13 November 2012

The end for R404A refrigerant?

EUROPE: While specific product bans on non-hermetically-sealed systems have dropped out of the new F-gas revision proposals, it appears there is little future for refrigeration systems running on R404A.
The end for R404A refrigerant?
No commercial, hermetically-sealed retail and food service refrigerators and freezers running on HFCs with a GWP of over 2500 will be allowed to be placed on the market after 2016 and restricted to refrigerants of a GWP no higher than 150 by 2020. This new restriction on high GWP refrigerants appears to be primarily directed at R404A with its GWP of 3922, but there is, however, no specific product ban on new non-hermetically-sealed systems running on this gas.

Instead, there is an added paragraph which will seal the fate of a refrigerant that is virtually standard in supermarkets and used in thousands of other systems in Europe:
In addition, recharging of existing refrigeration equipment with a charge size over 5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent with HFC of very high GWP (>2500) will not be permitted from 2020 onwards as more adequate and energy efficient drop-in refrigerants of lower GWP are already widely available on the market.

The limit of 5 tonnes CO2 equivalent will apply to all but the smallest of systems and is obviously designed to spark a move to lower GWP 'drop-ins' like R407F but many in the industry will be asking why there is no time-determined ban on this refrigerant, how this will apply to recovered refrigerant and who will police any 'recharging'.

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