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EPA Approves Environmentally Friendly Refrigerants

This March, under the authority of the Clean Air Act, the EPA has approved more refrigerants that they feel are environmentally friendly for use in HVAC applications. This final rule expands the list of SNAP-approved substitutes to include more low-GWP alternatives that can replace both the ozone-layer-depleting substances and high-GWP HFCs. The approved substitutes have GWPs that range from 3 to 675 and can replace older compounds with GWPs between 1,400 and 4,000. 

After receiving input from the industry, environmental groups and others, the EPA approved additional low-GWP hydrocarbon refrigerants, subject to use conditions, in the following refrigeration and air-conditioning applications:

•Ethane in very low-temperature refrigeration and in non-mechanical heat transfer;

•Isobutane in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers) in vending machines;

•Propane in household refrigerators, freezers, or combination refrigerators and freezers, in vending machines, and in room air-conditioning units;

•The hydrocarbon blend R-441A in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers), in vending machines and in room air-conditioning units; and

•HFC-32 (diflouromethane) in room air-conditioning units.    

In addition to these climate-friendly alternatives, the EPA is also exempting all of these substances (except HFC-32) from the Clean Air Act venting prohibition since current evidence suggests that their venting, release or disposal does not pose a threat to the environment.

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