Refrigerant options now and in the future
One hundred eighty years have passed since Jacob Perkins patented the vapor compression cycle, which also launched the history of refrigerants. The vapor compression cycle uses the refrigerant to transport heat from the cold side to the hot side of a refrigeration system, heat pump, or air conditioning system. We, essentially, use the same thermodynamic cycle today, however, the refrigerants have changed throughout time.
This paper contains a condensed look at our experience and knowledge, describing the background, the trends, and drivers that frame the scenarios for present and future refrigerant selection. While selecting new alternatives implies investments, costs and burdens, we strongly believe that if these selections are made correctly it can open doors to new opportunities; these include combining heating and cooling systems, which is becoming a very efficient driver for CO2 reduction technologies.
The history of refrigerants is a long and cyclic story. We believe that vapor compression systems will remain the primary technology for the foreseeable future. It is anticipated that refrigerant consumption will grow strongly following the increasing demand from emerging economies. Selection of the systems and technologies while using the best refrigerant is a trade-off between several factors and will impact the system users for a long time. Safety, affordability and environment are the three main elements to consider. The balance of these three factors is rarely found only targeting one refrigerant. Instead, to achieve lower GWP solutions it is necessary to take new energy systems and regional competence development into account.