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Propane as natural refrigerant

Propane as natural refrigerant

Taking responsibility for our environment, the use of refrigeration plants with natural refrigerants has become an absolute necessity in all areas.
Every year, several million tonnes of environmentally harmful CO2 emissions are released by synthetic refrigerants which escape into the environment.

In order to avoid this, there are natural refrigerants such as propane, ammonia, propene and butane which avoid such emissions. According to the current state of the art, the required refrigeration technology is capable of using these refrigerants in a highly efficient way.

The use of natural refrigerants is becoming increasingly important within the legislation and is regulated by the EU Regulation No 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases regulation). Here, the nearly complete synthetic refrigerant phase-out and a change to natural refrigerants is regulated. It is aimed at completing this by 2030.

Propane is a highly efficient and - with the right refrigeration technology - a very safe refrigerant. Propane is one of the natural refrigerants and thus considered to be very environmentally friendly.

  • Safe operation of the plant even at high outdoor temperatures (>+50 °C)
  • Closed refrigerant circuit with brine connections
  • Efficient operation in summer as well as winter
  • Reduction in maintenance costs, no leak tests
  • Low pressure levels below 28 bar
  • Environmentally friendly operation of the plant

According to the EU F-gases regulation, the common synthetic refrigerant phase-out has already been decided. The restrictions regarding refrigerants, which primarily had an ozone depletion potential, had already been introduced several years ago. Today, these refrigerants are prohibited in Germany. However, the refrigerants used today have a high share in global warming by the greenhouse effect. It is partly at a load which is more than 1000 times higher than e.g. regarding natural refrigerants. The restriction of these refrigerants was determined on the basis of the GWP (Global warming potential, which exists for each refrigerant). Accordingly, refrigerants with GWPs > 2,500 will be prohibited in the future. Refrigerants with lower GWP can still be used, but a so-called phase-down is planned to start in 2020. Regarding this phase-down, it is aimed at restricting the availability of the refrigerants, or an increased tax is possibly imposed on these refrigerants.

Natural refrigerants are not affected by this regulation. Thus, they are absolutely future-proof. Future changes of the refrigeration plants to new refrigerants or the increased costs resulting from the phase-down are completely avoided by the use of natural refrigerants.

Natural refrigerants are absolutely future-proof.

According to the F-gases regulation, there is the provision for synthetic refrigerants to have the plant checked for leaks according to the following criteria. This increases the maintenance costs. When using natural refrigerants, this check is not necessary.

Provisions from the EU Regulation No 517/2014 on fluorinated greenhouse gases

1 January 2015
Domestic refrigerators and freezers that contain HFCs with GWP of 150 or more

1 January 2020
Refrigerators and freezers for commercial use (hermetically sealed equipment) that contain HFCs with GWP of 2,500 or more

1 January 2022
Refrigerators and freezers for commercial use (hermetically sealed equipment) that contain HFCs with GWP of 150 or more

1 January 2020
Stationary refrigeration equipment that contains, or whose functioning relies upon, HFCs with GWP of 2,500 or more, except equipment intended for applications designed to cool products to temperatures below – 50 °C

1 January 2022
Multipack centralised refrigeration systems for commercial use with a rated capacity of 40 kW or more that contain, or whose functioning relies upon, fluorinated greenhouse gases with GWP of 150 or more, except in the primary refrigerant circuit of cascade systems where fluorinated greenhouse gases with a GWP of less than 1,500 may be used

1 January 2020
Movable room air-conditioning equipment (hermetically sealed equipment which is movable between rooms by the end user) that contain HFCs with GWP of 150 or more

1 January 2025
Single split air-conditioning systems containing less than 3 kg of fluorinated greenhouse gases, that contain, or whose functioning relies upon, fluorinated greenhouse gases with GWP of 750 or more

Refrigerant Annual check* Semi-annual check* Quarterly check*
R 134a from 3,5kg from 35kg from 350kg
R 404a from 1,3kg from 13kg from 130kg
R 407C from 2,8kg from 28kg from 280kg
R 410A from 2,4kg from 24kg from 240kg
R 410A from 2,4kg from 24kg from 240kg

Please refer to the regulation for the precise definition.
* the intervals can be doubled by automatic leakage devices.

Correlation table for common refrigerants

  IPCC 4th AR Refrigerant quantity [kg] corresponds to t Co2 eq.
    5 50 500
F-Gas GWP100 kg kg kg
R 134a 1.430 3,5 35,0 349,7
R 404A 3.922 1,3* 12,7 127,5
R 407C 1.774 2,8* 28,2 281,9
R 410A 2.088 2,4* 24,0 239,5
R 422D 2.730 1,8* 18,3 183,2
R 507A 3.985 1,3* 12,5 125,5

For the filling quantity < 3kg or < 6kg regarding hermetically sealed equipment, the obligations to check are valid from 1 January 2017.
Source: German Federal Environmental Agency