This is the first installment in a three-part reported series on the global effort to introduce more sustainable refrigerants.

Cooling technology is crucial to modern life and it is not just playing a key role in developing countries, but across the globe. The transportation of food from farm to table, the delivery of vital medicines that fight diseases, the massive server farms that keep the digital world running, and our ability to safely inhabit the hottest regions, all rely on refrigerants to protect against withering heat.

But the very refrigerants we use to cool ourselves and life’s necessities can have an ironic and unintended side effect: they contribute to global warming and ozone depletion.

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