Hydrocarbon (HC) Refrigerants are natural, non-toxic refrigerants that have no ozone depleting properties and minimal global warming potential. The most efficient and environmentally safe refrigerants in the world are the five natural refrigerants; Air, Water, Carbon Dioxide, Ammonia and Hydrocarbons. We call them ‘The Famous Five’.
All existing Fluorocarbon Refrigerants will be phased out in some shape or form because of their ozone depleting or global warming potential. However, there is an answer created by nature, not by a chemical company – Hydrocarbon Refrigerants.
Many European manufacturers of commercial and domestic refrigeration equipment have changed to HC technology. Every year approximately 8 million hydrocarbon based refrigerators are produced in Europe, each using around 30% less energy than refrigerators using fluorocarbon refrigerants. These include companies such as Bosch, Electrolux, Miele, Whirlpool and AEG. The large supermarket chain in the UK called Sainsburys has built six new stores using hydrocarbon refrigerants to refrigerate the entire store
In Asia LG produces over 11000 refrigerators per day using HC refrigerant. In China, hydrocarbon refrigerants are used by 3 out 4 of the largest refrigerator manufacturers.
Are Hydrocarbon Refrigerants Safe?
Hydrocarbon Refrigerants are flammable but are safe to use if handled correctly. It should be remembered that millions of tonnes of hydrocarbons are used safely every year throughout the world for cooking, heating, powering vehicles, and as aerosol propellants for hairsprays, deodorants, whipped cream and cooking sprays etc.
In refrigeration and airconditioning systems which use chemical refrigerants, oil mixes with the refrigerants and travels around the system. All these chemical refrigerants become flammable due to the oil vapour content of the gases when being discharged from the systems. Most chemical refrigerants produce toxic by-products and poisonous gases following accidental release in the presence of an adequate heat source.
Procedures and standards have been developed and adopted to ensure the safe use of Hydrocarbon Refrigerants. Australian Standard AS 1677-1998 includes comprehensive procedures for the safe use of all refrigerants including hydrocarbons.
Hydrocarbon Refrigerants do not spontaneously combust on contact with air. Three elements need to coincide. 1) There needs to be a release of hydrocarbons. 2) The Hydrocarbon needs to mix with the correct proportion of air, the range of flammability being between 2 and 10%. Outside of these limits combustion cannot occur. 3) An ignition source exceeding 440 degrees C must be present. If one of these three elements is eliminated, combustion cannot occur.
At Coolquip safety is our first priority. We provide and maintain a healthy working environment at all times. We ensure adequate control of health and safety risks associated with any use of hydrocarbon refrigerants.