Which gas is used in refrigerator compressor and how it works?

The fact that in today’s refrigerators gas uses know even children, although the principle of working of household freezer is unfamiliar to many of us. Therefore, the refrigerant is perceived by some as a veiled threat: if there is a leak? Is this gas toxic or not? Will it lead to a explosion? Let’s look at this issue.


In 19-20 century in fridges were used ethers, ammonia and other toxic and hazardous to human health compounds. But already in the 30s of the 20th century freons are used in refrigerators – gases on the basis of methane and ethane without any color and odor. Freon is not toxic, but it can be harmful as any other gas that is unsuitable for breathing, if the amount exceeds 30%. But the old refrigerant (R134a) was harmful to the environment.

R600a – the most advanced refrigerant

Refrigerant R600a successfully replaced the old (R134a). His figures are simply amazing: the thing is that this natural gas is isobutane, and it is not the cause of the destruction of the ozone layer and does not create the greenhouse effect.

Today, leading manufacturers use R600a refrigerant in their refrigerators. It is used only 20 g of this gas per 130-liter refrigerator, which allows to create really efficient and the most effective models. As a rule, a refrigerator with R600a refrigerant are refer to “AAA” class that indicates a high standard of performance and low power consumption.

So what gas is in refrigerators? Freon is used in most modern fridges, but there are exceptions.

Refrigerator that runs on propane


Refrigerators that work on propane are quite efficient and eco-friendly devices. Buying propane refrigerator is especially useful if you have a trailer or you live in an area where power outages are common.

Propane fridge, also known as the absorption refrigerator – it is a closed refrigeration system. It uses a propane burner instead of electric pump drive which is typically used in standard electric models. Refrigerators on propane gas are technically portable and available in various sizes. In fact, such devices is quite popular among fans of outdoor recreation. Moreover, they are environmentally friendly and thus should be preferred over their electrical counterparts.

How propane refrigerator works?

The cooling process is not difficult to present, if you are familiar with the basics of the application of heat. Before we try to understand how a gas fridge works, we need to know about its components. The propane refrigerator uses ammonia as a coolant. Continuous ammonia cooling cycle is created by using water, ammonia and hydrogen.

To complete the cooling process cycle propane refrigerators have five main parts:

  1. Generator
  2. Separator
  3. Capacitor
  4. Evaporator
  5. Absorber

A propane torch heats generator with water and ammonia. Because of the heat, the solution temperature increases and eventually reaches a boiling point of ammonia. Boiling solution is brought to the separator tube. In the separator, water and ammonia are separated due to the difference in their molecular weight. At this stage, the ammonia becomes a gas, rises and enters to the condenser. On the other side, water comes in to the absorber, where it is stored for later use. Capacitor facilitates heat dissipation of ammonia and converts it back to a liquid form. Ammonia is then transferred to the evaporator. Here it mixed with pressurized hydrogen and vaporized to become freezing steam in the fridge. Meanwhile, the generator continuously generates pressure, which pumps the cooling steam through the spirals.

As the steam passes through the coils, it reaches the absorber, where it collides with water again. In a subsequent chemical reaction, ammonia is mixed with water and the result of their reaction is sent back to the generator, and the hydrogen is sent to the evaporator. Then the whole cycle is continuously repeated over and over again. That is how a propane fringe works.

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