This happened in refrigerant development during the past year

written by Pavel Makhnatch (under supervision of Rahmatollah Khodabandeh and Björn Palm)

Published Jan 27, 2017

This year was yet another exciting year in refrigerant development. New international agreements have set a clear aim to reduce the amounts of used fluorinated greenhouse gases. “F-gas regulation” is no longer a new regulation, but instead the regulation that is accounted for by many. New refrigerants are being studied as alternatives to the conventional refrigerants with high GWP, and the attention to “natural refrigerants” is growing. Even new alternative technologies are considered as a solution to the existing environmental problems. In this article we discuss the major events that will likely affect the refrigerant choice in the future.

Global climate agreements

Just a year ago we have discussed the possibility of global agreement on HFCs reduction within the Montreal Protocol mechanism. Then, a number of countries have submitted their proposals on what the HFC phase down schedule can look like. Although the proposals were different in their reduction schedule and baseline years selection, there was a clear agreement to address the global consumption and production of HFC. After about a year since then, the global agreement is now a fact.

The 197 Montreal Protocol parties reached a compromise, under which developed countries will start to phase down HFCs by 2019. Developing countries will follow with a freeze of HFCs consumption levels in 2024, with some countries freezing consumption in 2028. By the late 2040s, all countries are expected to consume no more than 15-20 per cent of their respective baselines, Figure 1 (UNEP, 2016). This is believed to avoiding up to 0.5° Celsius warming by the end of the century.

Figure 1. Global HFC phase down will work under the Montreal Protocol (Cooling post, 2016)

Noticeably, a number of developing countries will start their reduction later than other developing countries, since they represent countries with high ambient temperatures. These countries have increased demand for the cooling and need efficient replacements to R22 that is still being used there.

F-gas regulation

While Montreal Protocol agreement on HFC reduction is without any doubt important, in the EU the use of fluorinated gases is regulated by the Regulation 517/2014, so called “F-Gas Regulation”. Its HFC phase down schedule is more ambitious and in about a year from now the amount of fluorinated gases that are newly introduced in the EU market will need to be significantly reduced: to 63% of the baseline 2009-2012. Notable, no bans that can facilitate such reduction are required by the F-gas regulation until that time.

The HFCs statistics so far shows that there was reduction of 8% in 2015 (1% greater than required by the F-gas regulation), although that was preceded by the consumption peak in 2014, the year where no limitation were put (European Comission, 2016)

Figure 2. Historical values of HFCs placed on the market during part years.

As a respond to the required reductions, in the end of the last year all major chemical companies have announced a 10-15% price increase for a number of the refrigerants, including R134a, R404A and R410A (Makhnatch et al., 2015). Recently, Mexichem has announced a further price increase of 20% for R404A and R507, 15% for R134a, R410A, R407C, and 10% for R407A (Mexichem, 2016). Other companies are likely to introduce similar increases this year as well.

MAC Directive

While F-gas regulation do not require any HFC reduction next year, the so called “MAC Directive” (European Parliament, 2006) stated that the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases with a GWP higher than 150 in all new vehicles put on the EU market will be totally banned from the beginning of the next year. New vehicles with MAC systems using these gases will not be registered, sold, or able to enter into service in the EU (EU, 2006).

As for the moment, R1234yf (developed in collaboration between the two major chemical manufacturers) is the refrigerant of a choice for MACs. Previously, Daimler has expressed concerns about safety of R1234yf in MACs and announced that it will develop the CO2 MAC system together with several other automakers (R744, 2013)(R744, 2015). There is no further updates on whether such system is being developed or not.

New refrigerants

Clearly, many conventional refrigerants will be replaced with other more environmentally friendly refrigerants in the future. Selection of a refrigerant is always a trade-off of a number of properties. Now, when the environmental properties gained higher weight in the refrigerant selection process, proposed refrigerants have properties that are previously were not widely acceptable, as for example high temperature glide, increased discharge temperatures, flammability and etc.

The amount of single component refrigerants with GWP below 200 is limited, and we are unlikely to see many new single component refrigerants with GWP below 200 in the future (Kazakov et al., 2012). The demand will therefore be covered by the limited amount of the single component refrigerants and a number of their mixtures. As for the latter, the number of the mixtures listed in the ASHRAE Standard 34 and its amendments is greater than a hundred and new mixtures are being added constantly. For further discussions about the new refrigerants and mixtures please refer to another publication “ Environmentally friendly refrigerants of the future ”.

New technologies

In addition to conventional vapor compression cycle that is utilized in most of the ref system today there is a growing interest to alternative refrigeration cycles. Absorption/adsorption, thermoelectric and air compression cycles has been known for years and are used in niche applications. A rather promising technology is the magneto-caloric cycle that has gained a lot of attention in the recent years. It becomes attractive due to recent developments in the materials and prototypes being manufactured.

Other technologies that are being developed include thermoacoustic refrigeration, thermotunneling, Stirling cycle refrigeration, pulse tube refrigeration, Malone cycle refrigeration and compressor driven metal hydride heat pumps. Although some of these technologies can be quite efficient, the developments in this area are still at the early stages.

Refrigeration and climate change

All in all, there is a clear need to combat climate change. This is included in the aim of the recent Paris Agreement that has been adopted last December and entered into force on 4th November this year. Within the agreement, countries agreed to hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change (UNFCCC, 2016).

At this time, the climate observations show that years 2011-2015 have been the hottest years on record globally, and the current year is no exception, Figure 3 (GISTEMP-Team, 2016). The warmest year on record to date was 2015, during which temperatures were 0.76 °C above the 1961–1990 average, followed by 2014. The year 2015 was also the first year in which global temperatures were more than 1 °C above the pre-industrial era (World Meteorological Organization, 2016).

