We all remember, and potentially still know and use, the Freon refrigerant which is know to deplete the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. Freon is DuPont’s commercial name for R22, a member of the chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) organic compounds that contains carbon, chlorine, hydrogen and fluorine. CFCs are produced as a volatile derivative of methane and ethane. These CFCs and mainly R22 have been or are still widely used as refrigerants in air conditioning systems.
Since CFCs contribute to the ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere production of Freon and other CFC compounds has been phased out following the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol is an international treaty (187 – 1989) designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion.
What does that mean for users of R22 and especially for air conditioning?
- Production of R22 has been discontinued. Existing and reclaimed R22 can still be used but legislation requires a drastic reduction of R22 consumption over time.
- Air conditioning manufacturers have standardized on R410A. Since 2010 new air conditioning equipment is being produced using R410A.
- Older R22 AC systems in need of repair and recharge will need to be retrofitted for use of alternate approved refrigerants reducing the equipments efficiency or use the now much more expensive existing or reclaimed R22.
If you are an owner and operator of an AC system still using R22 and need repair and recharging you might face the problem of much higher R22 costs or retrofitting. And for very old systems, 15 years and older, replacement with a new high efficiency system might be the most cost effective choice.