Refrigerant Metering Device -- Every HVAC system has one of these, and heat pumps have two. They regulate the amount of refrigerant going through your air-conditioner. If it fails, either too much or too little refrigerant will course along the lines and either not perform well or will overwhelm the compressor and cause it to fail. A total failure of this component will result in a complete loss of operation.
The selection of the working fluids (refrigerants) has a significant impact not only on the performance of the air conditioners but on the environment as well. Most refrigerants used for air conditioning contribute to global warming, and many also deplete the ozone layer. CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs are potent greenhouse gases when leaked to the atmosphere.