3.4 Types of Refrigerants

Types of Refrigerants

There are three types of refrigerants:

  • Single compound refrigerants
  • Blended refrigerants
  • Mixed refrigerants

Refer to Manitoba Regulation 103/94 for a complete list of prescribed substances under the following: class 1, class 2 and class 3.

Single Compound Refrigerants

Single compound refrigerants contain only one chemical compound.

They include:

  • Methane-based compound refrigerants (000-series)
  • Ethane-based compound refrigerants (100-series)
  • Propane-based compound refrigerants (200-series)

Methane-based compound refrigerants make up almost all refrigerants used today.

Hydrocarbon

The hydrocarbon family of refrigerants consists of, but is not limited to, methane, ethane and propane.

Called hydrocarbons because they are made up of two elements: hydrogen and carbon

Hydrocarbons as refrigerants have good heat transfer qualities, although they have flammable and explosive properties.

Methane, which is also a natural gas, is used widely as a heating fuel.

Halogenated Hydrocarbon

A halogenated hydrocarbon (halocarbon) usually contains one or more of the following three halogens:

  • Fluorine
  • Chlorine
  • Bromine (hydrogen may or may not be present)

To create refrigerants, a process called halogenation is used.

Halogenation means that one or more of the hydrogen atoms have been removed and replaced with the same number of chlorine, fluorine or bromine halogen atoms.

The fluorocarbon family of refrigerants is an example of halogenated hydrocarbons. Examples of these include perfluorocarbons (PFCs).

Fully Halogenated

When all the hydrogen atoms are removed from a hydrocarbon and replaced with halogen atoms, the refrigerant is said to be fully halogenated.

All CFCs, including CFC-11 and CFC-12, are considered fully halogenated refrigerants.

Partially Halogenated

When at least one of the hydrogen atoms is not replaced with a halogen compound and is then considered partially halogenated.

All HCFC refrigerants are considered partially halogenated, of which HCFC-22 and HCFC-123 are examples.

Fluorocarbons

Fluorocarbons are synthetic refrigerants that are a sub-classification of halocarbons.

These are produced by replacing one or more hydrogen atoms with fluorine.

Fluorocarbon refrigerants are further subdivided into:

  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Hydrogenated chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Hydrogenated fluorocarbons (HFCs)

Chlorofluorocarbons

CFCs are fully halogenated refrigerants that are made up of:

  • Chlorine (Cl)
  • Fluorine (F)
  • Carbon (C)

This group consists of refrigerants such as:

  • CFC-11/R-11
  • CFC-12/R-12
  • CFC-500/R-500
  • CFC-502,/R-502

Since CFCs have no hydrogen, therefore are very stable refrigerants.

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons

HCFCs are partially halogenated refrigerants made up of:

  • Hydrogen (H)
  • Chlorine (Cl)
  • Fluorine (F)
  • Carbon (C)

HCFC-22 (R-22) and HCFC-123 (R-123) are members of this group.

Since HCFCs contain hydrogen, they are:

  • Less stable than CFCs
  • Have a much shorter atmospheric lifespan
  • Tend to break apart before they reach the stratosphere

HCFC refrigerants also contain less chlorine than CFCs.

Although HCFCs have only 2-5% of the ozone depletion potential, they are still considered an ODS and will be phased out.

HFCs are also a partially halogenated refrigerant made up of:

  • Hydrogen (H)
  • Fluorine (F)
  • Carbon (C)

HFC-134a (R-134a) is a member of this group.

HFCs do not contain any chlorine, but are significant global warmers.