Support / FAQs / About techtown

Home Forums R-290 PROPANE

  • R-290 PROPANE

    guest created 1 year, 8 months ago 1 Member · 25 Posts
  • guest

    Member
    March 13, 2017 at 12:00 am

    This is for all the cold side guys out there. Has anyone started to train and gather resources and training for R-290? We have some manufacturers that are converting over to propane in all their domestic units. I understand all the minimal environmental impact it’s supposed to have. Now there are special procedures for tapping the system. Some sort of crimping and bands. Minimal soldering. Just want to know if anyone else sees an industry lean to this refrigerant. 

     

    -Joe

  • izzygreen

    Member
    March 13, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Most of our manufactures are talking about switching over to propane. Haven’t paid much attention because we’re not equipped for it, but it seems that is the way to go these days

  • Techjoeb

    Member
    March 13, 2017 at 11:42 am

    We are training our techs on it because our manufacturers are going that way. We are starting to ensure all of the Warranty repair companies are starting to get trained/certified. The specialized equipment isn’t much investment honestly. Just know the industry is going to creep that way. 

     

    -Joe

  • fixbear

    Member
    March 13, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    It’s funny how we go in circles.  We started with R717 and the old monitor top’s.  Anyone who has worked with it has had their burns and breathing problems.  Now we are going to R290 without a smell additive. That’s scary and just a matter of time for a major accident.  I don’t like the 400 blends, as they are zeotrophic and have a lot of glide, need to be liquid installed, and if the system has a leak on the low side one has to dump it all to have the right percentages.  Let’s face it, anyone that has found a receiver in a compressor room that had a rust or vibration crack near the bottom knows that the room fills up with refrigerant to such high levels that a air torch or halide detector will not even burn.  Now we introduce a flammable gas and have a contactor arc.  Oh Boy, Gonna be a hot time in the old town tonight.. 

     

    As for crimping and bands,  There are a lot of domestic appliances that use crimp epoxy joints since the late eighties.  They suck and eventually leak.   Automotive also tried it for a short time in the late eighties.   Didn’t work out.  Give me charge valves and nitrogen.  Combustable leak detectors have been out for decades,  .

  • izzygreen

    Member
    March 14, 2017 at 9:21 am

    My company isn’t equipped to handle any type of gas or refrigerant so we usually sub out those type of calls,  while my training includes nothing I’ve picked up allot over the years but we tend to stick with electrical and mechanical appliances. Of course we always get that one client who wants us to do all the work and then the boss is mad at me for not doing the job because he wont equip me with the needed fittings and tools

  • Techjoeb

    Member
    March 14, 2017 at 9:25 am

    The thing with R-290 is it’s such a small amount, it’s less than a lighter full. Would they use them in larger industrial reefers and AC units? I honestly dunno. 

  • fixbear

    Member
    March 14, 2017 at 11:13 am

    150 grams of liquid can still be dangerous.  Not being able to smell it worries me.  I realize that the window of flammability is very narrow with propane.  That’s why it’s used in all the stunt work.  But like R717, OSHA will make it totally impossible to use once it becomes popular.  They required built in ventilation with 2 min air change,  Masonry room,  SCBA  training, certification, and packs,  Full coverage PBI suits.  Heavy rubber gloves,  Carbon dioxide flooding system.  Face shield, and rubber apron.  So unless the system is over 1000 tons, it just isn’t practical. Yet it is the most efficient refrigerant there is.  One can still do absorption units, but you have to build a fireproof service area. and have Hydrogen licensing.  And the insurance for that isn’t cheap..

     

    150 G is two lighter refill containers, not a lighter full. Most of them hold 2.5 to 5 G.

  • Techjoeb

    Member
    March 16, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    So from what I read it’s comparable to R22. Here is True posting a video on YouTube: True’s R-290 Refrigerant Recovery System – YouTube 

     

    -Joe 

  • Techjoeb

    Member
    March 16, 2017 at 4:52 pm
  • ectofix

    Member
    March 16, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    R290.  A hydrocarbon.

     

    I’ll share some things regarding hydrocarbon refrigerants that I’d written about three years ago.  I had a genuine interest on this topic then, but I’m not doing refrigeration now.  Nonetheless, I had enough interest to “put my pen to paper”…so to speak, so I might as well share it here.

