Which gas is used in AC? (2020)

Most likely, a large number of people rely on Air conditioners to stay cool and calm throughout the summers. But often they overlook the question, Which Gas is used in AC?

In proper terms, the AC gas is known as Refrigerant. Without refrigerant, we wouldn’t have known Air conditioners and Refrigerators as we have them today. Refrigerants have revolutionised the modern way with which we are living our lives today.

But a lot of people are still unaware of the question, Which Gas is used in AC?

While in the 90s, the fact that CFC (Chlorofluorocarbon) is highly involved in the depletion of the ozone layer was quite in talks. The Chlorofluorocarbon, which is most commonly known as Freon, was used as a refrigerant back those days. Not just Ozone depletion but Freon was also for contributing to global warming and affecting our environment severely. However, in all those years, with a lot of research, and modernisation refrigerant or you say AC gas has evolved and improved to a great extent.

What is Refrigerant or AC gas?

A refrigerant is a substance or mixture of substance that is used in a heat pump of AC or refrigeration cycle of your refrigerator. It is usually in the form of fluid, without which the cooling technology would not exist. In all the working cycles, refrigerant transits from a liquid state to a gas state and back to liquid again for the entire cooling or freezing purpose. Though many refrigerants were used till today the most talked one was the Chlorofluorocarbon.

The ideal refrigerant must have some favourable thermodynamic properties like non-corrosive nature with mechanical components and safety from flammability and toxicity. Moreover, it must not cause global warming, climate change and most importantly, ozone depletion.

Which are the latest refrigerants/ gas used in AC?

Coming to the prime topic of our article, Which Gas is used in AC?

The commonly used refrigerant in the past, mainly in the 90s was CFC or Freon. Freon which was a brand name for a refrigerant “R-12” was notedly stopped getting used in Air conditioners a few years ago. It was banned for containing substances that were highly potential for ozone depletion. Later in 2000s CFCs were replaced with HCFCs (Hydrochlorofluorocarbon) which are commonly is “R-22”. Though HCFCs, as they contain chlorine, were still harmful to the environment and were only slightly better than CFCs.

In India till 2016, about 50% to 60% Air conditioners used HCFCs. However, as per the Indian government’s plan, HCFCs with their environment harming potentials will be completely phased out till 2030 from India.

Manufacturers than created another set of refrigerants with the absence of chlorine and it was called HFCs or Hydro Fluro Carbons. The Hydro Fluro Carbons too carries the potential for Global warming but are still better than HCFCs. Moreover, HFCs carry no potential of Ozone depletion and thus were quite an improved set of refrigerants than others. The most commonly HFCs used in Air conditioners are “R-410A” and “R-32”. These are better in terms of energy efficiency too. The “R-32” HFC is termed better than the “R-410A” in terms of global warming potential, but still, it is one of the HFC after all.

In India till 2018, about 20% to 30% Air conditioners used HFCs. Though, it is reportedly known that Indian will completely phase-out of HFCs in the coming few years.

The table below represents the Global warming and Ozone depletion potential of various refrigerant.

which gas is used in ac

Note: In some cases, the high Global warming and Ozone depletion potential refrigerant are also advertised as environmentally friendly or low on GWP and ODP. It is always better to check and confirm beforehand.

The Latest refrigerant or gas used in AC

Now the most recent refrigerant used in Air conditioners is the HCs or Hydrocarbons. The common Hydrocarbon refrigerants are “R-290” and “R-600A”. The Chemical names for “R-290” is “Propane”, and “R-600A” is “Iso-Butane”. Both of these are having no potential for Ozone depletion, are lowest in terms of global warming potential and are completely halogen-free. Hydrocarbons are high energy savers but at the same time are highly flammable as well. Though manufacturers who use HC as refrigerants claim that they are safe and are taken good care off while using in ACs.

Meanwhile “R-600A” is the most used refrigerant in India these days and has no reported incidents due to Hydro Carbons. These safest refrigerants have now shown leading usage for new devices in Japan, Europe and the United States.

What is the importance of refrigerant in an Air conditioning system?

As we have said this before too, without refrigerant, air conditioners are of utterly no use. In air conditioners, refrigerants flow inside the copper coil to absorb heat from indoor air. It transits from a low-pressure gas to high-pressure liquid. The AC components then blow the refrigerant outside. Here a fan blows hot air over the copper coil and then later exhaust it to the atmosphere. Soon after that, the refrigerant cools down and turn into a low-pressure gas again.

Which AC gas is termed as the most energy-efficient?

According to a recent study, “R-290” is an energy-efficient refrigerant amongst many others. Although in India, R-290 systems are limited for only up to 1.5 tons Air conditioners. It is approved by both the national as well as the international safety authorities for Air conditioning applications. Though it is stated as highly flammable, with relatively small charges and explosion free electrical connections, it is marked as safe according to the safety standards. Switching to R-290 in air conditioners can save a lot of money in the long run. Moreover, these are preferable for regions with high-ambient temperature in India.

Does AC gas/refrigerant require to get replaced?

No, the AC gas or refrigerant does not go anywhere as it is a part of continuous cooling and heating cycle. Though, some imperfections are in tacked with everything in the world and so as with refrigerants. Refrigerants from Air conditioners may sometimes lead to leakage. This can happen accidentally, and one would not realise until using the air conditioner back again.

In such a case, both the refrigerant component and the refilling must be taken care of and fixed quickly. An approved technician can help in such a situation.

The leakage and close contact with leaked refrigerant may not only lead to a long-term health issues but can also to some minor problems. These problems include dizziness, skin rashes, and irregular heartbeats for some people.

As refrigerants are 3 to 5 times heavier than air, it is advisable not to keep kids and pets for a long time near to any such appliance that works on refrigerant. It is better to keep such appliance on a good ventilated place so even if there are some gas leakage, it will not impact on you that deeply. However, if in case anyone shows such symptoms, it is always advisable to visit a doctor and seek medical aid.

All in all, this was a detailed answer for the ever-rising question, which gas is used in AC (air conditioner). With years passing by and we being more conscious about our environment, the refrigerants aka AC gas has evolved quite a lot.

Refrigerants, from being one of the most harmful substances and the leading cause of Global warming and Ozone layer depletion has now evolved being environmentally friendly and energy-efficient. If you are the one worried about nature and the environment, then go for an air conditioner with refrigerant R-290. The more we will opt for a better refrigerant, the more manufacturers will focus on upgrading its basics.

Worrying about our mother earth, we may soon see some advancements and progress to have better refrigerants in the coming future. This was all for which gas is used in AC?

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