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Eaton Williams gives refrigerant drop-in warning

EATON-WILLIAMS Service (EWS) is advising customers that although alternative 'drop-in' refrigerants are available, care needs to be taken choosing the right one for an application.
'What is ok for an air conditioning system may not suit a refrigeration application. Many users will be under the impression that 'drop-ins' are an instant solution and don't realise that they cannot simply 'drop' in an alternative refrigerant on top of the old one' warns Ray Paice, EWS national sales manager.

'The system will, as an absolute minimum need to be thoroughly purged of all traces of R22 and the oil replaced with a compatible alternative', he said.

He added 'Users need to consider the best option for them. For example; it may be better to replace an existing piece of plant if significant energy savings can be made; rather than incur the costs of upgrading existing plant and using a drop-in'.

There may also be a drop in performance of some systems that are retrofitted with a drop in refrigerants.

Users can use Virgin HCFCs up to the end of 2009 and recycled HCFCs up to 2015, which does allow them time to decide what is best for them. However recycled HCFCs are likely to become more difficult to obtain and their cost will increase significantly.

As industry tries to meet demands from users still reliant on HCFCs in the run up to the ban, EWS is warning that at current reclaim rates, there will not be sufficient quantities of recycled refrigerants available to meet maintenance demands between now and the total phase out in January 2015.

The British Refrigeration Association (BRA), says only 200 tonnes of R22 was reclaimed last year - just 12% of the current demand) so unless users have built up their own bank of refrigerant they may find using recycled HCFCs is not really an option.

'With 2010 just around the corner, users who have not got a strategy in place to deal with the phase out of HCFCs, need to start planning now as a matter of urgency', Ray Paice added.

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