Assessment of Low Global Warming Potential Refrigerants for Drop-In Replacement by Connecting their Molecular Features to Their Performance

Carlos G. Albà, Ismail I.I. Alkhatib, Fèlix Llovell, Lourdes F. Vega

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as an alternative for refrigeration units has grown over the past decades as a replacement to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), banned by the Montreal’s Protocol because of their effect on the depletion of the ozone layer. However, HFCs are known to be greenhouse gases with considerable global warming potential (GWP), thousands of times higher than carbon dioxide. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol has promoted an active area of research toward the development of low GWP refrigerants to replace the ones in current use, and it is expected to significantly contribute to the Paris Agreement by avoiding nearly half a degree Celsius of temperature increase by the end of this century. We present here a molecular-based evaluation tool aiming at finding optimal refrigerants with the requirements imposed by current environmental legislations in order to mitigate their impact on climate change. The proposed approach relies on the robust polar soft-SAFT equation of state to predict thermodynamic properties required for their technical evaluation at conditions relevant for cooling applications. Additionally, the thermodynamic model integrated with technical criteria enable the search for compatibility of currently used third generation compounds with more eco-friendly refrigerants as drop-in replacements. The criteria include volumetric cooling capacity, coefficient of performance, and other physicochemical properties with direct impact on the technical performance of the cooling cycle. As such, R1123, R1224yd(Z), R1234ze(E), and R1225ye(Z) demonstrate high aptitude toward replacing R134a, R32, R152a, and R245fa with minimal retrofitting to the existing system. The current modeling platform for the rapid screening of emerging refrigerants offers a guide for future efforts on the design of alternative working fluids.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)17034-17048
Number of pages15
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number50
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2021


  • Drop-in replacements
  • Environmentally friendly refrigerants
  • Hydrofluoroolefins
  • Molecular structure−thermophysical properties
  • Polar soft-SAFT
  • Vapor compression refrigeration


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