EPA’s Final Rule Expands The Use of 4 Hydrocarbon Refrigerants in North America

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In an important development, four more hydrocarbon refrigerants have been determined to be acceptable substitutes by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a ruling announced on Feb. 27 by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, expanding the range of alternatives to ozone-depleting compounds like Freon that must be phased out under the Montreal Protocol.

The EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program now lists propane (R290), isobutene (R600a), ethane (R170) and a hydrocarbon blend (R441A) as acceptable in certain applications that vary depending on the compound.

Ethane is permitted in very low temperature refrigeration and in non-mechanical heat transfer. Isobutane is allowed in retail food refrigeration such as stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers and in vending machines. Propane is permitted in household refrigerators, freezers or combination refrigerators and freezers, vending machines, and room air-conditioning units. The hydrocarbon blend is allowed in retail food refrigeration such as stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers and in vending machines and room air-conditioning units.

According to industry observers, the SNAP ruling is expected to allow a much wider adoption of hydrocarbons in the United States. Based on the current available evidence that these four hydrocarbon refrigerants do not pose a threat to the environment, they are now exempt from the Clean Air Act’s prohibition on venting, release or disposal in specific end-uses for which they’re listed.

“Today’s rule is an example of how we can turn the challenge of climate change into an opportunity to innovate our way to a better future,” said McCarthy in her ruling. “By working together, businesses and the EPA are bringing new, climate-friendly refrigerants to market that better protect our health and environment.”

EPA’s final rule expands the use of 4 hydrocarbon refrigerants in North America