40 TH ANNIVERSARY 1979 - 2019

Refrigeration Systems and Climate Change: From problem to solutions

Refrigeration systems are essential in various sectors, from the food industry to housing. However, these systems also have a significant impact on the environment. F-gases used in refrigeration systems contribute to climate change. For example, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) can retain heat in the atmosphere for a long time.

The use of these gases can lead to an increase in the average temperature of the planet. The consequences are plain to see. Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, and air quality is deteriorating. The alternative emerges on two fronts: refrigerant gases with less impact on global warming and more efficient technologies.

Before moving on to a specific solution, there is an important stop. Understand this relationship between refrigeration systems and climate change. That’s the purpose of this article. Let’s go back to where we started and what alternatives exist today for this area.

Natural refrigerants and new technologies for more sustainable solutions

Previously, the most used refrigerant gases were chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). However, it was concluded that CFCs weaken the ozone layer. They were therefore banned from the late 1980s. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have emerged as substitutes. What changes? F-gases are among the most powerful greenhouse gases. They have a very large impact compared to carbon dioxide (CO2), sometimes thousands of times greater.

Today, the focus is on CO2. One of the ways to make refrigeration systems more eco-friendly is by using natural refrigerants. Carbon dioxide has a low impact on global warming and high energy efficiency. For example, the Global Warming Potential (GWP) is only 1.

At the same time, this natural gas has important thermodynamic properties, namely higher density, vapour specific heat, working pressure, and specific cooling capacity, among others. Its non-flammable and non-toxic nature also makes it a safer option. It is therefore the ideal solution for refrigeration.

On energy efficiency, technology is also an important point. More efficient equipment will consume less energy. And therefore, they will emit fewer greenhouse gases when producing electricity. The improvement and advancement in compressors are an example of alternatives in this area. Compressors are the heart of refrigeration systems.

How Europe sees this relationship

Many countries are taking steps to limit and even eliminate the use of f-gases in refrigeration. Since 2012, the European Union has evolved and revised the targets it has set itself. For example, in that year, the European Parliament approved a roadmap for the transition to a competitive economy. The assumption was to create a path to low carbon emissions by 2050.

The F-Gas Regulation goes into more detail. This document set targets to reduce the consumption of these refrigerant gases by 2030. This proposal led to a 20% reduction in emissions between 2014 and 2020. The supply of HFCs to the market decreased by 47% relative to CO2 between 2015 and 2019.

On 30th March 2023, the European Parliament amended a regulation launched in April 2022 on fluorinated gases. What are the changes? First, there is a focus on certification and training programs. Secondly, the use of refrigeration equipment with these gases will be gradually banned.

There are two main objectives for these measures and regulations. Reduce emissions that harm the environment and bring in alternatives that are more energy efficient. In the end, innovation, technology, and governments come together to power a more sustainable economy.


Adopting refrigeration systems with a positive environmental footprint is a reality. With the increase in the earth’s temperature and melting ice, among other consequences, it is urgent to have practices in this area that protect the planet. Businesses have a key role. Investing in technology development is an initiative with a positive outcome. Discover our applications.

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