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July 2017 Update


Service ban that affects existing refrigeration equipment


In January 2020 there will be a ban on using virgin HFCs to service refrigeration equipment that uses a refrigerant with a GWP above 2500. This mainly affects R-404A equipment, but is also relevant to plants using refrigerants such as R-507, R-434A and R-422D. There is an exemption for very small equipment (e.g. containing less than 10 kg of R-404A) and for plants that cool a product to below -50oC. If you own equipment that is affected by the service ban you need to make plans based on one of three options:


a) You can retrofit the existing plant with a lower GWP refrigerant (it must have a GWP below 2500). For example, R-404A systems can be retrofitted with R-407F, R-448A or R-449A. This usually requires very few modifications to the existing plant and there is good evidence that energy efficiency will improve after a well-executed refrigerant retrofit.


b) You can service the existing plant using reclaimed refrigerant. However, there is no guarantee that reclaimed refrigerant will be available.


c) You can replace the plant with a new plant that uses a lower GWP refrigerant. It is important to recognise that the big phase-down step in 2018 comes 2 years before the service ban.


High GWP refrigerants such as R-404A are likely to become very expensive by 2018 – retrofitting or replacing such equipment before 2018 is worth strong consideration.


Refrigerant choices for new equipment:


The main driver to use low GWP refrigerants in new equipment is the HFC phase-down. Most refrigeration equipment used in food and drink manufacturing has a life of well over 25 years.

Buying plant with low GWP refrigerants helps “future-proof” your new systems.

In addition to the pressure created by the HFC phase-down, the F-Gas Regulation bans the use of HFC refrigerants with a GWP above 2500 in all new stationary refrigeration equipment from January 2020. However, the timing of this ban hides an “implicit ban” that is already in place. It makes no sense to purchase new industrial refrigeration equipment with a GWP above 2500 in 2016 – as such equipment will need to comply with the service ban in 2020!

In the food and drink manufacturing sector there are many options for using ultra-low GWP refrigerants in new equipment. Very high GWP refrigerants such as R-404A should be avoided with immediate effect and you should seriously question anyone giving you advice to use “medium-high” GWP HFCs such as R-134a or R-410A. Ammonia has been widely used in the industry for many years and is an excellent option, especially for large refrigeration equipment. For liquid chillers (e.g. for cooling a glycol secondary refrigerant) there are good alternatives with low GWP e.g. the HFO refrigerant R-1234ze (GWP = 7) is becoming widely available as an alternative to R-134a. Ammonia is well suited to large liquid chillers. CO2 is already widely used in supermarket refrigeration systems and is now available for a range of industrial refrigeration applications.


A number of new refrigerant blends are being introduced by refrigerant manufacturers – around 20 new blends have been launched during the last 3 years. Most of these new refrigerants are blends of HFOs and HFCs. They have been designed to mimic the properties of the high GWP refrigerants that they are replacing. For example, some blends have properties similar to R-404A. Two of these (R-448A and R-449A) have the advantage of being non-flammable but the disadvantage of still having a fairly high GWP (around 1400). Some more recently introduced blends (such as R-454A and R-455A) have much lower GWPs (239 and 148 respectively) but have the disadvantage that they are very slightly flammable. Lower flammability refrigerants are referred to as category 2L in the latest refrigeration safety codes. They are very difficult to ignite and can be used safely in many applications if the correct design rules are applied. It is worth noting that ammonia is also a “2L” refrigerant and has almost never been ignited following a refrigerant leak. When purchasing new equipment, you should always give adequate consideration to energy efficiency. Over the life of the plant the use of energy is the most significant contributor to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The F-Gas Regulation only relates to avoiding the GHG emissions from the refrigerant itself.

Try not to make the mistake of using a low GWP refrigerant in a plant that has poor energy efficiency! The best time to invest in improved energy efficiency is when you are buying a new plant. With careful attention to efficiency at the design stage, some new plants use less than half the energy of older equipment being replaced.


Other aspects of the F-Gas Regulation


The F-Gas Regulation has many other requirements that affect users of HFC refrigerants in the food and drink manufacturing sector. The most important of these mandatory requirements relate to: a) leak checking and leak prevention / repair b) recovery of HFCs during plant maintenance and at end-of-life c) record keeping d) using F-Gas trained technicians for installation and maintenance See the F-Gas Regulation Guidance referred to above for further details of these issues.



Refrigerant gas phase out (January 2015 to )

R32 in refrigerant in use


Refrigerant gas phase out (January 1995 to 2015)


• Phase out of R22 in refrigeration and air conditioning system's -

After 1 January 2010 no more virgin refrigerant R22 can be used in existing systems.

After 2015 no more recycled refrigerant R22 can be used in existing systems.

