R-22 vs R-410A – Why Was R-22 Refrigerant Phased Out?


HCFCs and the Ozone Layer

The stratospheric ozone layer shields the Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.  Emissions of certain synthetic chemicals – including CFCs, halons, and HCFCs (R-22) – destroy the ozone layer, and have created an “ozone hole” over the South Pole.

Through the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, the United States committed to a collaborative, international effort to regulate and phase out ozone-depleting substances. While the US phased out of CFCs and halons in the mid 90’s, we now must first limit HCFC consumption to a specific level and then reduce it in a step-wise fashion.

Phaseout of R-22 and R142b

  • HCFC-22 (also called R-22) and HCFC-142b are the next two HCFCs that the United States will phase out.  The schedule to phase out HCFCs is:

January 1, 2010 (WPI CONVERTS TO ALL R-410A OZONE-FRIENDLY refrigerant systems

  • Ban on production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b except for continuing servicing needs of existing equipment
  • Unlike alkyl halide refrigerants that contain bromine or chlorine, R-410A (which contains only fluorine) does not contribute to ozone depletion, and is therefore becoming more widely used, as ozone-depleting refrigerants like R-22 are phased out. However, it has a high global warming potential (2088 times the effect of carbon dioxide), similar to that of R-22.  Since R-410A allows for higher system efficiencies than an R-22 system, by reducing power consumption, the overall impact on global warming of R-410A systems will be substantially lower than that of R-22 systems due to reduced greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

January 1, 2015

  • Ban on sale and use of all HCFCs except for certain uses, including continuing servicing needs of refrigeration equipment

January 1, 2020

  • Ban on remaining production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b.  After 2020, the servicing of systems with R-22 will rely on recycled or stockpiled quantities.