     

    These “copied & pasted” writings are dated, so may not be entirely accurate as of today.  I’ll also add some things about ILLEGAL hydrocarbon refrigerants too

     

    .These will also be long.  Sorry about that.  So, I won’t post them all at once.

     

     

    If you’re going to be doing refrigeration (or HVAC), you’ll need to have your head wrapped around the possible implications.

  • ectofix

    Member
    March 17, 2017 at 5:40 am

    Here’s a link to the first:  Proposed EPA rulemaking – hydrocarbon refrigerants

     

    I’d thrown that together in July 2014.  This was the product of my research on the EPA’s proposed new ruling on hydrocarbon refrigerants:

  • ectofix

    Member
    March 22, 2017 at 7:38 pm

    BELOW is my second entry about hydrocarbon refrigerants.

     

    FIRST, keep in mind that when production of all R22 equipment ceased in 2010, the the price of R22 escalated.  The consumer market was screaming for ways to keep older home AC units running when the price for doing so went up.  The alternatives were to incur exorbitant repair costs for fixing older systems…or to replacing the entire system altogether with a system using R410A.

     

    So…the international market-place stepped in order to offer a substitute refrigerant.  R22A.

     

    R22A?  It’s is pretty much…R290.  However, products using R290 wasn’t yet fully recognized by the EPA as SNAP-approved alternatives in 2013.  As such, the R22A moniker (for anyone that Googled R22) popped up as an easily recognized variation.  It was marketed as the cure-all for a woe-begotten solution to leaking R22 home HVAC systems.

     

    Companies such as  FrostyCool-22A (Yup. Broken link now. Not available), EcoFreeez, Enviro-safe and Red Tek marketed R22A. R22A so happened to remain “under the radar” for a few years, so people were able to buy it and squirt it into their systems.  These people scooped it up as the cheaper alternative to getting proper repairs done by a creditable service company.

     

    Even a U.S.-based company called “Rural King” pushed the stuff…and went so far as to produce a commercial that advertised it for awhile on YouTube (which I don’t have a copy of.  Otherwise, I’d share it.).

     

     The EPA got wind of all this and hired the FBI to police up this situation.  The FBI published a VICTIM ASSITANCE article titled Seeking Victims in the Matter of Super-Freeze 22a and Other Flammable Refrigerants  in order to intervene.

     

    I have NO doubt that there are REFRIGERATION systems out there in our grand old free-market USA (particularly WALK-IN units) that got converted to…R22A.  Whether done by an owner of said equipment…or by a seedy technician.

     

    Anyway.  Here’s a little write-up I did back in 2014 to dissuade Amazon shoppers from buying this stuff:

     

    Questions and Answers about R-22a

  • Techjoeb

    Member
    March 23, 2017 at 8:24 am

    So I wonder what the big 180 on the propane if at one time it was illegal. Probably lack of alternatives. Good write up there ectofix

  • ectofix

    Member
    March 23, 2017 at 5:34 pm

    techjoeb wrote:

     

    So I wonder what the big 180 on the propane if at one time it was illegal. Probably lack of alternatives. Good write up there ectofix

    Why the turn-around?  Because propane is a product of nature.  Otherwise, HFCs (R134a, R404a, etc.) are NOT natural and are considered greenhouse gases.

     

    HFCs primarily came about in the late ’80s and into the ’90s to replace CFCs (such as R12 & R502) and HCFCs (like R22) that were all ultimately banned by the Montreal Protocol of 1989. All were suspected of being ozone depleting substances (ODS).

     

    In 2006, the Kyoto Protocol put their sites on greenhouse gases and pointed fingers at substances having a high global warming potential (GWP) index.  HFCs – the synthetic blends that were developed to replace all of those awful CFCs and HCFCs – were all high on their new hit list.

     

    According to them, propane’s GWP index is inconsequential when compared to all of those synthetic blends that we see in refrigeration systems now.  R134a and R404a have a very high GWP index.  So…we will ultimately see those (and others) being phased out very soon.

