Natural Refrigerants

refrigerator

Context

• World population is increasing 7 billion in 2014/2015
• Energy Consumpion is growing, mainly in emerging countries
• Climate Changes (Average temperature of Earth, Consequently Ocean Level is increasing, Polar regions are reducing; Average planet temperature is increasing (greenhouse effect) /Extreme atmospheric events frequency is increasing.
• 15 % of world energy consumption is because of refrigeration and air conditioning

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What`s

Natural refrigerants are naturally occurring substances, such as hydrocarbons (R290, R600a), CO2, ammonia, water and air.
These substances can be used as cooling agents (heat transfer medium) in refrigeration systems, don’t harm the ozone layer and have no or negligible climate impact.

However for more than a century, the ozone layer has been being damaged. The vast production of toxic gases, especially with the acceleration of industrial development, has intensified the damage. The great aggravating factor of the story was the delay in realizing the fragility of this protective layer along with the causes of the deterioration.

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Natural refrigerant gases don’t contribute to the global warming and ozone layer destruction, and so helps to preserve our people and the nature.
In addition, a refrigerator with hydrocarbon needs 80 grams of gas to run – but a refrigerator with hydrofluorocarbon consumes 200 grams. This difference represents a 60% reduction in the consumption of refrigerant fluids.

History

Products with the emission of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) have contributed considerably to this damage. This is because these gases, to reach the ozone layer, destroy ozone molecules that form. The trend is that they accumulate with greater intensity in the cold regions, such as the poles, that’s why the hole in the ozone layer in Antarctica is so large. In 2006 the loss of the ozone layer in this region was 60%, according to INPE (National Institute for Space Research) information.
The main consequences of this destruction are global warming and damage to health, such as skin cancer. The latest research released by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimates that each 1% loss of the ozone layer, 50,000 new cases of skin cancer arise and 100,000 cases of blindness, caused by cataracts, throughout the world.

In the 1970s, scientists discovered the dangerous impact Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) have in the Earth’s atmosphere. CFCs were used as foam blowing agents, refrigerants and solvents. It was found that they destroy the ozone layer, so that aggressive UV-B radiation can reach directly the Earth’s surface causing genetic damage in the cells of people, plants and animals.Therefore, in 1987, an international treaty was concluded at Montreal, Canada (the so called Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer), to prevent the ozone layer from further destruction and begin the phase-out of the use of CFCs and other Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) like Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

The first step in combating ozone layer deterioration was given by the United Nations (UN) in 1987, with the creation of the Montreal Protocol. The international treaty, joined by 150 countries, established that all signatory nations commit to replacing most CFC compounds for less harmful gases and harmless to the environment.
The first modification alternative was for HCFC, but a few years later it was realized, that while it doesn’t destroy the ozone layer it increases the greenhouse effect. So, ten years later, the UN saw the need to intensify efforts to control the emitted gases, which aggravated the greenhouse effect. For this purpose, the Kyoto Protocol was established in Japan, with the signing of 175 countries, including Brazil. In an addendum to the Montreal Protocol, it was foreseen that the use of HCFCs should be stopped by 2040 in developing countries and by 2030 in developed countries.
Concerned to offset the damage to the ozone layer, the European Union has one of strictest gas emission regulations. For 2015 the goal is to eliminate household refrigerators and freezers using HFC and have GWP higher than 150. – In commercial refrigeration products the recommendation is to eliminate HFC compressors with GWP above 2500 by 2020, and two years later reduce the GWP of these refrigerators for up to 150.
In the United States, the EPA – Environmental Protection Agency – aims to replace HFC applications for less polluting gases by January 1, 2016. This list includes R-290 for the refrigeration line. In Europe, the expectation is that by 2020 to have a 150 GWP ceiling for gases with fluoride.