What is a refrigerant and how does it help your AC?
Air conditioners have become a common name in a household, over a period of time. To explain it simply, an air conditioner takes in the warm air inside your room and converts it into cool air that makes your room cozy and comfortable. But how does it manage that? The magic lies in a chemical that is present inside every air conditioner - The AC refrigerant.
Earlier deemed as an agent infamous for various ecological problems, AC refrigerants have evolved over time, to become eco-friendly agents of cooling.Let’s explore what exactly is an AC refrigerant and how does it help an air conditioner deliver cool air.
What is an AC Refrigerant?
An AC Refrigerant is a compound, present in a liquid or gaseous state, that helps an air conditioner easily absorb heat and deliver cool air, with the help of other components like evaporators or compressors.
How does an AC Refrigerant Work?
Now that we know what an AC refrigerant is, let’s understand the magic behind the cool air in your surroundings. The refrigerant absorbs heat and releases it by transmuting from the liquid phase to the gaseous phase, and back, to bring about the cooling of your surroundings.
The refrigerant is present in the condenser copper coils of an AC. The compressor converts the liquid refrigerant to a high-temperature and high-pressure gas that moves to the outside of an AC and releases heat through the process of condensation. As it reaches the indoor coil, it cools down to the point where it can cause evaporation on coming in contact with the warmer indoor air. Hence, it takes away the heat from the air and cools it down, delivering cool air in your surroundings. The refrigerant then converts back to liquid as it returns back to the compressor, to repeat the cycle.
Different types of AC Refrigerants
Refrigerants have, over the years, undergone many changes, to become less harmful to the environment. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and explore the different types of refrigerants used over the years.
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) - These are the refrigerants that contain chlorine and common examples of these type of refrigerants are R11, R12, R113, R114 and R115. They have been infamous for being detrimental to the environment and contributors to the depletion of the ozone layer. They have also been noted to be significant contributors to the greenhouse gas effect. Banned in 1994, these refrigerants are no longer used in any air conditioner.
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) - Refrigerants like R22, R123 and R124 fall under this category. Popularly known as Freons, these types of refrigerants contribute less towards Ozone Layer depletion but have a far deeper impact on global warming.
While some air conditioners still use this type of refrigerants, they are set to be phased out in India by 2030.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - These are the refrigerants on which most ACs run. Without any chlorine in them, they are the eco-friendlier versions of refrigerants, offering better air quality and comfort. R-32 and R-410A fall under this category of refrigerants.
Hydrocarbons (HCs) - These are the latest and the most eco-friendly refrigerants available currently. They are completely Halogen-free, lead to zero ozone layer depletion potential and lowest contributors to greenhouse effect. While they are highly energy efficient, they are also highly flammable, being hydrocarbons. The most common examples of this kind of refrigerants are R-290 (popularly known as Propane) and R-600A (popularly known as Iso-Butane)
Refrigerants form essential parts of two of our most common household appliances - air conditioners and refrigerators. To rise up and do our bit for the environment, the responsibility lies with us to use only those appliances that support eco-friendly refrigerants.