M.S. Thesis: Comparison of Environmental Impacts and Physical Properties of Refrigerants

By Ko Matsunaga

Advisor: Professor Nickolas J. Themelis

Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering
Fu Foundation School of Engineering & Applied Science
Columbia University

May 2002

The ozone depletion is a global problem like global warming. However, the choice of alternative refrigerants is domestic issues involving recycling or disposal of refrigerants. Each government must decide which criteria for the ideal refrigerant should be relaxed in order to maximize the benefits of refrigeration systems and minimize the environmental impacts. This study has made it clear that the operation stage is the key factor for determining the environmental impact of various refrigerants. There is less impact to the environment in the production and disposal stages, even what refrigerants are assumed to be vented to the atmosphere. Therefore, the government and consumers should focus on energy’ saving programs, such as refund by New York State and the Energy Star Program by EPA and the U.S. Dept. of Energy, instead of accelerating changes of refrigerants that have less impact than the operation stage. The information developed in this study on the environmental impacts and the properties of various refrigerants can be used by designers in seeking to provide better and environmentally friendlier refrigeration and air conditioning systems.

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