Refrigerant Resource Center
Welcome to our Refrigerant Resource Center, a site designed to centralize the wealth of refrigerant information available from McQuay and help you make the most informed refrigerant choices for products that you specify, purchase or install.
Learn More about Refrigerants
Enhanced Refrigerant Management Calculator – Energy and Atmosphere, Credit 4 (EAc4), Enhanced Refrigerant Management, in LEED® for New Construction Version 2.2 and Version 3.0 offers an opportunity to earn points for LEED certification. However, the equation used to determine if a point has been earned can be very complicated. To help simplify the process, we have improved our Enhanced Refrigerant Management Calculator - making it even easier to enter inputs to determine if an HVAC system will earn two points for EAc4. Refrigerant leakage rates default to 2% in the calculator per the USGBC and cannot be changed. Choose one of two versions.
HCFC Help Center from the United Nations Environment Programme – Provides links to information resources about the management and phase out of HCFCs.
The Accelerated Phase-out Schedule Of The Montreal Protocol – Edition #28 of Engineering System Solutions presents the facts on the updated phase-out schedule of the Montreal Protocol.
Accelerated Phase-out of Ozone-Depleting HCFCs – Announcement from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) regarding the historic agreement of the 191 parties to the Montreal Protocol to accelerate efforts to ensure recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement was reached in Montreal on Friday, September 21, 2007, and speeds up by a decade the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs).
Bulletin – Going, going, green . . . 10 things you should know about HVAC refrigerants and the phaseout schedule
Refrigerant Application Guide – An in depth look at refrigerant properties, applications and their effect on the ozone and environment.
What is the U.S. EPA position on Ozone Depletion and HCFC-123? – links to the U.S. EPA website for information on Ozone Depletion and the phaseout of HCFC refrigerants
McQuay's Positive Approach to HFC Refrigerants In Centrifugal Chillers
|Since 1994, McQuay has led the way in developing and supplying a complete line of centrifugal chillers with non-ozone depleting HFC-134a refrigerant. McQuay positive pressure centrifugal chillers using HFC-134a give you the following benefits:|
- No Refrigerant Phase Out Date – HFC-134a has zero ozone depletion potential (ODP) and is not targeted for phase out by the Montreal Protocol, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or the Kyoto Protocol. HCFC-123 has ozone depleting properties and will be phased out of new equipment in 2020 and production will cease in 2030. (more)
- Refrigerant Availability Not In Jeopardy – With no production phase out date, there are no roadblocks to an ample supply of HFC-134a being available for the useful life (25+ years) of a new centrifugal chiller. HCFC-123 production and consumption is capped in the United States and will be reduced to 0.5% of current levels in 2020, jeopardizing the ability to benefit from the full economic value of equipment purchased today. (more)
- Positive Pressure Design Promotes Low Installed and Life Cycle Costs – The positive pressure design of McQuay centrifugal chillers generally requires a smaller mechanical room with less ventilation. Unlike the negative pressure design used with HCFC-123 centrifugal chillers, they do not require a purge system or an annual oil change. (more)
- Safety – ASHRAE Standard 34 classifies HFC-134a as A1 (lower toxicity and no flame propagation). HCFC-123 is classified as B1 (higher toxicity-no flame propagation). According to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for each refrigerant, HCFC-123 will have a toxic effect at dramatically lower concentrations – 50 ppm versus 1,000 ppm for R-134a. (more)
- Qualify For A LEED Credit – The U.S. Green Building Council LEED New Construction Version 2.1 and 2.2 programs award one point for using non-ozone depleting, HFC refrigerants. Products using HCFC-123 do not qualify for this credit using Version 2.1.
- Competitive Bid and Specification – Specifying HFC-134a results in a competitive bid among four manufacturers. HCFC-123 centrifugal chillers are supplied by only one manufacturer.
- New Technology Benefits – New technologies, such as frictionless magnetic bearing compressors, are being designed for use with positive pressure HFC-134a centrifugal chillers, allowing customers to benefit from the most current technology and efficiency advancements. New technologies are not being developed for negative pressure HCFC-123 centrifugal chillers.
Learn more about McQuay and Daikin McQuay Centrifugal Chillers:
Developed as an interim bridge between CFC and HFC refrigerants, HCFC production and consumption is currently capped in the United States. As of 2020, HCFC-123 can no longer be used in new equipment and production will cease in 2030. While the ODP rating for HCFC-123 is lower than CFC’s, it is an ozone depleting substance and subject to the global phase out. This is identified in the Montreal Protocol "Annex C: Controlled Substances".
By using phase out schedules instead of immediate bans on the use of chlorine-based (CFC and HCFC) refrigerants, the Montreal Protocol and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has allowed time for equipment manufacturers to identify and implement ozone-friendly technologies in their products. Three of four major manufacturers of centrifugal chillers have now completely transitioned to HFC refrigerants, leaving only one manufacturer supplying HCFC-123 chillers. In addition, only one HCFC-123 refrigerant manufacturer remains in the United States.
