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Natural refrigerants

Major technological shift drives environmentally friendly natural refrigerants

SWEP supplies brazed plate heat exchangers for a range of applications including chillers for air conditioning systems and for supermarket refrigeration.

Such applications have in the past required the use of synthetic refrigerants such as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC).

Now though, industry is undergoing a major technology shift, with synthetic refrigerants being replaced with new environmentally friendly natural refrigerants as part of the drive to reduce global warming impact.

Legislation is driving this technology shift, with the European F-gas regulation being the most significant enabler. Globally the shift is being driven by the Montreal protocol* and its Kigali amendment. The legislation will phase out harmful refrigerants by 85% or more in the coming decades.

SWEP is closely following the markets in which we operate to understand the refrigerant trends for different applications. Some geographical markets and applications follow a very clear trend, while for others the situation is unclear, so we must prepare for multiple scenarios going forward.

The commercial refrigeration industry was one of the first to adapt natural refrigerants. CO2 (R744) and propane (R290) are now widely adopted in freezers and refrigerators in supermarkets. Both provide high efficiency and low GWP (Global Warming Potential) values, making them excellent long-term alternatives to synthetic refrigerants. Similarly the heat pump industry is showing a clear shift towards natural refrigerants, with an increasing number of heat pump manufacturers choosing propane (R290) for their applications.

Working closely with customers and other component suppliers, SWEP is involved in a variety of projects that aim to replace high GWP refrigerants with natural or newly developed low GWP alternatives. By investing in SWEP’s laboratory capability to accommodate the new generation of refrigerants, we are increasing our knowledge base and expertise. In turn this will enable us to optimize our existing products and develop new heat exchangers for the future, to the benefit of our customers and the planet.

For further background, please refer to below resources:

The Montreal Protecol

United Nations Treaty Collection - on the Montreal Protecol

For further SWEP info, please contact:

Eric Mencke, Regulatory and Public Affairs Manager, SWEP