To become aware of the changes in refrigerants and how they affect energy consumption.

The student will be able to:
1. Discuss new refrigerants.
2. Explain the impact of new refrigerants on energy use.

The word Freon© is a Dupont Corporation registered trade name that has long been the generic term for refrigerants. These refrigerants are derivatives of hydrocarbons (compounds of hydrogen and carbon), but also contain elements called halogens (such as chlorine and fluorine). The new name on the block is "Suva©," a high pressure chlorine free hydrofluorocarbon refrigerant, and also a registered trademark of the Dupont Corporation. Freon is the dinosaur that is soon to be a fossil and Suva is the new breed. The big issue today in using Freon and other refrigerants is the elimination of CFC's which are chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants. These new refrigerants are required to have low ozone depletion potential and low global warming potential, as well as keeping energy efficiency in perspective.

CFC's affect our lives in many ways. They are used in a variety of ways and are found in most refrigeration appliances. Refrigerants are designated by a standard numbering system using the letter "R" followed by a number, such as R-11(trichloromonofluoromethane). This refrigerant is used to cool large buildings and is used in the manufacturing of foam insulation. Another refrigerant, R-113, is used to clean circuit boards in manufacturing electronic components.


R-12 (dicholordifluoromethane) is the refrigerant used in virtually every residential refrigerator, every auto air conditioner, and in most commercial coolers. The replacement of Refrigerant 12 will directly affect consumers the most. The first location will be in the automotive air conditioner. The new replacement for R-12 is R-134a which is not a Freon, but a Suva. R-134a is less efficient than R-12 and operates at a higher pressure. The net results of these two factors will be more horse power from the car's engine to yield the same cooling. More horsepower means lower fuel economy and poorer engine performance.

Another important problem will be the necessity to keep cooling coils free of dirt and debris. Traditionally, cooling coils were not cleaned over the life of the car unless it was frequently driven in an unusually dirty or dusty area. The new system will require annual and most probably semi-annual cleaning. High dirt concentration areas would require monthly condenser coil cleaning. To protect our environment, these sacrifices will have to be made.

Currently, automobile manufacturers such as GM, Chrysler, and Ford have at least one vehicle model equipped with an R-134a air conditioning system. All of these manufacturers are working toward converting every automotive air conditioning unit to R-134a in the near future. Many foreign manufacturers are also joining the campaign to convert to this new refrigerant (R-134a).

ACTIVITY 1: (Multiple Choice)
____1. A popular refrigerant in the past has been:
a. freon
b. fremont
c. suva
d. dow

____ 2. A new refrigerant being phased into use is:
a. freon
b. fremont
c. suva
d. dow

____ 3. A type of refrigerant considered dangerous today is:
a. CFC's
b. HCI's
c. CCF's
d. HCF's

____ 4. The first location for refrigerant replacement is in:
a. home A/C
b. insulation
c. automobile A/C
d. circuit boards

____ 5. The refrigerant most common to consumers is:
a. R-11
b. R-113
c. R-12

Slowly Suva will replace Freon in automobile air conditioning systems. New alternatives will also be developed for other CFC's. Although these substitutes may be less efficient, the damage to the environment by refrigerants used in the past is well documented and will eventually be replaced.

As a student of energy education, explain why Suva is replacing Freon in automobile air conditioning systems. Describe the pros and cons. Discuss energy uses, cost, and environmental effects from using past and present refrigerants.

1. a
2. c
3. a
4. c
5. c

Student answers will vary. The following is an example:

Freon is a common refrigerant; it is a chlorofluorocarbon. These types of refrigerants are thought to be harmful to the environment, especially the ozone layer, and are thus being phased out. The first area of replacement will be automobile air conditioning systems. This step will help the environmental issue; however, it may not help the energy issue. Suva is not as efficient as Freon and thus will cause the car's engine to work harder to help cool the car. Therefore the car will use more energy.

Refrigeration Principles and Systems: an Energy Approach. Pita, Edward G., Business News Publishing Co., 1991.

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