High-Performance, Low-Global-Warming Refrigerants for Domestic Refrigerators

EPA Contract Number: 68D99082
Title: High-Performance, Low-Global-Warming Refrigerants for Domestic Refrigerators
Investigators: Nimitz, Jonathan S.
Small Business: Environmental Technology and Education Center Inc.
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: II
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through September 1, 2001
Project Amount: $224,966
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase II (1999) Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Two new nonflammable, nontoxic, nonfractionating, environmentally safe, medium-pressure refrigerant blends with performance superior to chlorofluorocarbons, hydrochlorofluorocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, and other alternatives have been discovered. These refrigerants, called Ikon? A and B, have attractive physical properties, zero ozone depletion potential, low global warming potential, and low total equivalent warming impact (TEWI). Both appear superior in safety performance and environmental properties to any other available alternatives. They have been shown to be thermally stable, have low toxicity, and are compatible with common materials. They could eliminate the need for the global warming refrigerant R-134a and the ozone-depleting refrigerant R-12 as well as allow improved energy efficiency that will reduce the amounts of carbon dioxide and other pollutants produced. Tests by the EPA, Dole Foods, and ETEC have shown that Ikon refrigerants have 10 to 30 percent better energy efficiency than current refrigerants. In Phase I, both refrigerants were dropped directly into a new domestic refrigerator and tested for performance. Phase I results show that the new refrigerants could save 10 to 15 percent of the energy used by domestic refrigerators and reduce refrigerant TEWI by about 13 percent. In Phase II, a domestic refrigerator will be optimized to provide maximum performance and third party performance. Extended operation performance and compatibility testing also will be accomplished to prepare the product(s) for commercialization.

The anticipated result is a superior refrigerant product for commercialization in the domestic and small commercial refrigerator and freezer market. In the United States in 1990, 112.6 million refrigerators and 32.4 million freezers were in residential use, representing a total energy consumption of 188.6 billion kWh or 640 trillion Btu. The result of this effort will be a new refrigerant that will give at least 10 percent better energy efficiency than R134a. In a typical new domestic refrigerator, it is estimated that the new refrigerant will save approximately $4.15 per year versus its estimated extra cost of $5.60 for a payback period of 1.4 years. Approximately 8.5 million new refrigerators and freezers are sold in the United States annually. Because the average refrigerator or freezer contains about 0.1 kg of refrigerant, and average leak rate (including repairs and life end) is about 2 percent, the OEM market represents about 1.5 million kg/year. The new refrigerant also is expected to be attractive in other high specific energy use cooling and refrigerant applications. World markets are perhaps twice the U.S. market.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, pollution prevention, air emissions, engineering, chemistry, EPA., RFA, Scientific Discipline, Air, Toxics, Sustainable Industry/Business, Chemical Engineering, air toxics, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Environmental Chemistry, climate change, Chemistry, Civil/Environmental Engineering, HCFCs, CFCs, Atmospheric Sciences, Chemistry and Materials Science, tropospheric ozone, Engineering, Chemistry, & Physics, Environmental Engineering, ambient air quality, adaptive technologies, refrigeration, environmental monitoring, stratospheric ozone, emission control technologies, chemical use efficiency, environmentally safe refrigeration, zero ozone depleting potential, cleaner production, green design, ambient air, ozone, ozone depletion, global change, clean technology, climate variations, alternative materials, emission controls, refrigerant, emissions control, energy efficiency, Refrigerants, CO2 concentrations, greenhouse gases, Ikon refrigerants, reduced CO2 production, alternative refrigerants, alternatives to CFCs, air emissions, global warming, refrigerators, emissions contol engineering, pollution prevention, ambient air pollution, climate variability, green chemistry, air quality

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report

  • SBIR Phase I:

    High-Performance, Low-Global-Warming Refrigerant for Domestic Refrigerators  | 1999 Progress Report  | Final Report