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Legal Status of HC-12a ®, DURACOOL 12a ®, and OZ-12 ®

Ozone Protection Hotline toll-free (800) 296-1996

  1. What are HC-12a® and OZ-12®?
  2. What is DURACOOL 12a®? Is there a difference between HC-12a® and DURACOOL 12a®?
  3. What is the legal status of hydrocarbon refrigerants such as HC-12a® and DURACOOL 12a®?
  4. May hydrocarbon refrigerants be used to replace CFC-12, commonly referred to as "Freon® ," in cars?
  5. Why is it legal to use hydrocarbon refrigerants as CFC-12 substitutes in industrial process refrigeration, but not elsewhere?
  6. Is the sale of hydrocarbon refrigerants legal?
  7. May hydrocarbon refrigerants be vented?
  8. What other regulations restrict the use and handling of hydrocarbon refrigerants?
  9. Are there other refrigerants that can replace CFC-12?

Detailed Questions About HC-12a®, OZ-12®, DURACOOL 12a® EC-12a, and other Flammable Hydrocarbon Refrigerants

 

  1. What are HC-12a® and OZ-12®?
    HC-12a® and OZ-12® brand hydrocarbon refrigerant blends are flammable refrigerants. Their primary components are hydrocarbons, which are flammable substances such as propane and butane. HC-12a® and OZ-12® are registered trademarks of OZ Technology, Inc. HC-12a® has been marketed since 1994. OZ-12® was a similar blend marketed until the introduction of HC-12a® . Both products have been reviewed by EPA under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. More information about the SNAP program is available from the hotline listed at the top of this page.

    Note that EPA refers to the chemical composition of HC-12a® as Hydrocarbon Blend B. EPA considers any substance with that chemical composition, no matter what its trade name is, to be Hydrocarbon Blend B and to have the same legal status that HC-12a® has.

    In order to meet Department of Transportation requirements for shipping HC-12a® in six-ounce cans (DOT refers to these cans as DOT 2Q containers), OZ Technology reduced the vapor pressure of HC-12a® in June, 1998 by changing the composition. EPA does not consider this reformulated HC-12a® to be the same as Hydrocarbon Blend B. The reformulated HC-12a® has not been submitted for SNAP review, and thus cannot be marketed or used as a substitute for ozone-depleting substances.

  2. What is DURACOOL 12a®? Is there a difference between HC-12a® and DURACOOL 12a®?
    DURACOOL 12a® has the same chemical composition as the HC-12a® formulation that was submitted for SNAP review and was called Hydrocarbon Blend B. Both HC-12a® and DURACOOL 12a® are different than the new formulation of HC-12a® in six-ounce cans. DURACOOL 12a® is the registered trademark of Duracool Limited, the Canadian company that has manufactured DURACOOL 12a® since 1997. Duracool Limited and OZ Technology, the manufacturer of HC-12a®, are separate, unrelated companies with their own manufacturing facilities and distribution mechanisms.

  3. What is the legal status of hydrocarbon refrigerants such as HC-12a® and DURACOOL®?
    It has been illegal since July 13, 1995 to replace CFC-12 with the HC-12a® formulation that was submitted for SNAP review in any refrigeration or A/C application other than industrial process refrigeration. The same prohibition for OZ-12® took effect on April 18, 1994. Because DURACOOL 12a® has the same chemical composition as the HC-12a® formulation that was submitted for SNAP review (i.e., Hydrocarbon Blend B), DURACOOL 12a® is also subject to the same restrictions.

    HC-12a®, as reformulated to meet DOT requirements, is not the same as Hydrocarbon Blend B and has not been submitted for SNAP review. OZ Technology is therefore prohibited from marketing this blend as a substitute for any ozone-depleting substance. In addition, any use of this blend as a substitute for CFC-12 or any other ozone-depleting chemical, in industrial process refrigeration or any other refrigeration or A/C end use, is prohibited under the Clean Air Act.

    Since HC-12a®, as submitted for SNAP review, is chemically different from HC-12a®, as reformulated to meet DOT requirements, and since it has a different legal status under the Clean Air Act, users of any substance marketed as HC-12a® should be aware of which HC-12a® they have purchased.

    Note: Many states prohibit using flammable refrigerants in motor vehicles, regardless of which original refrigerant was used in the vehicle.

  4. May hydrocarbon refrigerants be used to replace CFC-12, commonly referred to as "Freon® ," in cars?
    No. It is illegal to use hydrocarbon refrigerants like HC-12a® and DURACOOL 12a® as substitutes for CFC-12 in automobile or truck air conditioning under any circumstances.

  5. Why is it legal to use hydrocarbon refrigerants as CFC-12 substitutes in industrial process refrigeration, but not elsewhere?
    EPA has not yet received data that adequately address the safety issues of hydrocarbon refrigerants in applications other than industrial process refrigeration. Flammability risks depend on the type of refrigeration or air-conditioning system. Industrial process refrigeration, for instance, does not include air conditioning, which pipes refrigerated air directly into occupied areas. Industrial process refrigeration generally refers to complex customized appliances used in the chemical, pharmaceutical, petrochemical and manufacturing industries. Direct risk to human health is reduced in industrial process refrigeration; for example, access to areas near the system is typically restricted. In addition, other regulations exist to protect the safety of industrial workers.

    EPA will review any additional material that is submitted under SNAP regarding the safety considerations of using hydrocarbon refrigerants in systems other than industrial process refrigeration.

  6. Is sale of hydrocarbon refrigerants legal?
    Sale of subtitute refrigerants listed under the SNAP program is not regulated under SNAP. However, statutes and regulations issued by other federal, state, or local agencies may control the sale of these products, including illegal advertising.

  7. May hydrocarbon refrigerants be vented?
    No. Since November 15, 1995, the Clean Air Act has prohibited the venting of any refrigerant during the service, maintenance, repair, or disposal of air conditioning and refrigeration systems. When working on a system containing a hydrocarbon refrigerant such as HC-12a® or DURACOOL 12a®, the technician must recover the refrigerant into a suitable container and safely dispose of it.

  8. What other regulations restrict the use and handling of hydrocarbon refrigerants?
    In addition to the prohibition on use described above, and the federal law banning the venting of all refrigerants, there are also state and local statutes and regulations that relate to certain uses of hydrocarbons. As of the printing date of this fact sheet, EPA is aware that the following states prohibit the use of flammable refrigerants in automobile air conditioners: Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia.

    Local fire codes also often restrict the storage of flammable materials. In addition, other federal, state, and local regulatory agencies may have regulations related to flammable refrigerants. Check with these authorities for more information.

  9. Are there other refrigerants that can replace CFC-12?
    Yes. Numerous other refrigerants have been found acceptable, subject to certain conditions on their use. EPA's fact sheet titled " Choosing and Using Alternative Refrigerants for Motor Vehicle Air Conditioning" lists these refrigerants and discusses the conditions. Lists of alternatives in other sectors are available online and from our hotline at 800-296-1996.

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