WASHINGTON – The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is increasing refrigerant options available for use in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment in the United States that offer climate control without harming the ozone layer. This final action addresses refrigerants under the Climate Action Plan that calls on EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program to identify and approve additional climate-friendly chemicals.

EPA is planning to approve additional low-GWP hydrocarbon refrigerants, subject to use conditions, in the following refrigeration and air conditioning applications after receiving input from industry, environmental groups and others:

• Ethane in very-low temperature refrigeration and in non-mechanical heat transfer;
• Isobutane in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers) and in vending machines;
• Propane in household refrigerators, freezers or combination refrigerators and freezers, in vending machines, and in room air-conditioning units;
• The hydrocarbon blend R-441A in retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers), in vending machines and in room air-conditioning units; and
• HFC-32 (difluoromethane) in room air-conditioning units. HFC-32 has one-third the GWP of the conventional refrigerants currently being used in room air conditioning units.

These refrigerants are already being used successfully in many of these applications in Europe and Asia.

EPA is also exempting these substances, other than HFC-32, from the Clean Air Act venting prohibition, as current evidence suggests that their venting, release or disposal does not pose a threat to the environment.
EPA’s SNAP Program, under the authority of the Clean Air Act, evaluates substitute chemicals and technologies that are reportedly safe for the ozone layer. This final rule expands the list of SNAP-approved substitutes to include more low-global warming potential (GWP) alternatives that can replace both the ozone-depleting substances and high-GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The approved substitutes have GWPs that range from three to 675 and can replace older compounds with GWPs between 1,400 to 4,000.