Global Warming Potential (GWP) is a measure of the amount of GHG trapped in the atmospheric ambient compared to the effect of one kilogram of CO2. HFC refrigerants have zero ozone depletion potential; however, when released to the atmosphere, they have significant GWP, thousands of times the simple CO2. The growing international emphasis on global warming mitigation has stimulated interest in a new generation of low-GWP refrigerants.
Under the European F-gas regulations issued in 2014, HFC consumption will be reduced by 80% over the period 2016–2030
This would prevent over 80 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent cumulatively through 2050 and it is expected to avoid up to 1.0 degree Celsius of global temperature rise by 2100 compared to global CO2 reduction only, while continuing to protect the ozone layer
The goal of an eventual HFC phase-down is to replace current HFC refrigerants with low GWP alternatives.
Refrigerants R290 (propane) and R600a (isobutane) are possible alternatives to other refrigerants with high GWP in small hermetic systems, like factory-made commercial refrigerators and freezers.
They have also been in use in refrigeration plants in the past, and are still used in some industrial plants. R290, in particular, is considered a promising alternative refrigerant with good energy efficiency for many applications while being the best option in terms of direct GWP reduction.
The main drawbacks of HC are their potential flammability and other safety risks.
However, such drawbacks may be disregarded for a minimal refrigerant charge, while safety precautions are considered and installed in large volume refrigeration equipment.