Department of Environment and Water Resources, November 2007
About the case studies
Much of the refrigeration and airconditioning equipment in Australia uses fluorocarbon refrigerants to facilitate the heat transfer process. Fluorocarbon refrigerants are synthetic chemicals which usually have a high global warming potential, and some still have the potential to cause damage to the ozone layer as well if released to the atmosphere.
Alternatives to these chemicals exist that can help to mitigate some of the environmental risks. Often referred to as 'natural' refrigerants because the substances also occur in nature, these alternatives include ammonia, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons.
These substances have been used as refrigerants for many years, however, they are now finding their way into applications where previously fluorocarbons were the preferred option.
This document has been put together to provide industry decision makers with more information on the potential of 'natural' refrigerants. It includes an overview of each of the alternatives, case studies on how they've been put to use in Australia, and pointers to some sources of further information.
The case studies are written in plain English, and attempt to give a realistic picture of how alternatives to fluorocarbon refrigerants were used in each case – the advantages they provided, the challenges that needed to be overcome, and the drivers behind each project.