EPA Approves Hydrocarbon Refrigerants

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has added three hydrocarbons as acceptable alternatives in household and small commercial refrigerators and freezers through EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program.

The three hydrocarbon refrigerants approved as acceptable substitutes are propane, isobutane, and a chemical known as R-441A. These refrigerants can be used to replace ozone-depleting substances such as hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-22 in freezers, combination refrigerator-freezers, and commercial stand-alone units.

Some retailers have been testing these refrigerants in their stores. For example, Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market [3], El Segundo, Calif., has run tests of propane in stand-alone coffin cases.

“This action increases the options for effective, climate-friendly refrigerants in the U.S,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, in a statement.

At the recent 23rd Meeting of the Montreal Protocol Parties, EPA and the U.S. Department of State announced that 108 countries signed a declaration to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). While HFCs are ODS substitutes, they are increasingly contributing to climate change. The approval of hydrocarbons in the U.S. is significant because hydrocarbons are more environmentally-friendly substitutes than HFCs.