Samsung Electronics designed the first full-sized household refrigerator models in the US and Canada to use R600a, a naturally occurring refrigerant with no ozone depletion potential and a low global warming potential of 3. These refrigerators provide an alternative to models that use hydrofluorocarbons, which are up to 12,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide as an agent causing climate change. Under the Obama Administration’s Climate Change Plan, EPA scheduled HFCs for household refrigerator applications to be phased out by January 2021.
Because of R600a’s flammability concerns, no other manufacturers succeeded in producing a full-sized refrigerator using R600a refrigerant, Samsung says. However, using special technology, Samsung successfully designed a full-size refrigerator that met the EPA’s Significant New Use Alternatives Policy Program limit for R600a of 57 grams per unit.
Samsung designed 15 commercially available models of a full-sized refrigerator that met the performance criteria required under EPA’s Energy Star Emerging Technology Award for Innovative Refrigerant Systems. In order to be eligible, the product had to contain a climate-friendly refrigerant with a global warming potential less than 15, demonstrate an energy efficiency gain of 5% or greater, establish that efficiency gains are isolated to the refrigerant or components needed to support the refrigerant system, and utilize a refrigerant that has been approved for use in the U.S. market and is listed as acceptable by EPA’s SNAP Program. In January 2017, EPA recognized Samsung Electronics with the Energy Star Emerging Technology Award.
These refrigerators support the EPA’s goal to phase out Class II substances by 2021 under the Clean Air Act. They use 6.5% less energy than the same unit with an HFC refrigerant. Additional benefits to end-users are increased energy savings and quieter operation.