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R290 and R32: The Battle for Supremacy of Refrigerant Substitute

by Linus Li 28 Nov 2022 0 Comments


  1. What is R290?
  2. What is R32?
  3. The Battle and History for Supremacy of Refrigerant Substitute
  4. Performance Comparison of R32, R410A
  5. Pros and Cons of R290
  6. Which is the better refrigerant substitute?
  7. Brief history and GSEICE Promise
  8. Conclusion

The two most common refrigerant substitutes, R290 and R32, have been battling it for supremacy for years.

In this post, we'll take a look at the pros and cons of each type of refrigerant: R290 and R32, to see which one comes out on top.

What is R290?

R290, also known as propane, is a colorless and odorless gas. It is a hydrocarbon with the chemical formula C3H8 and is classified as a flammable gas. R290 is used as a refrigerant in commercial and industrial refrigeration systems and as an aerosol propellant. R290 has a global warming potential (GWP) of 3.


R290 is one of several possible substitutes for the commonly used refrigerant R22. When used as a refrigerant, R290 has advantages over other options, such as R134a and R410a. For example, R290 is less expensive than R134a, and its GWP is much lower than R134a or R410a. However, due to its flammability, care must be taken when handling and using R290.


What is R32?

R32 is a refrigerant gas used as a substitute for Freon in air conditioners. This gas has a lower GWP than Freon and does not deplete the ozone layer, making it more environmentally friendly. Additionally, R32 does not deplete the ozone layer.


The Battle and History for Supremacy of Refrigerant Substitute

The history of the battle for supremacy of refrigerant substitutes is long and complicated.

In the early days, many different types of refrigerants were vying for supremacy. Some of this included ammonia, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). Each had its advantages and disadvantages, and the battle for supremacy was fierce.

Eventually, the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987, phasing out CFCs and HCFC production. It left HFCs as the primary refrigerant used in most applications. However, HFCs are now being phased out due to their contribution to climate change. This has led to a new battle for supremacy among refrigerant substitutes.

The most promising substitutes include natural refrigerants such as ammonia and carbon dioxide. These substitutes have much lower global warming potential than HFCs, making them much more environmentally friendly. However, they also come with their own set of challenges. For example, ammonia is a toxic gas that must be handled carefully, and carbon dioxide can only be used in certain types of refrigeration systems.

The battle for supremacy of refrigerant substitutes is ongoing, and it is not clear which substitute will ultimately emerge victorious. What is clear is that the future of refrigeration lies in environmentally friendly alternatives to HFCs.

Performance Comparison of R32, R410A

The two most common refrigerant substitutes are R32 and R410A. Let's take a closer look at how they compare in terms of performance.

R32 has a lower global warming potential than R410A, making it a more environmentally friendly option. Additionally, it can operate at higher temperatures and pressures than R410A, making it ideal for use in high-performance applications. However, R32 is also flammable, which could pose a safety risk in some situations.

R410A, on the other hand, is non-flammable and has a slightly higher global warming potential than R32. It can also handle lower temperatures and pressures than R32, making it a good choice for use in cooler environments. In terms of performance, R410A is generally considered to be the better option overall.

Pros and Cons of R290

There are pros and cons to both R290 and R32. Let's take a look at each one:

R290 (propane) – Pros

  1. R290 is a naturally occurring refrigerant, making it environmentally friendly.
  2. It has zero Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP), meaning it doesn't contribute to the depletion of the ozone layer.
  3. It has a low Global Warming Potential (GWP), meaning it doesn't contribute significantly to global warming.
  4. It's less expensive than some other refrigerants on the market.

R290 (propane) – Cons

  1. R290 is flammable, so extra care must be taken when handling and using it. There is a risk of explosion if it leaks and comes into contact with an ignition source.
  2. It has high pressure, so refrigeration systems using R290 must be designed accordingly to manage this pressure safely. This can add to the overall cost of the system.

Which is the better refrigerant substitute?

The chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerant Freon has been used in air conditioners and refrigerators for many years. However, CFCs are now known to harm the Earth's ozone layer. As a result, Freon has been phased out and is being replaced by two new types of refrigerant - hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) and hydrofluorocarbon (HFC).

So, which is the better substitute? HCFCs have been found to be only slightly less harmful to the ozone layer than CFCs. On the other hand, HFCs do not harm the ozone layer. In addition, HFCs are much more efficient than HCFCs, meaning that they use less energy and release fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

So, if you're looking for a safe and efficient refrigerant substitute, HFCs are the way to go!

Brief history and GSEICE Promise

As people become increasingly concerned about protecting the ozone sphere and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is urgent to find replacements for refrigerants. But because the project involves a wide range of difficult options, countries worldwide are extremely cautious regarding the choice of environmental refrigerant.


Internationally there are two distinct alternatives. The first is R410A and R32, adopted by the U.S. and Japan, but R410A, due to high GWP (2088), is just a transitional substitute. R32 (ODP: 0, GWP: 675) refrigerant is highly recommended by Japanese enterprises.

gseice production line

The second alternative is R290 (ODP: 0, GWP under 20), mainly adopted by China and European countries such as Germany and Sweden, etc. Wang Lei, the Vice President of China Household Electrical Appliance Association, once interpreted the advantage of R290 over other refrigerants when applied to air conditioners. She pointed out that: "Currently, the mainly adopted types of refrigerant are R22 and R410A with emission of CO2 equivalent of 1.1 billion tons. If R290 replaces all, the emission will be reduced to a CO2 equivalent of 530,000 tons."

In 2014, Europe issued the F-gas amendment act to accelerate carbon emissions reduction in environmental refrigerant substitution regulation. Currently, R290 has been verified in the European market of mobile air conditioning and heat pumps.

GSEICE dedicate to refrigeration equipment production and cares about the environment. The refrigerants used in our equipment comply with local standards and do not harm the environment. Please buy our refrigeration equipment with confidence.

gseice team


R290 and R32 are great substitutes for traditional refrigerants, but they each have unique benefits and drawbacks.

Ultimately, it's up to you to decide which is right for your needs. We hope this article has helped you understand the differences between R290 and R32 so that you can make an informed decision about which is right for you.

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