R134a Refrigerant

R134a is also known as Tetrafluoroethane (CF3CH2F) from the family of HFC refrigerant. With the discovery of the damaging effect of CFCs and HCFCs refrigerants to the ozone layer, the HFC family of refrigerant has been widely used as their replacement.

It is now being used as a replacement for R-12 CFC refrigerant in the area of centrifugal, rotary screw, scroll and reciprocating compresssors. It is safe for normal handling as it is non-toxic, non-flammable and non-corrosive.

Currently it is also being widely used in the air conditioning system in newer automotive vehicles. The manufacturing industry use it in plastic foam blowing. Pharmaceuticals industry use it as a propellant.

It exists in gas form when expose to the environment as the boiling temperature is -14.9°F or -26.1°C.

This refrigerant is not 100% compatible with the lubricants and mineral-based refrigerant currently used in R-12. Design changes to the condenser and evaporator need to be done to use this refrigerant. The use of smaller hoses and 30% increase in control pressure regulations also have to be done to the system.

Properties of R-134a

No Properties R-134a
1 Boiling Point -14.9°F or -26.1°C
2 Auto-Ignition Temperature 1418°F or 770°C
3 Ozone Depletion Level 0
4 Solubility In Water 0.11% by weight at 77°F or 25°C
5 Critical Temperature 252°F or 122°C
6 Cylinder Color Code Light Blue
7 Global Warming Potential (GWP) 1200

Detection of Leaks

When you suspect a leak of R-134a in your air conditioning system, detection can be done by using one of the following 5 methods. The simplest method and cost effective is by the use of soap solution. Workshops may use more sophisticated equipments to do this.

  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Soap Solution
  • Electronic Leak Detectors
  • Halogen selective detectors
  • Ultrasonic leak detectors

Latest Development

The recent discovery that R-134a contributes to global warming has caused the European Union to ban its use on new cars starting from year 2011. Other countries are expected to follow suit.

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