Refrigerants and Foam Blowing Agents

The fast growing refrigeration, air-conditioning and foam blowing sectors have a huge and growing potential for greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. Most applications and systems in these sectors currently use ozone depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as cooling or foam blowing agents (typical applications include domestic and commercial installations, such as chillers, heat pumps, air-conditioners, and refrigeration equipment).

The use of refrigerants is essential to the process of cooling, which in turn has become an inevitable part of everyday life and various industries. Also, global foam production is constantly growing as demand for insulation foams for buildings and appliances rises.
Cooling and foam blowing agents can be classified either as chemical or as natural agents. Chemical refrigerants and foam blowing agents are harmful to the environment - they can cause ozone layer depletion and are powerful greenhouse gases. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), included in the family of chemical substances also known as Freons, have given rise to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in 1987. The Montreal Protocol has been ratified by 197 countries and regulates the phase-out of substances that cause ozone depletion such as CFCs and HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons). Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have become a popular replacement for CFCs and HCFCs since they pose no harm to the ozone layer. Nevertheless, HFCs are greenhouse gases with high global warming potential and belong to the fluorinated gases addressed by the Kyoto Protocol.

In contrast to those chemical substances, natural refrigerants and foam blowing agents -such as ammonia (NH3), carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrocarbons, air, and water- do not harm the ozone layer and have zero or negligible global warming impact. Thus, converting to natural refrigerants is crucial for the establishment of ozone- and environment-friendly cooling systems.

Using this approach, GIZ’s Proklima programme, on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), works with various applications of cooling technologies available for technology transfer in partner countries to assist them in developing ''green growth economies''.

The Green Cooling Initiative

The Green Cooling Initiative (GCI) Website provides sector-specific data and useful material on technologies, regulations, market trends, funding and emission reduction potentials on a country by country level. Moreover, it gives access to knowledge and brings people together working on the same goal: Promoting green cooling worldwide.

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