Hydrocarbons, They're Kind of a Big Deal - True Switches to a Natural Refrigerant

Hydrocarbons, They're Kind of a Big Deal - True Switches to a Natural Refrigerant

Hydrocarbons. They are kind of a big deal, and an integral part of everyday life - from stove tops to your car, you rely on hydrocarbons to get things done. And now, if True has its way, you will be relying on hydrocarbons to keep your food fresh and cool. If you have been in the industry a while then you are probably aware that Hydrocarbons, as a refrigerant, have been around quite some time. They are lauded as a heat exchanger which leads to greater efficiency, and for their value, as they are inexpensive. You need less of a charge compared to current HFC refrigerants, such as R134a and R404a, to get the job done. While being widely adopted in Europe, Hydrocarbon refrigerants have had a slow start in the States, but that is starting to change with True's switch to hydrocarbon across their product line

Why the switch to hydrocarbons?

This question goes all the way back to the 1980’s when scientists discovered that the stratospheric ozone layer was depleting and the effects would be drastic if left unchecked. When this research was confirmed, world leaders gathered together in September of 1987 to sign the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol was designed to reduce the production of ozone depleting substances (ODS), specifically R12 and R502. The quest began to create better refrigerants that were more environment friendly. After several failed attempts to create a less harmful refrigerant, R134 and R404 were created and are now the most used refrigerant in the US today. The problem is that these refrigerants still contain Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), which does not deplete the ozone but does have a relatively high global warming potential (GWP). What is the solution?

What is the solution?

Introducing R290

R290 is a refined Hydrocarbon that is an alternative to HFC refrigerants and has a low GWP. The thermal capacity is much higher than R134 and R404 - R290 absorbs heat quicker, thereby lowering the temperature in your refrigerator or freezer faster, which reduces energy and cost. Furthermore, with the 25th Anniversary of the Montreal Protocol, the EPA has called for an almost complete phase-out of all hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) in the future. R290 looks to be the best replacement for R134 and R404 because of its reduced energy consumption, cost effectiveness, and lower GWP levels.

“Doesn’t propane explode?” or “Will my fridge explode?”

With that being said, many are still concerned about the flammability of Hydrocarbon. For many in the industry, it’s hard to deny the incidents that have been reported of refrigerators exploding in the middle of the night, blowing the refrigerator’s doors off, busting windows, and breaking cabinets. This is a legitimate concern. The fear is that a small leak could occur, allowing the Hydrocarbon into the refrigerator or freezer. During the day, when the doors are being opened and closed frequently, the Hydrocarbon is able to escape. But during the night when the doors remain closed, the Hydrocarbon could potentially build up to unsafe levels, exploding when the spark from the thermostat clicking off ignites the gas. While this disaster could potentially occur, let’s remember that all of our kitchen equipment has the potential to malfunction and cause damage if it is not properly manufactured. That being said, Europe has been using Hydrocarbon for over 20 years and has over 2 million units in use at this point.

True’s answer to these concerns

True is the industry leader in commercial refrigeration, and with changing demands in the market, True looks to be the leader with their R290 Hydrocarbon Refrigerant. They have already produced over 1.5 million coolers with Hydrocarbon and have been recognized for their efforts to reduce HFC’s. True has performed countless tests on their Hydrocarbon products to insure safety and stability. While performing the UL Leak Tests, even when a full charge was leaked from the cabinet, it never reached a hazardous concentration. In comparison with other every day items found on the grocery shelf such as hair spray and spray paint, True coolers were found to contain less propane than these products. Furthermore, in compliance with EPA regulations, True is using the least amount of R290 that is necessary to run their coolers efficiently. True has also worked hard to ensure that costs will not increase with the use of R290 in their products. In a changing world and changing market, Hydrocarbons look to be the solution for better refrigeration and the conservation of our environment.

Hydrocarbons, They're Kind of a Big Deal - True Switches to a Natural Refrigerant

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