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Guidance on refrigerant use

The IOR provides a range of guidance on the characteristics, design, installation, service and good practice use of all refrigerants.  Our policy is the promotion of the responsible use of refrigerants. A responsible refrigerant use policy places a high emphasis on the elimination of leak sources, the efficiency of the overall system and the life cycle cost of ownership.

Which Refrigerant should you select?

Energy Efficiency of refrigeration systems is governed by the laws of physics and by practicality.  Practicality embraces cost, cycle, legislative requirements, refrigerant choice and maintenance.  Efficiency is not only dependent on choice of refrigerant but also on good design, selection of an appropriate system and good maintenance.  Good efficiency is vital to minimize emissions of greenhouse gases.

To obtain ‘good efficiency’ attention needs to be given to the following steps:

  1. Avoid refrigeration / reduce the cooling load. This is the most important first step – there is no point designing an efficient system if the load was unnecessary!
  2. Get the overall system design right (e.g. best cycle, splitting loads at different temperatures onto different suction levels, etc. 
  3. Get the control philosophy right (don’t forget the “off-design” operating conditions which are much more common than the peak “design point”, avoid head pressure control, avoid partly loaded compressors, avoid fixed speed auxiliaries like pumps and fans, etc. etc.)
  4. Optimise individual components for efficiency (e.g. how big should heat exchangers be, which compressor has best efficiency etc.)
  5. Operate and maintain the plant for best efficiency.

Refrigerant Containment - REAL Zero

In 2009 the Institute of Refrigeration joined forces with the Carbon Trust and sponsors HRP, BOC and Marks & Spencers, in a major initiative to cut refrigerant leakage and improve the environmental performance of refrigeration plant."The F-Gas Regulation is sensibly based on the principle of containment, on the basis that refrigerant contained inside plant poses no threat to the environment," said IOR President Jane Gartshore "However, it is now vital that the industry delivers on this."  The Refrigerant Emissions and Leakage (REAL Zero) project outputs include a series of guidance notes based on site investigations and revisits to inspect for leakage.  See the results of the project and free Guidance notes for End Users, Designers and Service Personnel at


E-learning on Refrigerant Containment

The REAL Zero concept was developed into a multilingual e-learning programme with the support of the EU Leonardo Life Long Learning Programme, known as REAL SKILLS EUROPE. This includes Guidance and elearning (updated in 2015) as well as spreadsheets and to

ols for measuring the impact of leakage and savings of leakage reduction. All material and the elearnignprogramme is free to learners - a small charge for Certification and Assessment is made.


Alternative Refrigerants

The IOR has a wide range of guidance on the use of low GWP alterantives to HFC refrigerant. These include:

Safety Codes of Practice for Ammonia, Carbon Dioxide, Hydrocarbon refrigerants (free to members only)

Guidance notes and good practice guides (search the full list of publications)

Booklets and e-learning covering basic properties, design principles and leak reduction for alternative refrigerants were developed as part of an European Project called REAL Alternatives in 2015.  This was part funded by the EU Leonardo Life Long Learning programme and international partners who were educators and associations.  Free e-learning, booklets are available and a small charge for Certification and Assessment is made. The material is available in French, German, Polish, Dutch, Italian as well as English with other nations considering adopting the programme and extending the language options in 2016.