Propane and LPG blends as a refridgerant replacement

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Mattelderca
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Propane and LPG blends as a refridgerant replacement

Post by Mattelderca » Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:24 pm

Some co-workers and I have been discussing propane and other hydrocarbon blends as refrigerant replacements today. I have stirred the pot quite a bit by doing some research on this. One particular brand, Red Tek, is being promoted in part stores here in Ontario, Canada. It, apparently, is a propane and isobutane blend. They push it as a R12/R134a replacement for the DIY'er! Are there any refrigeration pros here that can add an opinion? Some go on at length of the merits of these blends, others say just fix the system and use the proper stuff. I am not sure myself, researching it has got me wondering if LPG's are an alternative. A safe one. If it is so good why are HC blends illegal in some US states?
Thoughts??


franz
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HC refrigerant

Post by franz » Fri Jun 29, 2007 9:21 am

In the US, it is illegal to use any HC blend in any refrigeration system where human contact can occur. HC blends can be used in commercial refrigeration however, as long as people are not present.

Take a look at:
http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/refrigerants/hc-12a.html

and that is the official position of the US government.

That said and done, we all know that there are many suppliers of HC refrigerants, just do a Google for "HC Refrigerants". The alternative refrigerants seem to work well, as long as the compressor oils are compatible with the product. Straight propane and butane are not compatible with many lubricants and the compressors will burn out in short order (dont ask how I know!).

There was one well published night news channel that demonstrated a HC serviced auto with a leaking evaporator coil that was then subjected to a cigarette lighter (flame type). It blew the windows out and although it is debatable if it would be fatal, the occupants would have been severely burned and probable loss of eyesight and hearing.

Franz

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Post by turbine guy » Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:18 pm

"Bout every gas plant in Alberta uses propane as a refrigerant. (And there are a lot of gas plants in AB.) I've been using RedTek in my old beaters for three years now, working fine. My home is geothermal heated/cooled, and I would have used propane here too, if Nordic Geothermal hadn't told me their warranty would not be valid if I used 'pane. It really tees me off to have to hire a HVAC tech to charge my system, when I worked at a gas company for 18.5 years.
HC refrigerants seem to be fine, like Frank says, make sure you use good lubricating oil.

turbine guy

franz
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cool

Post by franz » Thu Jul 03, 2008 8:58 am

Propane is classified as a refrigerant and it is used in many commercial installations. There is even a refrigerant grade propane (99.975% pure propane) but it can only be transported in dedicated transports, no prior use with any product that contains sulfur. It is illegal to use any flammable refrigerant product anywhere human contact can occur and that is pretty much universal, but it is not illegal to make or sell it, only to install it.

I know, we should all drive the speed limit, but I also know that many of us drive faster, some of us to get somewhere faster, but some of us speed, just because we can. We take our chances with not getting caught and if we do, we also have to accept the penalty.

Now about your home. If your energy supplier is providing the heat, I guess they can specify what product is used, but that is probably a requirement of the company agreements.

Thanks for staying with the propane industry for more than 18 years, it takes dedication, perseverance, and more than a little frustration.

Franz

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Mattelderca
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Post by Mattelderca » Thu Jul 03, 2008 10:13 am

Well, I've been doing alot more research on this and I have come to the decision to use it. It is not ileagle in Ontario to do so providing all standard conversion practices are followed and the systems labelled. Of course the system that has some R12 left in it will be properly recovered before any work is done on it. I have two systems to repair and look forward to the learning experiance. I will let you know how it all works out. And Franz, I trust your expertise, but the US laws regarding the use of HC refrigerants are very confusing and vary from state to state. Apparently it is allowed in some states depending on how the conversion is done. I have seen many debates on this and even the AC experts cannot agree. The propaganda from both sides is very polarized!

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laws

Post by franz » Thu Jul 03, 2008 2:01 pm

In the US, the EPA sets the minimum standards, all states MUST comply with these unless they are enhanced. No state will allow HC refrigerants, legally, but we all know they are being used. I do not know what Canada uses though. Many manufacturers of the HC blends claim that the EPA SNAP program does not apply to them but when you check with the EPA, it is clearly stated.

One thing you will probably encounter is the separation of the refrigerant lubricants. The oils in R-12 are not compatible with LPG and you will probably lose the compressor.

Keep us informed on your controlled study/research project, and of course, we all know you are not doing this for any commercial gain, dont we!

Franz

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Post by Mattelderca » Thu Jul 03, 2008 3:45 pm

NO comercial gain, for sure.
But on to the oil compatibilty thing. ALL I have read from both sides says mineral (R12 compatible) oil is miscibil in propane, or rightfully a 60/40 mix of propane and isobutane. I am always open to new info!

Some links on this if interested,
http://yarchive.net/ac/oils.html
http://www.hc-tech.com/forum/pages/messages/388.html

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Post by turbine guy » Thu Jul 03, 2008 7:56 pm

Mattelderca: Check out Red Teks' website as well. They sell lubricants specifically formulated for HC based refrigerants. Currently, I'm heating my home with a 65,000 Btu geothermal unit, using direct expansion of the freon in the ground loops. (This unit is forced air only.) I'm adding a second geothermal unit rated at 35,000 Btu for solely hot water production, and for this unit, I'm willing to try the HC refrigerant.
Thanks for the heads up Franz, I will investigate the lubricant issue a bit more before plunging in.

turbine guy

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Mattelderca
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Post by Mattelderca » Fri Jul 04, 2008 8:09 am

Yes, I've seen the Red Tek site, and the Duracool, and the envirosafe, and some others. If you go by red tek then propane/isobutane is compatable with all oils. I have two systems to work with, one will be a test bed as the system was trashed before I started. I am not concerened if I lose the compressor. Just need to pay attention to creating a sealed system, as one should anyway. I will not tollerate one of these "add a can or two a year" deals!

Just an edit to add a bunch of links,
http://www.aircondition.com/sitesearch. ... arbon#1193

http://www.hc-tech.com/forum/

http://www.imcool.com/articles/aircondi ... t_Fire.php

http://www.aircondition.com/wwwboard/al ... /7348.html

www.redtek.ca
http://www.duracool.com/
http://yarchive.net/ac/hydrocarbon_recipes.html

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