The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a warning in July regarding the sale of R-22 refrigerant with propane in the U.S. market.
“A number of refrigerants with “22a” or “R-22a” in the name contain highly flammable hydrocarbons, such as propane,” EPA’s warning states. “These refrigerants are being marketed to consumers seeking to recharge existing home and motor vehicle air conditioning systems that were not designed to use propane or other flammable refrigerants.
“These refrigerants have never been submitted to EPA for review of their health and environmental impacts and are not approved for use in existing air conditioning systems. Using propane-based refrigerant in an air conditioner that is not designed for flammable refrigerants poses a threat to homeowners as well as service technicians because systems that are recharged with “22a” refrigerants can catch fire or explode resulting in injury and property damage.”
The EPA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Transportation—Office of Inspector General, were to begin an investigation into a flammable refrigerant sold as Super-Freeze 22a, Super-Freeze12a, Super-Freeze 134a, Enviro-Safe 22a, and R134a.
The Super Freeze website lists the following: “Super-Freeze 22a, a HC-based refrigerant, is a blend of environmentally safe hydrocarbon fluids designed as a direct replacement and retrofit refrigerant option for replacing R22 refrigerants in commercial air conditioning and refrigeration systems outside of the United States (emphasis CB). 22a operates at lower head pressures and offers improved cooling properties and performance compared to R22.”
HVAC Contractors Respond
HVACR contractors and other industry experts voiced their opinions on this news on LinkedIn. Some comments edited for space reasons:
- “It’s about time. They have been hawking propane all over the internet as an R22 replacement for DIY types for several years now. In fact, if you Google “R-22 replacement refrigerant” I guarantee that there will be several web sites on the first page of hits selling the “22a” propane based stuff. They emphasize that no EPA certification is required to buy it. I am worried about homeowners juicing their systems up with this stuff and then calling me when it quits and not telling me what is in it.” — Carter Stanfield, co-author, “The Fundamentals of HVACR.”
- “This issue was addressed by the EPA about a year ago. Why the FBI is getting involved is a bit strange. If the EPA had not created the debacle we have with R-22 — killing it, but not really killing it — this would not even be an issue. If these refrigerants are dangerous enough to get the FBI involved, why were these refrigerants ever allowed to be manufactured in the first place? Propane is an HC, one of many the EPA has been claiming is going to save the world from global warming that hasn’t happened in nearly two decades. We are dwelling in a realm of complete governmental agency insanity. — Robin Boyd, HVAC Advisor/Consultant
- "R-22 v. R-22a — how will people understand the difference? They are so similar in the way they are named, but so different in the composition structure. As prices rise for R-22, the alternatives, legal and illegal, the good and the bad, will all make their way to the marketplace. Alerts and FBI enforcement actions will not stop it alone, the industry needs to educate and engage system owners at their level.” — Ted Atwood, Pres., Polar Technology.
More info: bit.ly/FBIinvestigation