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Past Research Projects

Refrigerant Technical Advisory Committee Projects

The Refrigerant Technical Advisory Committee (RTAC) was charged with the assessment of CFC-12 replacement chemicals and technologies. CFC-12 had historically proved to be a non-toxic, non-flammable, odorless, highly efficient chemical as a refrigerant. Zero ozone depleting potential (ODP) chemicals and technologies were examined as replacements for CFC-12 by taking into account their safety, energy efficiency, reliability, and material compatibility.

R89-1, Round Robin Baseline
This project involved calorimeter testing of two CFC-12 compressors with a capacity rating of approximately 950 Btu/hr., with R-12 refrigerant. This project was necessary to develop lab-to-lab correlation data among Members' laboratories as a prelude to testing of potential alternate refrigerants. Americold and Tecumseh provided test compressors with internal temperature measurement sensors. These were tested by Consortium Members with a calorimeter test protocol. They were also tested by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Sufficient runs were made to obtain reasonable stabilized measurements of nine condensing and evaporation temperatures. A complete cycle of tests was run with R-12 to establish a baseline for comparison with alternate candidate refrigerants.

R89-2, Alternate Refrigerant Screening
There are a considerable number of refrigerants/blends potentially available as replacements for R-12. The purpose of this project was to screen several of those currently deemed most promising for their thermodynamic properties and to establish other performance characteristics by means of a R-12 calorimeter test program. Comparison of these candidate refrigerants' performance characteristics with the Round Robin Baseline performance established in R89-1 identified the most promising candidates for further testing. The same calorimeter test program protocol was used for these tests as was used in the baseline project, R89-1.

The following candidates were selected for testing:

  • HCFC22/HFC152a/CFC114
  • HCFC22/HFC152a/HCFC124
  • HFC134
  • HFC152a
  • HFC134a
  • HCFC22/HCFC142b
  • HCFC22
  • HFC134a/HFC152a
  • HCFC22/HCFC124

Based on this screening, the alternate refrigerants and blends scheduled for more detailed research were:

  • HCFC22/HFC152a/HCFC124
  • HFC134a
  • HCFC22
  • HFC152a

The test work is complete and a final report has been issued.

R89-3, Safety Evaluation
The purpose was to develop a fault tree analysis on the use of flammable refrigerants in conjunction with Battelle Pacific. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as a Liaison Member of the Consortium, made available the services of two specialists from Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories with risk analysis expertise. Members submitted data on a confidential basis directly to Battelle Pacific on potential situations leading to flammable consequences. The Refrigerant Technical Advisory Committee reviewed the report and submitted comments to Battelle. Confirmation of the validity of the comments has been received. The project is now complete and the final report has been issued.

R90-1, Compressor Refrigerant Screening
The Refrigerant Technical Advisory Committee collected data from Members and Participants to evaluate candidate refrigerants with respect to their effect on compressor calorimeter and life test performance. Data from these tests were collated to assess total compressor performance with the alternate refrigerant candidates.

R91-1, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Advanced Breadboard Concept
ORNL, a contractor of the U.S. Department of Energy, proposed a major five-year project incorporating joint government/industry cooperation investigating new technical options for improvement of refrigerator energy efficiency utilizing non-CFC refrigerants. A Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) has been executed between ORNL and the Appliance Industry-Government CFC Replacement Consortium. A breadboard laboratory refrigerator was built containing components, such as compressors, evaporators, heat exchangers etc., mounted so that new components could be easily changed for testing the refrigeration system. This program included testing of alternate refrigerant candidates and blends, new insulations, variable speed compressors and motors, dual evaporators and new types of refrigeration cycles.

R91-2, Refrigeration Systems Material Compatibility (RSMC) Project
When new non-CFC refrigerants are applied to existing systems, the effects of these compounds on all the metal, plastic and elastomeric components exposed to the refrigerant must be evaluated. Corrosion, cracking, swelling, shrinkage and other material problems resulting from the new refrigerant and lubricant candidates must be evaluated to maintain appropriate refrigerator life characteristics. This project was coordinated with the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Technical Institute (ARTI) Material Compatibility/Lubricant Research Program (MCLR) in order to avoid duplication of costly research.

R91-3, External Environment Material Compatibility (EEMC) Project
The goal of this project was to assess the material compatibilities found in the manufacturing process. This included materials used in handling refrigerants and lubricants from receiving to charging as well as solvents, cleaners and lubricants used in the fabrication of hermetic system components (excluding compressors which are covered under R91-2).  A list of materials used in the handling of lubricants and refrigerants in manufacturing as well as in the fabrication of hermetic system components was compiled.

R92-1, Energy Performance of R-134a vs. R-152a
The purpose of this project was to perform a valid comparative assessment of the actual energy efficiency differences between HFC-134a and HFC-152a when utilized in typical U.S. refrigerator/freezers. Each participating manufacturer optimized the refrigerant charge and expansion device (capillary, etc.) on a minimum of two identical refrigerators using R-134a or R-152a. Using the optimized charge and expansion device (capillary), standard U.S. Department of Energy energy tests (ANSI/AHAM HRF-1-1988) were run on these cabinets. They also had R-134a or R-152a specific compressors charged with oil specified by the RTAC compressor companies providing them. These compressors were tested with R-134a or R-152a. This project is complete and a final report and public presentation completed.

R92-2, Capillary Tube Blockage Analysis
The objective of this project was to identify by using controlled life test procedures, the mechanisms contributing to capillary tube blockage product failures resulting from use of non-CFC refrigerants and lubricants, and to establish an allowable level of these contaminants. This project is complete with a final report and public presentation delivered in May, 1997.

R94-1, Risk Assessment/Flammability Management of Flammable CFC Substitutes
The goal of this project was to determine the flammability characteristics, risks from manufacture through disposal, and inherent energy efficiencies of flammable CFC replacement chemicals. A total regulatory impact assessment of the use of these chemicals in the U.S. has been completed and released to the public.