When evaluating any substance, apart from its technical performance, its safety and environmental impact should be paramount.
The environmental advantages of HFOs and HCFOs and lower GWP HFCs
From CFCs to HFCs
The use of HFCs enabled the replacement of CFCs and HCFCs. Most HFCs have high GWPs (>1000) but have a good balance of safety and technical properties.
HFOs: Safety & low GWP
HFOs and HCFOs have similar safety and technical properties to the HFCs but have ultra-low or negligible GWPs and very short atmospheric lifetimes measured in days or months. Any emissions have negligible contribution to global warming. They can be used in very energy efficient equipment or provide excellent thermal insulation foam minimising energy consumption.
Innovation in HFCs
New systems continue to use lower GWP HFCs. For example, HFC-32 has a GWP of 675 and is being widely adopted as a lower GWP alternative to high GWP R-410A in new systems, particularly where HFOs or HCFOs alone do not provide the necessary technical performance. It also has improved energy efficiency, requires reduce refrigerant charge and has a relatively short atmospheric lifetime (5.2 years).
Montreal Protocol HFC Phase-down
In 2018, HFC consumption was already 46 % below the first limit for the EU under the Montreal Protocol Kigali Amendment (which was to be achieved in 2019). Measuring the progress of this phase-down relies on the metric of ‘consumption’, which is similar, but not identical, to ‘placing on the market’ (POM) used for the EU HFC phase-down. [EEA 2019 F-gas report].