OZONE PROTECTION HOTLINE TOLL-FREE (800) 296-1996
EPA'S OZONE DEPLETION WORLD WIDE WEB SITE:
Scientists worldwide have concluded that CFC-12 and other chlorofluorocarbon deplete the ozone
layer. As a result, over 150 countries have signed a treaty to protect the earth's ozone layer called the Montreal Protocol. In the US, the Protocol is implemented by the Clean Air Act, and regulations issued under the Act ended the production of CFC-12 for air conditioning and refrigeration uses on December 31, 1995.
CFC-12 (also known by the trade name Freon) was widely used in air conditioners for automobiles
and trucks for over 30 years. While new vehicles no longer use CFC-12, most vehicles built before 1994 still require its use for servicing. As a result, 30 million cars or more may need conversions to use an alternative refrigerant should the air conditioning develop a leak after CFC-12 is no longer available.
EPA Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP)
In 1994, EPA established the SNAP Program to review alternatives to ozone-depleting substances
like CFC-12. Under the authority of the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA), EPA examines new substitutes for their ozone-depleting, global warming, flammability, and toxicity characteristics. EPA has determined that several refrigerants are acceptable for use as CFC-12 replacements in motor vehicle air conditioning systems, subject to certain use conditions. This fact sheet lists the use conditions in detail and provides information about the current crop of refrigerants.
It is important to understand the meaning of "acceptable subject to use conditions." EPA believes
such refrigerants, when used in accordance with the conditions, are safer for human health and the
environment than CFC-12. This designation does not mean that the refrigerant will work in any specific system, nor does it mean that the refrigerant is perfectly safe regardless of how it is used. Finally, note that EPA does not approve or endorse any one refrigerant that is acceptable subject to use conditions over others also in that category.
Note also that EPA does not test refrigerants. Rather, we review information submitted to us by
manufacturers and various independent testing laboratories. Therefore, it is important to discuss any new refrigerant with your auto manufacturer and shop technician before deciding to use it, and in particular to determine what effect using a new refrigerant will have on your warranty. Before choosing a new refrigerant, you should also consider whether it is readily and widely available, and your technician should consider the cost of buying recovery/recycling equipment for that refrigerant. Additional considerations about purchasing CFC-12 substitutes can be found in EPA's fact sheet titled "Questions to Ask Before You Purchase an Alternative Refrigerant."
"Drop-in" refrigerants Many companies use the term "drop-in" to mean that a substitute refrigerant will perform identically to CFC-12, that no modifications need to be made to the system, and that the alternative can be used alone or mixed with CFC-12. However, EPA believes the term confuses and obscures several important regulatory and technical points. First, charging one refrigerant into a system before extracting the old refrigerant is a violation of the SNAP use conditions and is, therefore, illegal. See the section below on use conditions for more information. Second, several alternatives carry an additional use condition to replace standard hoses with less permeable "barrier" hoses. Third, it is impossible to test a refrigerant in the thousands of air conditioning systems in existence to demonstrate identical performance. In addition, system performance is strongly affected by outside temperature, humidity, driving conditions, etc., and it is impossible to ensure equal performance under all of these conditions. Finally, it is very difficult to guarantee that system components will last as long as they would if CFC-12 were used. For all of these reasons, EPA does not use the term "drop-in" to describe any alternative refrigerant.
Under the SNAP rule, each new refrigerant must be used in accordance with the conditions listed
below. If you choose to use an alternative, make sure the service shop meets these requirements and that it has dedicated recovery/recycling equipment for that refrigerant.
UNIQUE FITTINGS: Each new refrigerant must be used with a unique set of fittings to prevent the
accidental mixing of different refrigerants. These fittings are attachment points on the car itself, on all recovery/recycling equipment, on can taps and other charging equipment, and on all refrigerant
containers. If the car is being retrofitted, any service fittings not converted to the new refrigerant must be permanently disabled. Unique fittings help protect the consumer by ensuring that only one type of refrigerant is used in each car. They also help protect the purity of the recycled supply of CFC-12, which will mean it will last longer, so fewer retrofits will be necessary nationwide.
LABELS: Whether a car is originally designed to use a new refrigerant or is retrofitted, the technician must apply a detailed label giving specific information about the alternative. The label's color is chosen by the manufacturer to be unique, and it contains:
the name and address of the technician and the company performing the retrofit;
the date of the retrofit; the trade name, charge amount, and, when applicable, the ASHRAE numerical designation of the refrigerant; the type, manufacturer, and amount of lubricant used; and if the refrigerant is or contains an ozone-depleting substance, the phrase "ozone depleter" This label covers up information about the old refrigerant, and provides valuable details on the alternative and how it was used. It also tells the owner who performed the retrofit.
REMOVE ORIGINAL REFRIGERANT:
The original CFC-12 must be removed from the system prior to
charging with the new refrigerant. This will guarantee that the
largest amount of clean CFC-12 is available for use in cars that
still need it. As mentioned above, this requirement means that no
alternative can be used as a "drop-in."
