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F-Gas Regulations and their impact on Commercial Refrigeration Industry

Earths ozone layer

 

The last few years have seen an increased effort in creating environmentally friendly equipment for day to day activities. Thanks to a previous industrial growth that saw little regard to the environment, there exists the need to think of ways to prevent more damage. Specifically, in refrigeration which had previously seen extensive use of harmful products.

Different authorities have set up regulations for commercial refrigeration to ensure that everyone using or manufacturing such systems abide by the current environmentally friendly routines. These regulations are known as F-gas regulations* and were put in place in the UK on 1st Jan 2015.

They aim to reduce the use of fluorinated greenhouses gases which are mostly used in commercial refrigeration systems. However, as much as people would like to follow these regulations, do they understand the reasoning behind them?

Here are a number of the most common refrigerants and their characteristics.

Types of Gases used in commercial refrigeration

Example of commercial refrigeration refrigerants

CFC

Also known as chlorofluorocarbon, this gas contains Chlorine, Fluorine, and Carbon. This gas is non-toxic and has no adverse effects on humans. However, the gas presents adverse effects on the ozone layer thanks to the chlorine compound present. This fluorinated gas also has a significantly higher global warming potential (GWP) than carbon.

The gas was first put into use in refrigeration systems in the 1920s before scientists understood its effect on the environment. This led to the banning and consequent phasing out plans which started in the 1980s and are expected to complete by 2030.

HCFC

HCFC contains Hydrogen, Carbon, Fluorine, and Carbon. This refrigerant is less harmful to the ozone layer than CFC. Regardless, the gas is being phased out because of the effects it has on the ozone layer, especially at the South Pole. The fluorine present also presents a risk of increasing the GWP.

HFC

This refrigerant has Hydrogen, Fluorine and Carbon. While they lack chlorine, an ozone depleting agent, they have a high global warming potential which has led the EPA (Environmental protection agency) to bring in legislation to phase the gases out from commercial use.

HC (Hydrocarbons)

Hydrocarbon refrigerants present no effects to the ozone layer because of their lack of chlorine. A favourite in the environmental conservation circles, HC refrigerants are ideal because they help in energy conservation.

 

Below is a list of refrigerants and the gases that fall under their categories.

Refrigerant

Type of Gas

CFC

R11, R12, R13, R13B1,R113, R114, R500, R502, R503

HCFC R22, R123, R124, R401A, R401B, R402A, R403B, R408A, R409A, R414B, R416A 
HFC

R23, R32, R134a, R404A, R407A, R407C, R407F(PERFORMAXLT), R410A, 

R417A (ISCEON MO59), R422A (ISCEON MO79), R422D (ISCEON MO29),

R423A (ISCEON 39TC), R424A (RS-44), R427A (Forane 427A), R428A (RS-52),

R434A (RS-45), R437A (ISCEON MO49Plus), R438A (ISCEON MO99), 

R442A (RS-50), R449A (OPTEON XP40), R507A, R508B (SUVA 95), 

ISCEON MO89, R1234yf

HC R290 Propane, R600a Isobutane, R1270 Propylene

 

While most of these gases have little effects on human beings, their effects on the ozone layer are immense. It is, therefore, important to understand what regulations have been put in place and how they will affect the industry.

Regulations and what they mean for the Refrigeration Industry

Like with many other regulations in different spheres, F-gas regulations are there to help reduce the production and use of some refrigerants due to their effects on the environment.

These include:

  • Regulations on timelines for phasing out. For example, CFC refrigerants are expected to have been fully eliminated by 2030. HFCs with a global warming potential of more than 2500 will be prohibited in the production of new equipment in the EU after 1st Jan 2020.
  • Service and maintenance bans on different refrigerants. For example, refrigeration systems using reclaimed or recovered gas will be banned from 1st Jan 2030 while those that don’t will be banned from 1st Jan 2020.
  • Regulations on record keeping. Technicians are expected, by the new EPA regulations, to keep meticulous records on refrigeration appliances with more than 50 pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerants. Disposal of these equipment should also be recorded.
  • Certification for technicians. Technicians should, from the 1st Jan 2019, have proper certification.
  • Regulations on the labelling of refrigeration equipment. Manufacturers are expected to providing adequate labelling to ensure that every user understands the type of refrigerant used, total mass and its global warming potential.

Many manufacturers are making the change from these gases to other friendlier gases in line with the current regulations. For example, chlorine based refrigerants are being phased out and replaced by chlorine-free refrigerants.

Manufacturers such as Hoshizaki and Tefcold have already taken the required steps in creating environmentally friendly refrigeration systems by using HC refrigerants.

Understanding the different F-gas regulations in place is important because it ensures more efficiency in refrigeration systems as well as creates a positive impact on the environment.

*Source: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/98/made

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