Natural refrigerant-based heat pumps are on the rise in Europe, according to a new report released on April 20 by ATMOsphere, publisher of

The report “Delivering Today on EU F-gas, REPowerEU and PFAS Restriction with Natural Refrigerant Heat Pumps,” was published ahead of the kick off of the European trilogue among the European Commission, the Parliament and the Council of the EU. The report can be read for free here.

The report underlines the importance of ensuring that the deployment of residential heat pumps under REPowerEU is enacted using the most climate- and environment-friendly refrigerants available for vapor compression technology, i.e., natural refrigerants.

In fact, due to the increased marketing of these systems, the report notes, Europe has a clear chance to show global climate and environmental protection leadership, decoupling the cooling and heating sectors from fluorinated refrigerants that can be ozone-depleting, climate-altering or PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Interviewed companies are already planning to scale up production to meet the objectives of REPowerEU while avoiding the likely restrictions planned in the EU F-gas Regulation and the Universal PFAS Restriction Intention.

Caption: Air-to-water heat pumps installations in Europe and companies having natural refrigerants heat pumps in their portfolio

The report highlights the market-readiness of different companies in the air-to-water technology, especially for monoblocs. Propane (R290) is the refrigerant of choice, yet some companies are also promoting systems with CO2 (R744). However, the report also addresses research developments on system efficiencies with low charges and standard updates that are meant to support the uptake of natural refrigerants in split air-to-air systems.

In addition to considering the tightening of the EU F-gas Regulation, the report also reflects on the effect the released Universal PFAS Restriction Intention will have on the use of fluorinated refrigerants that match the definition of “forever chemicals.” “HFOs are not an option,” a company representative stated.

Caption: Refrigerants most frequently used in hydronic systems (air-to-water) in Europe

The report includes a list of models running with propane that were presented at the recently held ISH 2023 trade fair, sharing insights gathered from industry stakeholders on the expected development of the market of heat pumps.

The report concludes with an analysis of the importance of direct emissions from this subsector, which, if unmitigated and exponentially scaled up at global level, will burden global and regional efforts to contain global warming and preserve a high level of environmental protection.