BARRIER HOSES: HCFC-22, a component in some blends, can seep out through traditional hoses. Therefore, when using these blends, the technician must replace the old hoses with new, less permeable hoses. The table notes this additional requirement where appropriate.
For More Information EPA's Stratospheric Ozone Protection Hotline, at 800-296-1996, distributes numerous fact sheets and brochures, including a version of this fact sheet that includes a table of alternatives.
Each of the following explains one issue related to motor vehicle air conditioning and ozone depletion:
Qs & As on Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning: What Consumers
& Service Technicians Want to Know The Facts Behind the
Phase out (ozone depletion science)
Qs & As on HC-12a, OZ-12, and Other Flammable Refrigerants
Questions to Ask Before You Purchase an Alternative Refrigerant
Substitute Refrigerants Under SNAP (lists of substitutes for all end-uses)
Most of these are also available, along with a great deal of other information, from EPA's Ozone
Depletion World Wide Web site:
The Home Page is the main entry point to the site
SNAP information and fact sheets
Fact sheets and information on regulations issued under Section 609 of the Clean Air Act, which
deals with automobile air conditioning
The science page explains how ozone depletion occurs and dispels several common myths
The table below summarizes the following information about refrigerants reviewed under EPA's SNAP program for use in motor vehicle air conditioning systems. Note that "air conditioning" means cooling vehicle passenger compartments, not cargo areas, so refrigeration units on trucks and rail cars are not considered air conditioners.
Name: Many refrigerants are sold under various names. All known trade names are listed, separated by slashes.
acceptable subject to use conditions: May be used in any car or truck air conditioning system, provided the technician meets the conditions described above. Note that EPA cannot guarantee that any refrigerant will work in a specific system.
unacceptable: Illegal to use as substitutes for CFC-12 in car or truck air conditioners.
proposed acceptable subject to use conditions: With the exceptions of R-406A and GHG-HP, may be used legally. EPA will accept public comment on these refrigerants and then make a final ruling. There is no formal EPA position until then.
not submitted: Illegal to use or sell for use in motor vehicle air
Date of ruling: The date either a final rule or a proposed listing was published in the Federal Register. Note that proposed listings are not final and may change because of public comment.
Manufacturer name and contact phone number: Call for more information on testing, performance, system compatibility, etc.
Composition: Every refrigerant other than HFC-134a is a blend of several components.
Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning Substitutes for CFC-12
Reviewed Under EPA's SNAP Program
Components / Reason Unacceptable
HCFC- HCFC- HCFC- HFC- HFC- Propane Butane Isobutane
Name(1) Status(2) Date Manufacturer 22 124 142b 134a 152a (R-290) (R-600) (R-600a)
HFC-134a ASU 3/18/94 Several 100
R-401C ASU 3/18/94 DuPont
(not sold in US) 33 52 15
FRIGC FR-12 ASU 6/13/95 Intermagnetics
800-555-1442 39 59 2
Freezone (3) ASU 5/22/96 Freezone
504-288-2847 19 79
Ikon-12 ASU 5/22/96 Ikon Corp.
601-868-0755 Composition Claimed as Confidential Business Information
McCool (4) P 5/22/96 People's Welding
800-382-9006 55 41 4
Chill-It (4) P 5/22/96 People's Welding
800-382-9006 51 28.5 16.5 4
Kar Kool (4) P 5/22/96 ICOR
800-357-4062 50 39 9.5 1.5
GHG-HP (4) P 5/22/96 People's Welding
800-382-9006 65 31 4
FREEZ-12 under review Technical Chemical 20 80
OZ-12 UNA 3/18/94 OZ Technology Flammable blend of hydrocarbons; insufficient
data to demonstrate safety
R-176 UNA 3/18/94 Arctic Chill Contains CFC-12 which is inappropriate in
a CFC-12 substitute
HC-12a UNA 6/13/95 OZ Technology Flammable blend of hydrocarbons; insufficient
data to demonstrate safety
R-405A UNA 6/13/95 Greencool Contains a perfluorocarbon which has
extremely high global warming potential
(1) R-401A (made by DuPont), R-401B (DuPont), R-409A (Elf Atochem), Care 30 (Calor Gas),
Adak-29/Adak-12(TACIP Int'l), and ES-12R (Intervest) have not been submitted for review in
motor vehicle air conditioning and it is therefore illegal to use them in such systems.
(2) See text for details on legality of use according to status
ASU = acceptable subject to fittings labeling and no drop-in use conditions
P = proposed acceptable subject to use conditions; open to public comment, so decision isn't final
UNA = unacceptable; illegal for use as CFC-12 substitutes in motor vehicle air conditioners
(3) Freezone contains 2% of a lubricant
(4) Additional use condition: must be used with barrier hoses
ICE Inc., a company that has been manufacturing and servicing automotive air-conditioning systems for 36 years. Located in San Diego. ICE Inc., provides both informative data pertinent to the environmentally safe retrofitting of A/Cs as well as upgrade kits to all makes and models of automobiles.
NEW A/C RETROFIT KITS Convert your R-12 to R134a Environmental Upgrades Now Available.
ICE TECH LINK
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