Contact Us
Client Services
Past Projects
Case Studies
Diagnostics & Testing
Building Envelope Theory
Special Environments
Career Opportunities

Common Uses of Foam ] Polyurethane Foam Properties ] AMA Article on Toxicity ] Open Cell vs. Closed Cell ] Blowing Agent ] [ HFC Comparison ]

Exerpt from “Comparative Analysis Gives HFC’s High Marks”

By Greg Mazurkiewicz

As printed in Air Conditioning Heating and Refrigeration News, April 18, 2002

WASHINGTON, DC - At the Earth  Technologies Forum here, the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy announced the release of a new Arthur D. Little report entitled “Global Comparative Analysis of HFC and Alternative Technologies for Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, Foam, Solvent, Aerosol Propellant, and Fire Protection Applications.” The report states that HFCs have become the preferred replacements for hvacr and other applications because of their safety characteristics and the potential to provide substantial cost savings.

The new report is an update of a version first published in August 1999. It  documents the performance of HFCs compared to other fluids and technologies in those application areas where HFCs have emerged as replacements for CFCs and HCFCs. The key applications cited include residential and commercial  refrigeration, mobile and unitary air conditioning, chillers, foam insulation, solvent cleaning, aerosols, and fire protection.

“A highlight of the report is its concentration on safety considerations and energy efficiency,” stated Dave Lewis, chairman of the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and vice president of government affairs for Lennox International, Dallas, TX. “HFCs have emerged as the preferred replacements for CFCs and HCFCs because of their desirable safety characteristics low toxicity  and nonflammability and their ability to reduce energy consumption,” he said.

The report says that the production of HFCs is increasing as phase-out of CFCs  and HCFCs continues. “However,” it notes, “the quantities of HFCs that are likely to be produced in the future, under present Montreal Protocol and Kyoto  Protocol treatment, given inherently higher production costs and end-user prices and tight regulation of system tightness and servicing/venting practices, are  significantly less than the peak of quantities of CFCs and HCFCs that were produced in the late 1980s.”

HFCs generally provide the lowest net global warming impact, as measured by  Life Cycle Climate Performance (LCCP), states the report. LCCP is a method of  calculating the cradle-to-grave global warming impact of a product, accounting for direct greenhouse gas emissions and indirect emissions associated with  energy consumption. According to the report, “The net warming impact of most HFC use is close to zero or provides a net reduction in  warming”.

Safety Factors

As mentioned above, the desirable features of HFCs are that they are nonflammable and low in toxicity. The primary alternatives, says the report, “are hydrocarbons, which are highly flammable, carbon dioxide, which is higher in pressure, and ammonia, which is toxic and flammable. The measures required to  allow the safe use of these alternatives vary with the application, but increase  the cost of the application.”

Determining acceptable safety levels “is a significant undertaking that is fraught with uncertainty.”