Source: ACR-news.com - http://www.acr-news.com/
AN ALMIGHTY row has broken out in the USA over the phase-out of R22. Air conditioning units for use with the ozone-depleting gas are still being manufactured and sold despite a sales ban being in place since January 1, 2010.
Blaming "market forces", some are accused of taking advantage of what is described as a loophole in the US EPA's Final Rule published at the end of 2009 which "bans the sale or distribution of air-conditioning and refrigeration appliances containing HCFC-22, HCFC-142b, or blends containing one or both of these controlled substances as the refrigerant".
Some manufacturers point to the use of the word "containing" in the ruling as the reason for producing and supplying "uncharged" units.
The row has pitted manufacturer against manufacturer. This week five of the country's leading air conditioning manufacturers - Carrier, Daikin/McQuay, Trane, Johnson Controls and Lennox - wrote to the EPA calling for a change to the rule.
"While the Appliance Rule bans the sale and distribution of appliances that are precharged with HCFC-22 at the time they are manufactured or imported into the United States, EPA did not apply the same prohibition to appliance components that are uncharged," say the companies.
"Instead, the Appliance Rule allows major components of an air conditioner or refrigeration unit to be shipped "dry" or with a holding charge containing an inert gas and then charged with refrigerants on-site. This situation creates a gaping loophole in the Appliance Rule and allows the continued widespread use of HCFC-22."
According to reports, the R22 units are being offered to homeowners and businesses with failed units as a low cost option to replacement. As a result, R22 units still account for 10-20% of all sales in the US.
Talking to the New York Times, Francis Dietz, vice president of public affairs at the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute said: "We had planned all along for these to go away. Manufacturers had planned it that way by shutting down their lines, but now they're all back up, and it's caused a whole bunch of turmoil. They don't even want to build these units, but they feel that they have to."
Earlier this year, Carrier sent a petition to the EPA naming fellow US manufacturers Nordyne, Rheem and Goodman amongst a number of companies who 'started to aggressively market uncharged HCFC-22 components not as repair parts but as cheaper alternatives to the purchase of new 410A systems'.
Some companies dispute the very existence of a loophole in the ruling but few have been able to resist making the R22 air conditioners again -- not even Carrier. In its petition Carrier admits that it, too, had started producing R22 replacement units again 'in an effort to remain competitive in the marketplace'.
Many feel that the US is storing up problems for the future. Under the Montreal Protocol the United States is required to cut its consumption of HCFCs by 90 per cent from baseline levels by 2015 and eliminate its use entirely by 2030.