Hydrocarbon Refrigerant; A Case Study

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As EPA & Snap regulations start to take effect there will be a push towards CO2 & Hydrocarbon natural refrigerants in Chicago, North America & beyond.

CO2 and Hydrocarbon Refrigerant have been in use throughout much of Europe for years and both have been proven to work well. There are major changes on the way for the HVAC and Refrigeration industries

in the Chicago area and nation wide. R22 Refrigerant is in the final stages of phase out. This gas is still very prevalent, especially in commercial refrigeration and HVAC equipment. There are now proposed regulations that would also phase out two other hugely popular refrigerants. The two gasses next on the EPA hit list are the Hydrofluorocarbons called R134A and R404A. Both of these gasses make up most of the charges on commercial refrigeration equipment that has been built within the last 15 years. This presents a major problem both for refrigeration contractors and the end users.

In an effort to stay ahead of the looming phaseout of all hydrofluorocarbon based gasses, Northeast Cooling is actively seeking education and experience in dealing with natural refrigerants such as CO2 and Hydrocarbon gas. These gasses are both likely to be the main ones used in the future due to minimal ozone depletion as well as good performance and reliability.

We are currently working with Priority Cool Refrigerants and their gases called HC-12a/134+ and HC-22a/502a. This gas has been specifically designed to easily replace R22, R12, R134, R502 and all substitutes of these refrigerants. In an effort to become familiar with the retrofit procedures we have acquired a tank of this product and have already done one successful retrofit. We plan on doing several more conversions of R22, R134A & R404A refrigeration equipment this coming Spring of 2015. These gasses offer many other benefits besides less ozone depletion. The following are a few examples.

  • lowered head pressure extends life of equipment
  • lowered system pressures reduces power consumption by up to 20% or more
  • lower evaporator coil temperatures
  • reduced service calls

The following is a step by step retrofit procedure that we used to convert a keg cooler from R134A gas to HC-12a/134+ Hydrocarbon.

1: Recover / weigh out original charge of R134A gas.

Hydrocarbon gas retrofit
Recovery of R134A refrigerant

2: Replace filter and pull a deep vacuum on system.

Pulling a vacuum for filter replacement
Replace filter & pull deep vacuum on system

3: Weigh in Hydrocarbon gas at approximately 35% of original nameplate charge. Adjust if necessary after checking amps and Super Heat.

Retrofitting R124A cooler to hydrocarbon refrigerant
Weigh in Hydrocarbon HC12a/134+ at approximately 35% of nameplate charge

This whole procedure took around 1.5 hours including an hour of pulling vacuum. It was incredibly easy to convert this cooler and we saw a drop in amps as well. The original amp draw was 1.5 and the draw after retrofit was 1.4 amps. That’s a 6.67% drop in electrical consumption. We expect to see better results on larger equipment.

Power Technology Chicago is a Hydrocarbon Gas distributor.

Northeast Cooling specializes in energy conservation, refrigerant system retrofits & natural refrigerants. We are a Trade Ally in ComEd’s Smart Ideas For Your Business program. 

Please contact us if you are interested in saving energy & helping save the environment by converting your commercial refrigeration equipment to run on Hydrocarbon Refrigerant.