The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week officially listed isobutane (R–600a) and R–441A as acceptable refrigerants in household refrigerators. Propane (R–290) was okayed for use in commercial stand-alone refrigerators. The EPA Final rule, published in the Federal Register Dec. 20, 2011, is effective on Feb. 21, 2012.
The new refrigerants were approved as a part of the EPA's Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. The refrigerants have been widely used in many appliance markets for decades, but flammability concerns made adoption slow in the United States.
The Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) noted a number of conditions imposed on the use of the new refrigerants, including:
• Household refrigerators must meet UL Standard 250.
• Retail refrigerators must meet UL Standard 471.
• Refrigerant charge in household refrigerators cannot exceed 2 ounces/57 grams.
• Refrigerant charge in commercial refrigerators cannot exceed 5.3 ounces/150 grams.
• Permanent safety markings are required on the equipment on the equipment.
• Service fittings must be different from the fittings used on equipment with non-flammable refrigerants.
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