Home Improvement

The Evolution of Refrigerants


The majority of HVAC contractors are solely focused on the present and the future. And that’s completely normal and understandable. You have to keep up with the current modern advancements in the HVAC industry and educate both yourself and your employees about where the industry is going to go next.

Also, your customers will definitely want to have the latest, greatest, and most efficient technology that will give them superior performance and flexibility per their specific requirements. However, that doesn’t mean that you should not know how it all began, how the refrigerants that you have used or still use came to be.

Knowing the history of the refrigerants is not only interesting in the sense of showing how far the industry has come, but it’s also useful for potentially predicting future trends. That is why you should take a look at the comprehensive overview of the history of refrigerants.

How Have Refrigerants Evolved?

Inventors and scientists have tried to manipulate different substances to alter indoor temperatures for centuries. The invention of the refrigerant is the most important event in air conditioning. Let’s see how it all happened.

The Invention Of Refrigerants

In order to present a comprehensive timeline of how refrigerants were invented, we’re going to take a closer look at the most important years in the history of the refrigeration:

  • 1756: William Culled, who was a Scottish professor and physician, published a study focusing on the cold made by various evaporating fluids and other methods.
  • 1758: John Hadley and Benjamin Franklin performed experiments focusing on the cooling effects of different liquids that evaporate rapidly.
  • 1824: Michael Faraday ascertained that heat can be absorbed into liquid by using a pressurizing gas.
  • 1840: Dr. John Gorrie tried to alleviate the negative effects of high temperatures. He created a machine capable of making ice through the process of compression, which granted him the first patent for the invention of mechanical refrigeration.
  • 1876: Carl von Linden placed a patent on the entire procedure that involves liquefying a gaseous substance, which was the first step toward air conditioning.

The Evolution

It would take more than eighty years from the invention of Gorrie’s ice-maker to developing a non-toxic and safe substance capable of providing adequate indoor cooling. Robert McNary, Albert Henne, and Thomas Midgley produce chlorofluorocarbon, or CFC, refrigerants.

These were the first refrigerating liquids that would not catch fire. Among these liquids was R-22,a refrigerant that would become a standard for many decades. However, scientists would later discern that these refrigerants are harmful to our planet’s ozone layer.

The Montreal Protocol

This is a global accord that has the purpose of protecting the ozone layer by reducing and completely eliminating all production of use of substances that deplete the ozone layer. This protocol states that all production of R-22 and similar refrigerants must end by the year 2030.

The Appearance of R-410A

The EPA has instructed all manufacturers or various air conditioning equipment to make the transition to a more suitable R-410A refrigerant that does not contain any chlorine and is not harmful to the ozone layer. Since January 1, 2020, the EPA has issued a ban on all further import and production of the R-22 refrigerant.

The Future of Refrigerants

Many HFC refrigerants, including R-410A, still have a potential to advance global warming. That is why the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol also proposes to phase out the use of similar refrigerants. The replacement for this refrigerant is a single-component solution R-32. This refrigerant has a third of the potential to advance global warming of the R-410A, making it a far better option.

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