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R290 – a flammable gas for refrigeration

R290 – a flammable gas for refrigeration

A brief Look at R290 for refrigeration

From a chemical standpoint, R290 is what is known as a hydrocarbon. However, the main use of this flammable gas is as a refrigerant for household appliances (such as the common refrigerator). R290 is one of the most well-known refrigerants to be used and due to several properties, it is considered to be preferable over older alternatives. Let us take a look at this substance in a bit more detail.

Beneficial Properties

Although few may be aware of this fact, R290 is actually classified as a type of propane that is known as a „dry“ isopropane. As it is quite pure in its chemical composition, there is no potential for ozone depletion (should it enter into the atmosphere) and it is also said to have a negligible effect on global warming. Thus, R290 is quite safe from an environmental standpoint. This is one of the primary reasons that it is commonly employed as a refrigerant in household appliances. Furthermore, R290 can be used as a replacement for older hydrocarbon coolants such as R-12, R-22 and R-134a. So, R290 is also seen as being quite a universal refrigerant.


R290 is a member of the propane family, so it is highly flammable. Therefore, only those with proper qualifications should work with this gas. As it is heavier than air, the bulk of its concentration will always occur at lower levels (such as the floor). This needs to be taken into account when working around electrical equipment close to the ground that may inadvertently cause a spark; increasing the chances for accidental combustion. Also, R290 is toxic to humans and unintentional inhalation can have serious health effects. However, there are few risks that will be posed if the gas is handled with the proper safety measures in mind.

Thanks to the environmentally friendly aspects of this „pure“ form of propane, R290 is one of the most commonly used refrigerants within household appliances. It is a viable replacement for older coolants and it can be expected that R290 will continue to be used in this manner into the foreseeable future.

Check out www.secop.com for more information about R290.

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