In our industry, the impact of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants on carbon emissions and their role in climate change remain significant concerns. To combat climate change and decrease HFC emissions, the American Innovation & Manufacturing (AIM) Act mandates the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to gradually reduce the production and usage of HFCs. As we collaborate with industry associations to comprehend the EPA regulation and its implications, manufacturers are gearing up for the transition scheduled for January 1st, 2025. After the implementation, the U.S. Federal Government will enforce the use of refrigerants with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) below 700 for Residential HVAC equipment. Manufacturers will need to devise strategies to adapt their range of products for Residential HVAC systems.

 

What are Hydrofluorocarbons?

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are synthetic gases mainly utilized for cooling and refrigeration purposes. HFCs are potent, short-lived climate pollutants, lasting an average of 15 years in the atmosphere and are significantly more powerful than carbon dioxide, with thousands of times the potency.

Impacts:

The main effects of HFCs stem from their powerful warming influence. Despite being present in small quantities, they play a substantial role in immediate warming as greenhouse gases that are hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. Cooling devices also add to climate emissions due to their significant energy usage. In 2021, space cooling alone represented close to 16% of electricity consumption in the building sector.

Solutions:

HFCs can be best managed by gradually reducing their production and usage while substituting them with eco-friendly options. All HFCs have alternatives that are environmentally friendly or natural. Along with the direct positive impact on the climate, a worldwide phase down of HFCs could bring about indirect advantages. This includes enhanced energy efficiency in refrigerators, air conditioners, and other devices that utilize these substances. These efficiency enhancements could also result in decreased emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants.

There will be a shift from the current R-410A equipment to units designed for upcoming refrigerants with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) below 700 to comply with the forthcoming regulation change.

  • For residential equipment, Trane Technologies’ transition will be towards R-454B, chosen for its blend of safety, sustainability, reliability, and cost-effectiveness. Trane Technologies’ engineers determined that the most eco-friendly and forward-looking alternatives to move away from R-410A were R-454B and R-32, both classified as “A2L” refrigerants.

A2L Differences:

When comparing R-454B and R-32, most criteria are similar or almost identical, including Performance, Toxicity, Flammability, and Servicing. Research indicates that the glide of R-454B is negligible, and no mechanical adjustments are needed to maintain the unit’s intended performance level.

Trane Technologies will be prepared to support both the R-454B and R-32 when installing, servicing, and working on equipment. This also includes equipment designs utilizing R-454B or R-32. Different manufacturers in the marketplace will mostly use R-454B.
“Ultimate Resource Guide,” Trane Technologies, 2024

If you would like to know more about this upcoming change, please contact your TM or register to attend our A2L Refrigerant class.