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What is refrigerant, and how does it work?

Refrigeration is one of the most important aspects of commercial businesses. It can help to keep products fresh and safe; as well as provide a comfortable environment for employees and customers. Refrigeration systems use refrigerants to cool and dehumidify the air inside commercial buildings. These refrigerants have many different types. It is important that you know which one you are using in your refrigeration system. If not, there are refrigeration experts in the refrigeration industry that can surely help you classify and choose the right one for your equipment.

Refrigerant - Advanced Commercial

Refrigerants are chemicals that change from liquid to gas or vice versa at specific temperatures. They also absorb heat from their surroundings and release that heat when they change from liquid to gas or vice versa.

The refrigerant is stored in a container called an “absorption” system. The absorption system has two parts: a compressor and a condenser. The compressor compresses the refrigerant, which increases its pressure. The condenser allows the heat to be released from the compressed refrigerant into the atmosphere. The system then utilizes this heat to cool down equipment or products inside of a building. This process will repeat until the temperature reaches a set point that you determine you want to maintain within your commercial refrigeration system.

What are the 4 main types of refrigerants, and their commercial applications?

Refrigerants have many commercial applications including air conditioning, refrigeration, heating and ventilation systems. Refrigerants are classified by their chemical formula and boiling point into four main types: hydrocarbon, chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), hydrofluorocarbon (HFC), and methyl chloride chlorofluorocarbon (MCC).

Hydrocarbon Refrigerants

Hydrocarbon refrigerants are synthetic compounds that contain no chlorine or bromine atoms. These refrigerants, also called HFCs, have been developed to replace ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).

HFCs are typically made up of carbon and hydrogen atoms. They are lighter than air and nontoxic. The most commonly used HFCs include R-134a, R-22, R-410A, and R-407C.

The primary advantage of hydrocarbon refrigerants is their high energy efficiency. They are also highly stable at high temperatures and pressures. This makes them suitable for use in commercial HVAC equipment such as air conditioners and heat pumps that require high pressures and temperatures in order to produce chilled water or hot water for heating systems.


Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are a class of compounds that contain chlorine, fluorine, and carbon. They are otherwise known as “organic chlorofluorocarbons” (O-CFCs). In addition to CFCs, other types of O-CFCs include hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), hydro chloroethylene (HC), and chloroethane (CHCl).

CFCs consist of carbon atoms bonded to fluorine atoms, with one or more chlorine atoms attached to each molecule. The compound is colorless, odorless, and non-flammable. CFCs were first used as refrigerants in the early 20th century due to their low boiling points and high heat transfer coefficients; they functioned well as coolants in refrigeration systems until they began causing damage to Earth’s ozone layer.

There are three types of CFCs:

  • CFC-11: An older type of CFC with a high global warming potential (GWP). It has largely been phased out.
  • CFC-12: Another older type of CFC with a high GWP. It has largely been phased out.
  • CFC-22: A newer type of CFC that is being phased out because it has a high GWP.

Hydrofluorocarbon Refrigerants

The Hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants are the refrigerants that are used in the R-134a and R-404A systems. They are also called HFCs. These refrigerants have been developed to replace the older ones like CFCs and HCFCs.

The HFCs do not contain any chlorine, fluorine, or bromine atoms in them. These atoms are found in the other types of refrigerants like CFCs and HCFCs. The HFCs are also non-toxic and non-flammable gases which makes them safe to use in your commercial refrigeration system.

There are many advantages of using these gases as they:

  • Have a higher energy efficiency than the older types of refrigerants like CFCs and HCFCs.
  • Contain no chlorine, fluorine or bromine atoms which makes them safer for the environment.
  • Are non-toxic and non-flammable gases.
  • Have less effect on the ozone layer than other types of refrigerants.

Methyl Chloride Chlorofluorocarbon

Methyl chloride chlorofluorocarbon (HCFC-22) refrigerant is a type of refrigerant that has been used in commercial and industrial refrigeration systems. It has been used for many years and is still in use today.

Methyl chloride chlorofluorocarbon is a colorless liquid that boils at 138.2 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a density of 1.79 grams per liter at 20 degrees Celsius, which makes it heavier than air.

Methyl chloride chlorofluorocarbon is part of the R-1234yf refrigerant family and was first approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2015. It uses a blend of methyl chloride and chlorofluorocarbons as its base components, along with fluorine-based solvents to help stabilize it. It is designed to replace R-134a, which has been found to contribute significantly to global warming and ozone depletion when released into the atmosphere.

Methyl chloride chlorofluorocarbon is a non-ozone depleting replacement for R134a that works well at low temperatures and high pressures, making it an ideal choice for commercial refrigeration systems such as those found in supermarkets and restaurants where food needs to be stored at very cold temperatures but still be easily accessible by customers who are shopping or dining inside the store or restaurant.

The EPA, among other organizations, is leading the charge in moving away from HCFC, HFC, and other dangerous refrigerants. Whether you’re currently using one of these old refrigerants or you’ve never even heard of them before, you need to educate yourself on their risks and alternative options for your facilities. Opt for new, more environmentally friendly options when you need a replacement for your current refrigerant—and check out Advanced Commercial Group for help finding the right option for your commercial facility’s needs and concerns.

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