ATMOsphere, publisher of, has published a Refrigerant Fact Sheet for ice rink owners that explains the differences between natural refrigerants and HFO blend R513A when it comes to environmental impact and regulatory actions.

Ammonia/NH3 (R717) is a natural refrigerant that has long been used for ice rink refrigeration, and CO2 (R744) systems are beginning to be used. But in recent years R513A and other HFO blends (R448A and R449A) have been heavily marketed by chemical manufacturers as sustainable alternatives. 

The Fact Sheet, “Choosing a Future-Proof Refrigerant for Your Ice Arena,” is designed to help owners make the optimal refrigeration investment. It points out that R513A, which has a 100-year GWP of 600 and a 20-year GWP of 1,700, consists of 44% R134a, a high-GWP HFC that is being phased down under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol and the U.S. AIM (American Innovation and Manufacturing) Act.

R513A, the Fact Sheet adds, is also made up of 56% HFO1234yf, which changes when leaked into the atmosphere into trifluoroacetic acid (TFA). While not currently regulated, TFA is potentially harmful to human health and is accumulating in the environment, according to a growing number of studies. The Fact Sheet refers to several of these studies, such as a Chinese study that found high levels of TFA in the blood plasma of adults.

The Fact Sheet also references a recent Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) exposé that calculated that if all of North America’s community ice rinks install R513A instead of ammonia, it would lead to additional CO2e emissions over the lifetime of those systems that are equivalent to emissions of 15 coal-fired power plants or 13 million cars.

In addition, the Fact Sheet provides a timeline of chemical industry statements about CFC and HFC refrigerants that proved to be false over time and were followed by regulatory action.

“The only real future-proof refrigerant is a natural refrigerant,” said Ilana Koegelenberg, ATMOsphere Co-Founder and Market Intelligence Manager. “These have been tried and tested in ice arenas all around the world with suitable technologies and available skills. Why put in another chemical refrigerant system and risk having to replace it again once more restrictive regulation comes into play?”

The Refrigerant Fact Sheet is available here.

ATMOsphere is also working on a comprehensive guide to natural refrigeration systems for the ice rink industry in North America. The free publication is expected in the first quarter of 2022. 

“The only real future-proof refrigerant is a natural refrigerant.”

Ilana Koegelenberg, ATMOsphere

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