     

    Regarding the legalities of propane as a refrigerant?  Well…

     

    • Makers of R290 sought its approval for use through proper and legal regulatory channels.  There were distinct limitations for its use.  Ultimately, it got SNAP approved.  Therefore we’re now seeing products in commercial kitchens with it in it.  All are units manufactured within those prescribed system size limitations and engineered to avoid possibilities of ignition if those systems developed a leak.
      • Once again, note that EXISTING systems CANNOT be converted to a hydrocarbon refrigerant.  It had to leave the factory that way.
    • Makers of R22a bypassed those regulations, advertised it as a suitable replacement for R22 and directed their sales to ignorant folks having existing R22 systems who were simply looking for a cheaper way to keep their system running.  SO…systems devoid of any special components or design criteria that could eliminate the possibility of igniting the propane refrigerant if the system so happened to develop a leak.
      • Most OFTEN, their target customers were those people whose home HVAC system was on the fritz and wanted a cheap fix.  Systems with many POUNDS of refrigerant coursing through its line-sets.
  • fixbear

    Member
    March 23, 2017 at 6:44 pm

    Most of you are to young to remember what happened in the early 90″s.. The science proving ozone depletion was paid for by Dow due to the patents running out on Freon (R12) in the late eighties. The market started to get flooded by a lot of brands from originally one.  Dow built a 2 billion dollar factory in India to sell there new R134.  Problem was R12 was $25 for 30 lb’s.  It cost Dow $125 to make there new refrigerant.  So they commissioned studies and politicized Ozone depletion. Fact is R12 is heavier than air, Takes 75 years to migrate to the south pole, and requires a very precise 234 below zero with sun to break down R12 into the chlorine atom Florine atom that makes the problem.  Never any mention of all the chlorine from pools, and water systems that becomes airborne as it is heated to 70 degrees. It’s the only way to make economical  safe drinking water.  Also no mention that R134 was a carcinogen where R12 was totally safe till you burned it. 

     

       Now we have corporations wanting  us to use a Highly flammable A3 refrigerant . Glad I retired!!  

  • olivero

    Member
    March 23, 2017 at 9:48 pm

       Now we have corporations wanting  us to use a Highly flammable A3 refrigerant . Glad I retired!!  “

     

    Lol. 

     

    Let’s see how I do with that stuff 

  • fixbear

    Member
    March 24, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Just remember, 150 grams of liquid will make over 3 cubic meters or pure gas.  And propane has a window of flammability of 2.8 to 9.2.  So at 3% one can make enough explosive gas to fill 297 cu meter room.  All it takes is one spark or arc. Like you vacuum pump motor/switch. 

     

       If you don’t think that propane can be that dangerous, The military has what they term a NBUE bomb that they drop from a c130 to make landing zones  They disperse the propane above the area, allow it to mix with air and settle to the ground,  then spark.  Instant quater mile LZ. 

     

       On a side, This is going to make some engineers design different.  To keep the refrigerant level down,  they will undersized tubing lines and condenser tubing, dryers, and liquid distances. Like  longer cap tubes with a slightly larger diameter.  In 1986 a manufacturer tried to place the dryer crystals inside the condenser tubes with a screen crimped into the condenser tail .  We had a lot of failures from them plugging up over time.  Vibration made the crystals shed powder being loose in the tubing.  They always made it through the warranty though.

  • Techjoeb

    Member
    March 24, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    I know there are a lot of negative and scary thoughts floating around with this coming change but I’m really interested on how the industry will adapt and what we will go to next IF the industry decides this is too nutty. 

     

    -Joe

  • ectofix

    Member
    March 26, 2017 at 5:11 am

    Here’s my third installment on the topic –

     

    Joe started this topic to question whether we think the industry is, indeed, leaning towards the use of R290.  I’ll continue to elaborate on the fact that it is.  Both, legally…AND illegally.

     

    Why?  Because, as refrigeration techs…you might unsuspectingly encounter it in systems that aren’t marked with it in it…and hopefully you’ll just lose your eyebrows or a little hair in your discovery that it was improperly put into a system.

     

    ACTUALLY, I say that with hopes that you DON’T…and will approach any refrigeration repair with more caution after reading all of this. 

     

    SO…you’all probably already know that other countries have been far less regulated on the introduction of flammable refrigerants into their systems.  Although, our European brethrens and Australia get lotsa credit for attempting to put some regulation to its use (3rd world countries?  Not so much).  Europe and Australia have become the testing grounds for where the U.S. might ultimately go with regards to hydrocarbons.  For that matter, the THE AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF REFRIGERATION, AIR CONDITIONING AND HEATING (AIRAH) put out THIS quite detailed safety guide for its usage.

