Alternative Refrigerant for R22 Ice Makers and Chillers

Alternative Refrigerant for R22 Ice Makers and Chillers

R22 was once a common refrigerant, used for ice makers, chillers and a number of other commercial and residential appliances. Unfortunately, R22 is not as good for the environment as scientists once thought. In fact, R22 has been phased out since 2010, and it will be completely illegal by 2030.

If you have an ice maker or chiller that uses R22, you probably don’t want to scrap the whole thing and buy a new one—but you may need to. There are a few alternative refrigerant possibilities for R22 ice makers and chillers in Eugene, OR. However, these alternatives need to be safer for the environment, cost effective and efficient. Read on to learn more about the process for finding alternative refrigerants that will work in R22 ice makers and chillers.

Working pressure

The maximum allowable working pressure (MAWP) has proven to be the first challenge in finding alternative refrigerants. Most ice makers and chillers have an MAWP between 150 to 200psi on the low end, which can vary depending on the specific brand, appliance and date of manufacture. Unfortunately, two of the most common R22 alternatives, R404a and R507, have a low-end MAWP of 250psi.


Glide is the next factor to consider. The glide needs to be near zero in order to work properly in commercial ice makers and chillers. While R404a and R507 have the right glide to work, their working pressure restrictions make them unsuitable for ice makers and chillers.

Other readily available alternatives like R407c, R40f and R410 have glides that are higher than R22. This is a problem because the high glide causes them to fractionalize and segregate in service. Instead of working as a volatile fluid, which is necessary for the heat transfer process, these refrigerants’ evaporator fluid chemistry changes. That causes a reduction in capacity as well as erratic operation—neither of which you want when you’re working with commercial machinery.

Volumetric efficiency

Finally, volumetric efficiency plays a role in how well these alternatives will work in R22 ice makers and chillers inn Eugene, OR. R134a uses a lower working pressure than R22, and its glide is near zero. However, it has a significantly lower volumetric efficiency, which means its capacity is not nearly high enough for what commercial machines require.

Finding the right alternative coolant

Depending on your specific machine and capacity, you might wish to upgrade to commercial ice makers and chillers that were not designed to use R22. The challenges of finding a functional, safe and environmentally-friendly coolant for R22 machines can make upgrading worth the investment. Since R22 is extremely difficult to source now, and will be illegal in less than ten years, it’s probably wise to move on to a new machine.

If you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to your old machinery, reach out to American Refrigeration Inc. We’ll do our best to recommend alternative refrigerant possibilities for R22 ice makers and chillers in Eugene, OR, or help you find new machines to do the job.