8 Common Refrigerants in Water-Cooled Chillers

Water-cooled chillers play an important role in keeping large buildings and industrial facilities cool. These systems depend on substances called refrigerants to transfer heat and provide cooling. Over time, different types of refrigerants have been developed, each with its pros and cons. In this blog, we'll take a look at the common refrigerants used in water-cooled chillers and understand what makes each one unique.

Why Energy-Efficient Chillers?

Chillers are used to cool air or liquids in industrial and commercial settings, consuming a substantial amount of energy in the process. Traditional chillers, especially older models, can be energy hogs, contributing to high energy bills and a larger carbon footprint. Upgrading to energy-efficient chillers can offer multiple benefits, including

Here are some key properties of refrigerants that we consider in our systems

  • 1. Thermodynamic Properties The refrigerant should have favourable thermodynamic properties, such as high latent heat of vaporisation and appropriate boiling point, to ensure efficient heat transfer.
  • 2. Chemical Stability A good refrigerant must be chemically stable, ensuring it doesn’t break down or react adversely under the operating conditions.
  • 3. Non-Toxicity Safety is paramount. Non-toxic refrigerants reduce the risk of harm to people in the event of leaks or accidental exposure.
  • 4. Non-Flammability While some effective refrigerants are flammable, non-flammable options are preferred for their safety benefits, reducing the risk of fires.

R-22 (Chlorodifluoromethane)

R-22 was once the most popular refrigerant used in chillers. It was effective and genuine. However, R-22 harms the ozone layer and contributes to global warming. due to these environmental concerns, the production and use of R-22 are being phased out in many countries. As a result, it's becoming less common in new systems.

R-134a (1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane)

R-134a is a type of HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) refrigerant. It replaced older refrigerants like R-12 and found its way into many commercial and industrial cooling systems, including water-cooled chillers. R-134a doesn’t harm the ozone layer, but it still contributes to global warming. Efforts are underway to reduce its use due to environmental concerns.

R-410A (Difluoromethane/Pentafluoroethane Blend)

R-410A is another HFC refrigerant often used as a replacement for R-22 in new equipment. It operates at higher pressures and requires equipment designed specifically for it. While R-410A doesn’t affect the ozone layer, it has a high global warming potential, which means it contributes significantly to climate change.

R-407C (Difluoromethane/Pentafluoroethane/1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane Blend)

R-407C is an HFC blend used as an alternative to R-22. It works well in many HVAC systems, including water-cooled chillers. R-407C doesn’t deplete the ozone layer but has a moderate impact on global warming. This has led to plans to phase down its use in the coming years.

R-123 (Dichlorotrifluoroethane)

R-123 is an HCFC (hydrochlorofluorocarbon) refrigerant used in low-pressure water-cooled chillers. It offers good efficiency and has a lower global warming potential compared to some other refrigerants. However, R-123 still poses a risk to the ozone layer, leading to restrictions and a gradual phase-out.

R-717 (Ammonia)

R-717, or ammonia, is a natural refrigerant with no ozone depletion potential and very low global warming potential. It’s very able and has been used in industrial refrigeration for a long time. However, ammonia is toxic and flammable, which requires careful handling and special system designs to ensure safety.

R-744 (Carbon Dioxide)

R-744, also known as carbon dioxide, is another natural refrigerant gaining popularity. It doesn’t exhaust the ozone layer and has a minimal impact on global warming. R-744 systems operate at high pressures, which requires special equipment and engineering solutions. Due to the challenges, its environmental benefits make it a promising option for water-cooled chillers.

HFOs (Hydrofluoroolefins)

HFOs are the newest generation of refrigerants, designed to be environmentally friendly. Examples include R-1234yf and R-1234ze. They have very low global warming potential and don’t harm the ozone layer. HFOs are increasingly used in various cooling applications, including water-cooled chillers, due to their balance of performance and environmental benefits.

Choosing the right refrigerant for a water-cooled chiller is crucial for balancing performance, safety, and environmental impact

For more than three decades, the industrial chiller manufacturers at Ventac Chillers have been dedicated to providing the very best cooling solutions for a wide range of industrial processes. Ventac Chillers offers a range of water-cooled and air-cooled chiller systems suited to a wide range of industrial and commercial applications. For more information about how we can meet your process cooling needs, please contact us online today!