HCFC production is capped in the United States and will be reduced to 0.5% of current levels in 2020 and completely stopped in 2030. Both dates are within the typical life of a centrifugal chiller produced today.
While refrigerant availability issues can be somewhat mitigated with reclaimed refrigerant, as is evidenced by the relative availability of CFC-11 and CFC-12 since their phase-out in 1995, HCFC-123 presents a significantly different circumstance. Its use in the HVAC industry has been limited primarily to centrifugal chillers. The installed base of these chillers, which were first sold in 1995, is considerably smaller than the estimated 80,000 CFC-11 and CFC-12 chillers installed in the prior 50 years.
Only one manufacturer continues to produce HCFC-123 in North America, and its consumption is only a few percent of the 15,240 metric ton HCFC consumption cap in place for the United States. Worldwide, HCFC-123 is banned in European countries and demand in Asia and the Middle East is significantly lower than that of ozone-friendly HFC-134a centrifugal chillers.
Given the relatively low current demand and the lack of competition among suppliers, future supplies of HCFC-123 required for service pose a significant risk in terms of both availability and pricing before the end of the useful life of a centrifugal chiller purchased today.
Most, if not all, HVAC manufacturers publish certified performance and efficiency ratings for their equipment in accordance with the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI). These ratings are derived from ARI-approved testing and are subject to random re-test to verify accuracy. When a manufacturer submits a bid for a building project, it is this rating that verifies that the manufacturer’s product(s) meet the efficiency requirements of the mechanical specification. This process helps meet customer requirements and certifies that the equipment supplied will perform as cataloged.
One area where this process has undergone significant interpretation is with centrifugal chillers using HCFC-123 versus HFC-134a. It has been suggested that refrigerant properties of HCFC-123 are inherently more efficient than HFC-134a, and therefore an HCFC-123 chiller is more efficient. That logic is flawed, however, for two reasons. The first flaw is that equipment efficiency ratings are derived from the function and properties of all components that comprise equipment (i.e. a centrifugal chiller is comprised of a compressor, evaporator, condenser, etc.). As a result, a centrifugal chiller with an ARI certified rating of 0.55 kW/ton will use the same amount of energy whether it uses HCFC-123 or HFC-134a. Suggestions to the contrary should be verified against the published ARI certified rating. If the manufacturer is supplying a more efficient chiller, then this rating should reflect that they are supplying a more efficient chiller.
The second flaw with this interpretation is that it focuses on full load operation, which occurs only about 1% of the time in most applications1. Because chiller efficiencies vary depending on the operating conditions, the ARI standard for centrifugal chiller certification provides for a full range efficiency parameter, commonly known as NPLV2. This parameter gives a much better indication of how efficient a chiller will be over its entire operating range (100%, 75%, 50% and 25%). While performance varies with each specific project, comparing and choosing the lowest NPLV will result in an efficient chiller application.
1Refer to Appendix of ARI Standard 550-590.
2 Refer to ARI Standard 550/590 for details.
Positive Pressure Design Promotes Low Installed and Life Cycle Costs Back to Top
The following are benefits that promote low installed and life cycle costs with positive pressure chillers:
McQuay Positive Pressure Chiller Using HFC-134a
Negative Pressure Chillers
Physically smaller, requiring less mechanical room space.
Requires a larger refrigerant flow rate, with a subsequent increase in component and unit size.
In the event of a small leak, refrigerant escapes, allowing easy detection and repair.
In the event of a small leak, air leaks into the chiller, making detection and repair difficult. If left unattended, contaminant build-up will degrade efficiency.
No purge unit required.
Added cost and additional space for a purge unit. Must periodically purge unit to remove contaminants. Some refrigerant is discharged in this process.
No evaporator heating system required.
Evaporator heating system required for extended shut down to raise refrigerant pressure above atmospheric.
No oil change is required.
Annual oil change is recommended.
HFC-134a is classified as A1 (lower toxicity and no flame propagation). HCFC-123 is classified as B1 (higher toxicity-no flame propagation). A demonstration of the difference between A1 and B1 toxicity can be found in the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) provided by a manufacturer of both refrigerants. According to the MSDS for HFC-134a, it poses no acute or chronic hazard when it is handled in accordance with recommendations and when exposures are maintained at or below the manufacturer’s acceptable exposure limit (AEL) of 1,000 ppm (8- and 12-hour time-weighted average or TWA). From the same manufacturer, the AEL for HCFC-123 is 50 ppm (8- and 12-hour time-weighted average or TWA). In simple terms, according the manufacturer, HCFC-123 will have a toxic effect at dramatically lower concentrations (95% less than the HFC-134a value).
The following links to the U.S. EPA website provide information regarding Ozone Depletion and the phaseout of HCFC-123:
- The Plain English Guide To The Clean Air Act, Repairing The Ozone Layer
- Ozone Depletion Glossary, Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)