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What are Refrigerants?

Understanding Refrigerants

Refrigerants are substances used in refrigeration and air conditioning systems to absorb and transfer heat, enabling the cooling or freezing of objects and spaces. They play a vital role in the heat exchange process that allows refrigeration systems to remove heat from an area and transfer it elsewhere, thereby cooling the environment.

AIM Act HFC Phasedown Schedule: Final Ruling

The AIM Act directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee the phasedown of HFC refrigerant production and consumption in an effort to transition to alternative refrigerants. The AIM Act includes a phasedown schedule that began in 2022 and continues to 2036.

The new rule prohibits the manufacture and import of self-contained products that use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The rule also prohibits the sale, distribution, and export of products three years after the manufacture and import restriction. Finally, it prohibits the installation of new refrigeration air conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) systems that contain HFCs. The compliance dates of these new rules vary based on sector and subsector.

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The Role of Refrigerants

Every refrigeration system requires four major components to operate:

  • The evaporator to absorb heat
  • The compressor to move heat
  • The condenser to release heat
  • The expansion valve to return to the evaporator and start again

Flowing through these components is refrigerant, the other crucial part of refrigeration systems.

  • Refrigerant is what absorbs the heat and releases the heat
  • Refrigerant is what is compressed and expanded
  • Refrigerant is what gets the job done

Types of Refrigerants


R404A is a widely used hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant known for its excellent cooling capabilities across a wide temperature range. It has been a popular choice for commercial refrigeration applications, including supermarket freezers, walk-in coolers, and cold storage warehouses.


An HFC refrigerant, R134a, finds its place in medium-temperature applications such as beverage coolers, refrigerated display cases, and ice machines in commercial settings.


These HFC refrigerants are environmentally friendly alternatives to R404A, offering similar performance in low and medium-temperature commercial refrigeration systems.


R410A is an energy efficient HFC refrigerant primarily used in commercial air conditioning systems, ensuring optimal cooling while complying with environmental regulations.

R744 (Carbon Dioxide)

Known as carbon dioxide, R744 serves as a natural refrigerant with low global warming potential (GWP). It is gaining popularity in trans critical CO2 refrigeration systems for supermarkets and various other commercial applications.

R290 (Propane)

R290, a hydrocarbon refrigerant, is known for its energy efficiency and minimal environmental impact. It is utilized in plug-in refrigerators, commercial freezers, and vending machines, offering sustainable cooling solutions.

R717 (Ammonia)

Ammonia, or R717, is a natural refrigerant used in large-scale industrial refrigeration systems, cold storage warehouses, and food processing facilities. Its excellent heat transfer properties and energy efficiency make it a reliable choice.

History of Refrigerants

Historically, the modern refrigeration system was born in the 1800s, and refrigerants have changed greatly throughout the years.


In the 1800s, the first refrigerants were natural refrigerants.


In the 1920s, the first synthetic refrigerants gained widespread use since they operated at lower temperatures and higher pressures, making them easier to design for.


In 1987, global awareness for ozone depletion led to the internationally approved Montreal Protocol, which phased-out the use of CFC refrigerants.

1988 & Beyond

In the years that followed, HCFC refrigerants were also phased out. In 2025, the latest EPA regulations will ban the use of HFC refrigerants in new equipment as part of a phase-out strategy.

The Future

As we enter the future, we look toward HFO refrigerants and natural refrigerants such as CO2 and ammonia.

Environmental Impact

At Zero Zone, sustainability is at the core of everything we do. We are committed to minimizing our impact on the environment. By adopting refrigerants with lower GWP and zero ozone-depleting potential, we align ourselves with international agreements and regulations that promote responsible refrigerant use.

Future Trends in Refrigerants

The future of refrigerants is exciting and promising. Researchers are continually working to develop new refrigerants with even lower environmental impacts and improved efficiency. Nanotechnology is being explored to enhance the performance of existing refrigerants and create more sustainable alternatives. Additionally, synthetic refrigerants with reduced GWP are being developed to bridge the gap between current HFCs and natural refrigerants. These innovations are expected to play a vital role in meeting global sustainability goals and mitigating climate change.

At Zero Zone we believe in responsible and sustainable refrigeration solutions.

Understanding refrigerants is crucial to achieving our vision of a greener, more sustainable future. With our expertise, state-of-the-art technology, and commitment to the environment, we are here to provide you with top-quality cooling solutions that benefit both you and the planet.