Refrigerants used in vapor-compression air conditioners and heat pumps have been the subject of environmental regulations requiring the need to develop alternative solutions with lower global warming potential (GWP). In general, there is a trade-off when choosing alternative refrigerants between safety, performance, and GWP.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved a new regulation requiring refrigerants used in all new stationary residential air conditioning systems to have a 100-year GWP value of 750 or less. For reference, the most common refrigerant currently used in unitary air conditioning equipment is R-410A, which has a 100-year GWP of 2,088.
A number of refrigerant solutions have been developed to meet the CARB GWP requirement, but the majority of these refrigerants have a low level of flammability (A2L). While there are strategies for mitigating the risk of using flammable refrigerants, finding a non-flammable solution presents the easiest path to market and would not require additional safety controls and updates to codes and standards.