Figure 3. Global mean temperature estimates (GISTEMP-Team, 2016)

Refrigeration industry can contribute to the climate change mitigation by replacing refrigerants with more environmentally friendly alternative, as well as implementing more energy efficient systems and solutions. In addition to the climate benefits, this process is seen as a business opportunity for many that are involved in the refrigeration industry. From our side we will continue to timely review the developments in the area of environmentally friendly refrigerants.


Cooling post, 2016. The global HFC phase down – how it looks [WWW Document]. URL

EU, 2006. Directive 2006/40/EC of the European Parliament and of the council of 17 May 2006 relating to emissions from air-conditioning systems in motor vehicles and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC. Off. J. Eur. Union.

European Comission, 2016. Progress of the HFC Phase Down.

European Parliament, 2006. Directive 2006/40/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2006 relating to emissions from air conditioning systems in motor vehicles and amending Council Directive 70/156/EEC. Off. J. Eur. Union.

GISTEMP-Team, 2016. GISS Surface Temperature Analysis (GISTEMP) [WWW Document]. NASA Goddard Inst. Sp. Stud. URL

Kazakov, A., McLinden, M.O., Frenkel, M., 2012. Computational Design of New Refrigerant Fluids Based on Environmental, Safety, and Thermodynamic Characteristics. Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. 51, 120917100332001. doi:10.1021/ie3016126

Makhnatch, P., Khodabandeh, R., Palm, B., 2015. Utvecklingen på köldmediefronten under året som gått. KYLA+ Värmepumpar.

Mexichem, 2016. Mexichem’s Fluor Business Group to Increase Price of Klea® Refrigerants in Europe [WWW Document]. URL

R744, 2015. Mercedes commits to CO2 MAC from 2017 [WWW Document]. URL

R744, 2013. Daimler, Audi, BMW, Porsche and VW to develop CO2 MAC systems - Third time lucky? [WWW Document]. URL

UNEP, 2016. Press Releases October 2016 - Countries agree to curb powerful greenhouse gases in largest climate breakthrough since Paris - United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 11.7.16).

UNFCCC, 2016. The Paris Agreement - main page [WWW Document]. URL (accessed 11.2.16).

World Meteorological Organization, 2016. The global climate 2011-2015: hot and wild [WWW Document]. URL

Belongs to: Department of Energy Technology
Last changed: Jan 27, 2017


Title Date
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Low GWP refrigerants: previous and ongoing projects Dec 03, 2018
Environmentally friendly refrigeration systems are needed to mitigate the climate change Sep 28, 2018
Natural refrigerants in focus of the Gustav Lorentzen conference Aug 14, 2018
Research focused on safe use of combustible refrigerants Jul 11, 2018
Highlights from the conference on cold chain and refrigeration exhibition in China Apr 30, 2018
The effects of the F-Gas Regulation concern the heat pump industry Apr 30, 2018
New F-gas regulation quota is in place. Are we on track to meet it? Feb 08, 2018
This happened in refrigerant development during the past year Feb 07, 2018
F-gases: do we know what they are? Feb 07, 2018
Emissions of fluorinated gases and their emission reduction Jan 09, 2018
Ten non-flammable alternatives to R404A Aug 24, 2017
Refrigerants: current developments Aug 22, 2017
The future of R404A and other refrigerants with high GWP values as prices rise Aug 09, 2017
Refrigerants: what to expect in the future Jun 19, 2017
Standards and their role in refrigerants development Feb 07, 2017
This happened in refrigerant development during the past year Jan 27, 2017
Environmentally friendly refrigerants of the future Jan 27, 2017
An option to replace R404A in small refrigeration systems Nov 14, 2016
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A year in low GWP refrigerants development Mar 18, 2016
Reducing environmental impact of refrigeration technology Feb 29, 2016
The potential dangers of TFA Nov 01, 2015
Key news in low GWP refrigerants developments Nov 01, 2015
HFO refrigerants explained Oct 31, 2015
Understanding refrigerant flammability Jun 23, 2015
New opportunities for R32 Jun 21, 2015
A guide to F-gas regulation guides Apr 21, 2015
In short about R1234ze Apr 21, 2015
Replacements for R404A Oct 22, 2014
R1336mzz-Z - new generation nonflammable low GWP refrigerant Sep 21, 2014
Low GWP refrigerants for high temperature heat pumps Sep 21, 2014
Safety of new low GWP refrigerants Sep 05, 2014
Can global temperature change potential replace GWP in upcoming regulations? Apr 16, 2014
Quantifying global warming potential Apr 23, 2014
New F-gas Directive, one step closer to the final decision! Feb 02, 2014
A year in new low GWP refrigerants development Feb 02, 2014
Defining “Low GWP” Nov 04, 2013
Which refrigerant replaces next R410A? Nov 03, 2013
New opportunities for natural refrigerants Oct 31, 2013
Uncertain future of fluorinated refrigerants Oct 29, 2013
European Commission’s feedback on MAC Directive implementation issues Oct 28, 2013
R-1234yf to be used in MAC systems, despite safety concerns Oct 26, 2013
Environmental metrics for evaluating refrigeration systems operation Oct 25, 2013
Low GWP alternative refrigerants in heat pumps Oct 25, 2013
Mercedes-Benz wishes to continue using the tried-and-tested R-134a refrigerant in passenger cars Sep 28, 2012
Stability and compatibility of HFOs Aug 07, 2012
Counterfeit refrigerants are on the rise Jul 16, 2012
European Commission sets new deadline: manufacturers may continue to use old refrigerants May 18, 2012
Sweden accelerates the transition towards HFC alternatives May 10, 2012
Refrigerant effect on system performance May 08, 2012
Welcome Mar 30, 2012