Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of HarcourtHealth.com and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.

A refrigerant is any substance that helps in cooling thus used as a component in the refrigeration process in refrigerators together with other components like compressors. It could be found in two different states; liquid or gas. For air conditioners, the refrigerant is wrapped inside copper coils. It absorbs the heat from dry air and changes from gas which is in low pressure to a liquid that is in high pressure and hence the essence of the compressors. The components in the conditioner are used to send the refrigerant outside where a fan is used to blow the hot dry air over the copper coils for the cooling process.

This cooling helps the refrigerant that was in high pressure liquid to become low pressure gas. Another fan from the inside is now responsible for blowing the air over the coils all over again to distribute the cold air into the building.

Refrigeration is the process of subjecting food, drinks, organs and other components to extremely low temperatures in order to preserve them by inhibiting the existence of bacteria. A refrigerator is an electrical appliance that is used in the refrigeration process.

Chlorodifluoromethane which is commonly known as R22 has for the longest time been used as a refrigerant in refrigerators and air conditioners. There are so many disadvantages that are associated with R22 thus leading to it being banned in various states. For the owners of the appliances that use this component as a refrigerant, they are advised to look out for any leaks from these appliances to help in cubing the disadvantages that are realized by the same. These disadvantages are:

Environmental Degradation

This is one of the most important reasons as to why R22 is being eliminated. The chlorine component in the refrigerant is responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer. This layer is important for the protection of earth life from dangerous UV (Ultra Violet) radiations of the sun. Destruction of this layer means that living things are exposed to the effects of the UV radiations that include the damage of the eye (Melanoma) and also skin cancer. This poses a great deal of danger of the life expectancy of living beings by causing health problems and also death.

Chlorine component

This component in R22 is the main reason behind all its dangers. The combination of the chlorine component with the air we breathe bring forth a lot of challenges in breathing that in most cases do lead to suffocation because of the problems that have been presented to the respiratory system.

Plant life

Plants are important to the environment in terms of preservation and also are the source of all food chains. The presence of chlorine in plant life means that the whole food chain is at great danger. The components that are taken from the plants by animals cause a lot of problems to digestion and also immune systems making these animals more vulnerable to other diseases because of the weak immune systems. Even the death of the same plants because of the harmful components are a greater threat to the environments even compared to the chlorine components.

Environmental protection institutions in different states are charged with the responsibility of defining the laws that govern the use of refrigerants for refrigerators and also air conditioners in their particular states or regions. These laws include:

Venting

These institutions prohibit intentional release of the refrigerant into the air by recommending little-loss fittings to be used with air conditioners to prevent the same thus help in preservation of the air.

Recycling

The institutions also urge technicians to recycle and reuse refrigerants if they cannot dispose them responsibly as required by the environmental laws defined by in these states or also the regions.

Allowed leak period

Most of these institutions have predefined periods of times that leaks from appliances are allowed into the environment under which action should be taken failure to which strict laws apply.

Purchasing laws

The purchase of refrigerants is not just open to the public but is only allowed to companies that have heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) licenses. The technicians from these companies are the only ones that are allowed to interact with refrigerants.

Disposal

These institutions do define ways in which the refrigerants can be disposed that are safe to the environment. If this and all the other laws that are defined above are not adhered to with regards to use of refrigerants, the strict penalties that are attached to the acts are implemented.

Following the dangers that are caused by R22, there have been a number of proposals for more suitable replacements that have been put forward, some which are already being implemented, to completely eliminate the use of R22 though in phases:

Total System Replacement Option

This involves completely eliminating the systems that use R22 and replacing them with updated systems that are more efficient and effective. This option is applicable when the new systems are not compatible with the old systems. This option is also used when the replacement components cannot be used over existing R22. Only the system using POE oil or M099 instead of mineral oil can allow the replacement of only R22 component to used cheaper component like R407C.

Replacement of indoor and outdoor units

It involves the use of existing infrastructure but only changing the refrigerant component to a safer one. These solutions are offered by most manufacturers to make use of already existing infrastructure. Depending on the preferred appliances, the companies are able to replace only outdoor units and remain with the rest of the infrastructure.

‘Drop-in’ Refrigerants

They emulate the functionalities of R22 but with reduced effects on the environment. This however is a long term replacement as it requiring reengineering of the air conditioning and the refrigeration process. This means that this option is the most expensive as compared to the rest. In this case, the RS-44b (R453a) is the most common method that is used with this replacement option.

It is important to understand different components of the different options so as to know what refrigerant replaces r22. It is also an important to realize that mixing of the refrigerants is not allowed as it leads to multiple levels of contamination hence ineffective.