Background

supply and demand of air-conditioning is growing rapidly worldwide

The worldwide demand for refrigeration, air-conditioning (RAC) and foam is increasing steadily due to a growing population, increased urbanisation and economic growth. This is especially good news for developing countries: a functioning cold chain can prevent food going to waste; a refrigerator ensures proper storage of food and it therefore contributes to a family’s wellbeing; and cooling is often necessary for the development of competitive industries and services.

However, low efficiencies of equipment and high release rates of refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP) are the reasons why refrigeration, air conditioning and foam products are responsible for a significant share of global greenhouse gas emissions. The use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as refrigerants and foam blowing agents also used to be the major cause for ozone layer depletion.

Proklima supports partner countries in introducing and disseminating environmentally friendly technology that neither harm the ozone layer nor contribute to global warming. These technologies use natural refrigerants or foam blowing agents such as hydrocarbons, ammonia and CO2.

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Natural refrigerants and foam blowing agents

Natural refrigerants or foam blowing agents are substances occurring in nature. They include hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, ammonia, water and air. These natural substances do not contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer and have zero or negligible global warming impact. This is in contrast to synthetically made refrigerants and blowing agents such as CFCs and HCFCs, which have a high ozone depletion potential, and HFCs, which have a global warming potential. Natural refrigerants and foam blowing agents are highly efficient which also decreases energy demand and energy related indirect global warming effects. Used correctly, natural refrigerants and blowing agents are not only environmentally friendly, but also safe, cost- and energy-efficient alternatives to fluorinated substances.

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The ozone layer

Starting at the beginning of the 20th century, synthetic chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were used as refrigerants, aerosol propellants and foam blowing agents. But in 1974, American scientists Frank Sherwood Rowland und Mario Molina made a threatening discovery: CFCs were destroying ozone molecules in the earth`s stratosphere. These molecules form the ozone layer, creating a protective shield that absorbs particularly dangerous UV radiation. Without this layer, dangerous levels of UV radiation could directly reach the earth’s surface, causing genetic damage to the cells of people, plants and animals, thereby increasing skin cancer, eye cataracts and other diseases. Evidence of the thinning ozone layer and the discovery of an ozone hole over Antarctica resulted in a unique worldwide environmental agreement called the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer which was concluded in 1987.
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Climate protection

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and their successors hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) do not only deplete the ozone layer. They are also potent greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming and thereby accelerate climate change. So do hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which are in widespread use today. Since HFCs have no ozone depleting potential, they are not subject to the regulations of the Montreal Protocol. As greenhouse gases, HFCs are regulated under the Kyoto Protocol.

Contact

Bernhard Siegele
bernhard.siegele@giz.de
Phone: +49 6196 79-1968
Fax: +49 6196 7980-1968


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