(Yes, my AC units broke and the time to even get a technician to look at them, was so long I researched how to diagnose them and do the easy fixes, ran into the EPA requirement, studied the material and got my EPA certification, bought a bunch of gear off Amazon and refrigerant from a “good old boy” at an exorbitant price (global shortage, plus most is sold in palette quantities), and fixed my own unit in half the time it would have taken to get an appointment with a professional company. The first unit is working. If I succeed at the second unit I’ll even be money ahead. Of course if my yak had already been shaved maybe it could have tolerated the heat.)
Interestingly the best option for a refrigerant may be CO2 itself, which if collected from the atmosphere has no global warming or ozone depletion issues. The only drawback is CO2 refrigeration equipment has to operate at relatively high pressure, but this isn't a major problem:
Getting rid of the chloro-flouro stuff makes lots of sense, but not producing any of it in the first place would be even better.
It turns out running a business where you give people money in exchange for their junk is suprisingly harder than you would think.
Thus I am absolutely in agreement with recollecting, reselling, and reusing, but in strong opposition to destroying what would otherwise be useful. The latter only encourages the replacement of equipment in a continued cycle of forced obolescence, which might be far worse from a CO2 perspective.
I've always found it a little amusing that R152a, which is a pretty good replacement for R12, you can buy in "gas dusters" and legally vent all you want to the atmosphere, but it's technically illegal according to the EPA to recharge an R12 system with it.
This is from the viewpoint of someone who restores and repairs old appliances. Environmental considerations aside, I'd never vent deliberately, just because of how expensive and rare these substances are now --- and not surprisingly, there is an underground market for banned refrigerants too.
Thus, "you're throwing away money if you vent refrigerant" is probably going to have a much bigger effect than mentioning "climate change".
I knew the unit was into EoL based on age, but when something seems to work fine it's really hard feel like preemptive replacement is the right choice or priority.
At least in the US R-22 is so expensive and people still repair and recharge units not infrequently. Wonder how reasonable or possible capturing leaking refrigerant would be. I was watching it leak and vaguely wondered if it would be possible to catch in a large umbrella.
So a regular home refrigerator has about 60 grams of R600a in it. It has a global warming potential of 3. That means if you illegally vent it to the atmosphere, you are doing the same environmental harm as venting 180 grams of CO2.
However, if you hire a trained technician to extract the gas for you, and he drives 10 km to get to your house, then his van (a brand new average van getting 158 g/CO2 per km) will emit 1580 grams of CO2.
Considering this, it seems crazy to bother regulating this stuff.
I heard they're switching next year away from R410a to something new. But... not propane?
"The British government, concerned about the number of venomous cobras in Delhi, offered a bounty for every dead cobra. Initially, this was a successful strategy; large numbers of snakes were killed for the reward. Eventually, however, enterprising people began to breed cobras for the income."
However, in a fridge/freezer the refrigerant circulate in metallic tubes, usually made of copper which have great conductivity. And what do you think happen when you leave copper tubes unattended at night? Copper thieves come and scrap the fridge with no regards for the refrigerant being released to the atmosphere…
It was a huge political failure, which was completely focused on the "ozone hole" rather than making wise decisions. Just banning CFC's as propellants, and all the other uses which basically dumped huge quantities into the atmosphere and putting licensing requirements around their use, and enforcing the recapture (aka AC techs are tracked for how much they buy vs return), and not filling leaky systems would have solved the immediate problem. But the legislative bodies were also convinced to legislate a change in equipment/refrigerant to these newer compounds which had a huge positive effect on many manufactures and AC installers bottom line. And now we have to do it again because the people warning about the dangers of these new (frequently patented) refrigerant compounds were ignored.
Like the story about American democracy, this is going to be one of those cases of trying all the wrong approaches before doing the right thing.
Pro tip: there are certain advantages to living in a place where not everyone is an engineer in high tech.
This raises a few questions in my mind. TFA makes it sound like the refrigerant boogeyman is a problem of fixed quantity. It sounds like after we've destroyed all the refrigerant, it can cause no more harm, but clearly these refrigerants must be manufactured on a continual basis?
Can refrigerants not be recycled? What materials go into the creation of refrigerants? Is anything of value lost in destroying refrigerants, besides the energy that went into making them?
I'm confused about this remark about price. Isn't there a market of buyers and sellers? Why would one sell carbon credits below market price?
"Our plan is simple and has zero technical risk" What do you see as the biggest risk? And what is your assessment for why no one has pursued this approach before?
I've done it with my home office room A/C, a small 12,000 BTU unit. I couldn't believe it when I found out you can do that.
They say R290 is cleaner, purer, blah blah, but the gas from a simple propane tank you can get anywhere works fine. Remains to be seen for how long, so far 2 summers and going strong.
Edit: where is this 6% number coming from? https://ourworldindata.org/ghg-emissions-by-sector
Chemical & petrochemical (3.6%): energy-related emissions from the manufacturing of fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, refrigerants, oil and gas extraction, etc.
It’ll be really interesting to what happens as the next gen of refrigerants rolls out. There was a great link on hn recently about them but I’m unable to locate it.
Is it too much to roll down a window?
Why are those who don't use air conditioning paying the "environmental refrigerant tax"?
How much refrigerant would be saved if vehicle air conditioning was an additional expense?