The environment, refrigerants and safety


Refrigeration is the process of mechanically reducing the temperature of a space, product or process. To achieve this, the process of refrigeration uses a heat pump of some kind and a working fluid.

Most industrial refrigeration plant’s work using a heat pump operating a vapour compression cycle (Carnot cycle). In effect, this is man-made cooling and there are several working fluids that can be used in the refrigeration cycle (as shown in Figure 1).

Until they were banned for their ozone depleting effects, CFC’s or ChloroFluoroCarbons were employed as highly effective refrigerant gases. CFC’s have since been replaced by hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC’s), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s) and perfluorocarbons (PFC’s). Whilst many are not ozone depleting, many have global warming potential up to a thousand times greater than carbon dioxide (CO2). In response to this, refrigerants are now also classified by their CO2 equivalence.

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