Refrigeration 101

By: ssjwizard


There are many refrigerants in existence which we can obtain some of which require us to become certified in refrigeration prehand I will make brief mention of these but will mainly focus on those which can be acquired by anyone.

These are what I consider a class 1 refrigerant. By this I mean they were manufactured for the porpoise of being used as a refrigerant and will require a certification to acquire. These
require no additives to compress properly, have a long life span, and are for the most part non combustible, BUT they do release chemicals which are dangerous to the ozone layer.
Here is a list in order of common use.

01) R12(dichlorodifluoromethane): was the standard in refrigeration for a long time with a boiling point of slightly under -40C was used widely in automobiles, refrigerators,
window air conditioners, just about everything.

02) R22(chlorodifluoromethane): this refrigerant has held the standard for home air conditioning longer than any other and is still in use. Its boiling point is just under that of R12.

These refrigerants have been in use for years and have been proven time and again reliable and efficient, there only down side is they deplete the ozone layer and thus require special
certification and as a result are typically only available in 30lb or larger canisters. These refrigerants come pre bottled with mineral oil so your compressor will need to be adjusted

Class 2 refrigerants are refrigerants that are common place and easy to acquire. These do not require special certification nor do they damage the ozone layer.

01) R134A(,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane): with a boiling point of only -26C it is becoming the new standard in refrigerators, automobiles, and all other common uses

02) R290(propane) this is also beginning to make its way in as a main stream refrigerant with a boil point of -42 it is more of a class 4 refrigerant but because of its new found
common use I have included it in my class 2 list. This is randomly used in things such as freezers and allot of hobbyists use it for home build systems.

These refrigerants boast a quite affordable price. Also to be noted is that they come bottled alone or with ester oil, require no certification, and do not damage the atmosphere. As a result
of these factors they are readily available to the public.

Class 3 refrigerants are those whom have a lower boiling point than standard refrigerants. Often they are hybrid mixtures of class 1/2 refrigerants and class 4 refrigerants.

01) R404B(pentafluoroethane/1,1,1-trifluoroethane/1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane: 44:52:4%) this is one refrigerant often sought after by overclockers with a boiling point of approximately -44C and available in 12oz cans this can be a nice choice provided you have your certification.

02) R409A(chlorodifluoromethane/2-chloro-1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane/1-chloro-1,1-difluoroethane: 60:25:10%): this refrigerant ranks in with a boiling temperature of -47.8C provided you are willing to purchase 30lbs can be a treat to work with.

03) R508B(trifluoromethane/hexafluoroethane: 46:54%) this is one of the best readily available high end refrigerants there is with a boiling point near -50C you are lucky to acquire this.

04) R-14(1,2-dichloro-1,1,2,2-tetrafluoroethane) ranking in with a boiling temperature approaching that of -150C at 1 bar pressure this refrigerant can deep freeze you faster than you can say licitly split. Provided you are running either a cascade cooler or are have a compressor that can withstand approximately 350psi it’s a pleasure to work with.

These refrigerants have a moderate - substantially lower boiling point than normal refrigerants some can be acquired in small amounts others have to be purchased is 30lb cylinders. The biggest issues with refrigerants like R14 is that with its so low boiling point it requires allot of psi to compress to liquid with this in mind it may make better use to juice up a system that is running on a lower grade refrigerant by adding 10-25%.

class 4 refrigerants are natural gases. These can be acquired from just about any chemical supply place. Some can be located in your own home. These generally have an extremely low boiling point and are difficult to compress due to there weight but can easily be used as an additive to an existing system to squeeze it for a few extra degrees. These as you may have guessed do not come packed with any kind of oil additive therefor can be used in any system.

01) R50(methane): this a moderately light gas with a boiling point of -162C is the base compound for most of today’s refrigerants in its pure form it is a bit to light(molecular weight 16) to work with outside of a cascade cooler. Though this can be used in a system of its own you will be needing pressures nearing the 450 mark on a warm day to liquefy. So overall a great additive or for use in a cascade cooler.

02) R170(ethane) this gas has a boiling point of -88C and with a molecular weight of 30 its a much more suitable stand alone refrigerant than R50. There are a few common place refrigerants that are based off of this gas.

03) R744A(nitrous oxide): this is a pretty common place gas these days. And with a molecular weight of 45 and boiling point of -89C this definitely yields some potential not only as a stand-alone refrigerant but also as a cascade refrigerant as well.

04) R717(ammonia) this is used in many commercial refrigeration systems. Although it has a rather low molecular weight at just under 18 its boiling point of -33C makes it easy to work with. the most widely occurring problem with this gas is its smell and as it is slightly corrosive extra precautions must be taken.

05) R740(argon): coming in with a weight of approximately 40 and a boiling point of -182C it is easily compressed and used in conjunction with 25% R134 has a weight which is easily used in a standard air condensed system and maintain a boiling temperature below that of -120C with less than 300 psi. this has allot of common potential.

06) R764(sulfur dioxide) this gas has the scores all around molecular weight of 60 and boiling temperature of -76C, although it has toxicity issues. Given a bit of precaution not to let allot of this loose into the air it will easily yield quite impressive results.

These gasses have quite low boiling points, which would make them all great candidates for a cascade cooler. For those of you who don’t know what a cascade cooler its. It is simply a phaze change system that uses another phaze cooler to cool its condenser so you can use a very low temperature refrigerant at a decent psi rating. Each of these gasses has some sorts of hazard rating but then again all refrigerants do. You will need to acquire these liquid compressed or change them yourself if it is going to be the only refrigerant in your system. If not adding them in at normal gas phaze is a viable option.


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