleum-derived hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants, all are flammabl
- Methane (CH4) [R-50]
- Ethane (CH3CH3) [R-170]
- Propane (CH3CH2CH3) [R-290]
- Ethylene (CH2CH2) [R-1150]
- n-butane (CH3(CH2)2CH3) [R-600]
- Isobutane (CH3CH(CH3)2) [R-600a]
- Propylene (CH3CHCH2) [R-1270]
- Pentane (CH3CH2CH2CH2CH3) [R-601]
- Isopentane (CH(CH3)2CH2CH3) [R-601a]
- Cyclopentane ((CH2)5)
- Oxygen compounds
- Diethyl ether / ethyl ether (“ether”) (CH3CH2OCH2CH3) [R-610] (from dehydrogenation of ethanol; extremely flammable)
- Methyl formate (HCOOCH3) [R-611] (from carbonylation of methanol, which usually both come from syngas; or by condensation of methanol; highly flammable).
- Dimethyl ether (CH3OCH3) [R-E170] (From dehydration of methanol which comes from syngas, natural gas or from some biofuels; highly flammable, medium toxicity)
- Nitrogen compounds (extremely rarely used in refrigeration systems)
- Methylamine (CH3NH2) [R-630] (from reaction of ammonia and methanol; medium toxicity; controlled substance).
- Ethylamine (CH3CH2(NH2)) [R-631] (from reaction of ammonia and ethanol; very toxic).
- Elemental gases (mostly for ultra low temperature uses, mostly in laboratories or some superconductive devices)
- Noble gases (also for ultra low temperature use, or for use as gases itself)
Many of these gases are toxic and flammable, which is why they can’t be used lightly.
Which sectors use them
Do any of those names ring a bell? Some of them might sound familiar. Indeed, these gases are used in a wide variety of industrial sectors.
For example, there’s carbon dioxide (CO2) in automobile air conditioners. It has zero impact on the ozone and is neither toxic nor flammable.
Ammonia (NH3) is a long-standing veteran of industrial refrigeration and absorption refrigerators because it’s a high-performance gas. It has a high coefficient of energy efficiency due to its latent heat of evaporation. Because it’s toxic and flammable, it is only used in large factories, supermarkets, and sports facilities.
Hydrocarbons are key in domestic refrigeration (fridges and freezers), mainly because they have excellent heat transfer properties and do not contain fluorine or chlorine.
The energy efficiency of natural refrigerants
Natural refrigerants have the power to determine the energy efficiency of an entire system of refrigeration. This is due to their thermodynamic properties, connected with the low percentage of dispersion that takes place during energy conversion.
The closer that percentage gets to zero, the higher the energy efficiency.
Natural = higher costs?
The answer is no, if we consider that an initial investment can be made up within 2-5 years
Natural vs. synthetic: it’s up to us
Synthetic refrigerants have been made specially for industrial aims, and they don’t exist anywhere else in nature. The most well-known include chlorofluorocarbons (H)CFC and hydrofluorocarbons HFC: all greenhouse gases and bitter enemies of the ozone layer.
As you can see, we’ve got natural alternatives. And these alternatives are available for those who, whether they like it or not, have to use gases to run their industrial plants.
Will we be able to change the direction our companies are heading down? It’s up to us.