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EPA eyeing expansion of greener refrigerants


The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to increase options for refrigerants that offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer.

It’s the agency’s first action on refrigerants under the Climate Action Plan, which calls on EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program to identify and approve additional climate-friendly chemicals.

Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA’s SNAP program evaluates substitute chemicals and technologies that are safe for the ozone layer. This proposed action would expand 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).

“Last June, President [Barack] Obama introduced a broad set of initial steps designed to slow the effects of climate change, including reducing potent greenhouse gases,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “This proposal is a great example of how businesses and EPA can foster innovation by working together to identify refrigerants that better protect our environment.”

After receiving input from industry, environmental groups, and others, EPA is proposing to list additional low GWP hydrocarbon refrigerants in six refrigeration and air conditioning applications: stand-alone commercial and household refrigerators and freezers; very low temperature refrigeration; non-mechanical heat transfer; vending machines; and room air conditioning units. The proposal also adds one lower-GWP HFC (HFC-32) that has just one-third the GWP of the conventional refrigerants currently being used in room air conditioning units. These refrigerants are already in use in many of these applications in Europe and Asia.

In addition to adding these climate friendly alternatives, EPA is also revising the current venting prohibition to account for four of these substitutes, as current evidence suggests that their venting, release, or disposal does not pose a threat to the environment.

EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

Learn more about EPA’s SNAP program and the proposal.


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