     

    Nevertheless, here’s an unfortunate incident where an Australian refrigeration tech lost more than just his hair:

     

    Coolstore hydrocarbon refrigerant injures technician

     

    Our relatively open market-place of the internet had managed to bypass our EPA regulations for awhile.  So R290 (R22a in its ILLEGAL form) was bought and sold in the U.S. as the cheaper alternative to conventional HVAC system repair…or replacement.

     

    Over at Amazon (and other places on the web), proponents of it argued that CONVERTING to a flammable refrigerant is no less hazardous than, say… having a gas stove in your home or a gas grill outside…or driving around in a vehicle with 20 gallons of gasoline strapped to its undercarriage…and to go so far as to accuse those of us in our HVAC/R trades that consumers finding a cheaper alternative (converting systems to R22a) was affecting our profits and was the reason why we put so much emphasis on its hazards.

     

    As a rebuttal, I put together some facts.  Here’s a copy of a post I made in response to their maligned views of the hazards of hydrocarbon refrigerants.  FWIW, I didn’t engage in their ignorant arguments.  I simply laid out the facts to them.  I DO know that Amazon no longer sells the stuff (certainly due to the EPA/FBI collaboration and intervention):

     

    FUEL-GASES versus FLAMMABLE REFRIGERANTS

  • ectofix

    Member
    March 28, 2017 at 6:37 pm

    So far, I’ve shared copies of these three documents that I’d written several years ago:

     

    Proposed EPA rulemaking – hydrocarbon refrigerants

     

    Questions and Answers about R-22a

     

    FUEL-GASES versus FLAMMABLE REFRIGERANTS

     

    Please take note that fixbear contributed to several of those postings.  You should find his comments to be beneficial and enlightening, so please click on the links above to read those too.

     

     

    Here’s my FINAL write-up regarding hydrocarbon refrigerants:

     

    HC Refrigerant Usage in Larger USA Systems?

  • guest

    Member
    February 6, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Would like to know how Godrej (from India) is using R290 with out any risk issues in home airconditioners with NO incident reported? More than 100,000 units sold as per company. Do you think some issues will arise in the future when any one use in home?

  • fixbear

    Member
    February 6, 2018 at 7:42 am

    Law’s and reporting are different in India.  It is possible to design to w heavier spec that would not give problems,  (like the Mars rover) but at what cost. North American and European manufacturers tend to try and keep the cost down and profits up. Design to the absolute minimum that will reliably get past the warranty period.  CAD design and testing has made it get even closer.  In the sixties it was common practice to design 150% over.  Today 115%. Not much room for error in building or materials.

  • ectofix

    Member
    February 6, 2018 at 8:08 pm

    It doesn’t matter what’s NOT happened in India.  I’m relaying views of it as it applies here in the U.S.A.:

     

    From abroad, here’s some random news about incidences regarding hydrocarbons as a refrigerant.  I’m sure there are more:

     

    Hydrocarbon refrigerants have an ASHRAE classification as A3.  A3 = higher (highest) flammability.  The market in the U.S.A. will likely veer towards usage of a safer A2L classification or better:

     

    Daikin innovations will likely be the catalyst for our NEXT AC systems to replace R410A – which our current market sells:

     

    R32 is a blend which still includes use of refrigerants that have a higher GWP.  However, it still has a lower GWP than straight-up R410A.   It will likely to become primary in the market due to its lower flammability than the straight-up hydrocarbon R290 (and its illegal variation as R22A).

     

    For the refrigeration market side of things, HFOs might be the direction it takes:

     

    No matter how you look at it, any current HVAC/R technician has just GOT to be saying “Jeez!  I thought I had it bad in 1992!  I can’t wait to retire NOW!!!”

  • olivero

    Member
    February 6, 2018 at 9:01 pm

    It’s all very interesting, I don’t have a need to go to R290 but I will need to switch over all my walk in refrigerators so they aren’t using R22 and that’s my main concern in all this right now. 2 more years and then we are screwed.

  • fixbear

    Member
    February 7, 2018 at 10:10 am

    If you have any that were mineral oil, start oil changes now to flush it out. It takes a minimum of 4 changes to get it low enough for the Polyoester to not react. Copeland  provided me a refactometer for testing it. (optical hydrometer)

Log in to reply.

Original Post
0 of 0 posts June 2018
Now