If you have recently installed an R22 air conditioning system the phase out dates should be a cause for your concern. Your system will only require additional refrigerant should a leak or major repair is required and this can be effected within current legislation until 2015.

• Servicing existing units

Existing units using R-22 can not continue to be serviced with R-22 from 1st of January 2010. Therefore new refrigerant can not be bought to fill this system only existing, stockpiled or reclaimed.  In addition, the new substitute refrigerants cannot be used without making some changes to system components. As a result, service technicians who repair leaks to the system will continue to charge R-22 into the system as part of that repair.

• Cost of R-22

While consumers should be aware that prices of R-22 may increase as supplies dwindle over the next 20 or 30 years, EPA believes that consumers are not likely to be subjected to major price increases within a short time period. Although there is no guarantee that service costs of R-22 will not increase, the lengthy phase out period for R-22 means that market conditions should not be greatly affected by the volatility and resulting refrigerant price hikes that have characterized the phase out of R-12, the refrigerant used in automotive air-conditioning systems and commercial chillers.

• Alternatives to R-22 in Residential Air Conditioning

As R-22 is gradually phased out, non-ozone-depleting alternative refrigerants are being introduced. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA reviews alternatives to ozone-depleting substances like R-22 in order to evaluate their effects on human health and the environment. EPA has reviewed several of these alternatives to R-22 and has compiled a list of substitutes that EPA has determined are acceptable. One of these substitutes is R-410A, a blend of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), substances that do not contribute to depletion of the ozone layer, but, like R-22, contribute to global warming. R-410A is manufactured and sold under various trade names, including GENETRON AZ-20®, SUVA 410A®, and Puron®. Additional refrigerants on the list of acceptable substitutes include R-134a and R-407C. These two refrigerants are not yet available for residential applications in the U.S., but are commonly found in residential A/C systems and heat pumps in Europe. EPA will continue to review new non-ozone-depleting refrigerants as they are developed.

• Installing new units

The transition away from ozone-depleting R-22 to systems that rely on replacement refrigerants like R-410A has required redesign of heat pump and air conditioning systems. New systems incorporate compressors and other components specifically designed for use with specific replacement refrigerants. With these significant product and production process changes, testing and training must also change. Consumers should be aware that dealers of systems that use substitute refrigerants should be schooled in installation and service techniques required for use of that substitute refrigerant.

• A Common Sense Approach To Purchasing New Systems

Another important thing a homeowner can do for the environment is to purchase a highly energy-efficient system. Energy-efficient systems result in cost savings for the homeowner. Today's best air conditioners use much less energy to produce the same amount of cooling as air conditioners made in the mid-1970s. Even if your air conditioner is only 10 years old, you may save significantly on your cooling energy costs by replacing it with a newer, more efficient model. Products with EPA's Energy Star® label can save homeowners 10% to 40% on their heating and cooling bills every year. These products are made by most major manufacturers and have the same features as standard products but also incorporate energy saving technology. Both R-22 and R-410A systems may have the Energy Star® label. Equipment that displays the Energy Star® label must have a minimum seasonal energy efficiency ratio (COP). The higher the cop specification, the more efficient the equipment.

You should consider energy efficiency, along with performance, reliability and cost, in making your decision. And don't forget that when purchasing a new system, you can also speed the transition away from ozone-depleting R-22 by choosing a system that uses ozone-friendly refrigerants.

History and schedule of the use of HCFC’s

From 01/07/1995 - HCFC’s will be banned except as solvents, as refrigerants, for the production of rigid insulating foams and integral skin foams in safety applications, in laboratory uses, including research and development, as feedstock in the manufacture of other chemicals and as a carrier gas for sterilisation substances in closed systems.

From 01/01/1996 - HCFC’s will be banned in the following uses: in equipment produced after 31/12/95 as: refrigerants in non-confined direct evaporation systems; refrigerants in domestic refrigerators and freezers; in motor vehicle, tractor and off road vehicle or trailer air conditioning and inroad public transport air conditioning.

From 01/01/1998 - HCFC use will be banned in equipment produced after 31/12/97 for rail public transport air conditioning.

From 01/01/2000 - HCFC use will be banned in equipment produced after 31/12/99 for use as refrigerants in public distribution and cold stores and warehouses and as refrigerants for equipment of 150kW and over shaft input.

From 01/01/2001 - HCFC’s are banned in all other refrigeration and air conditioning equipment produced after 31/12/2000, with the exception of fixed a/c equipment, with a cooling capacity of less than 100kW where use shall be prohibited from 01/01/2004 and of reversible air conditioning / heat pump systems where the use of HCFC’s shall be prohibited from 01/01/2004 in all equipment produced after 31/12/2003.

01/01/2010 - The use of virgin HCFC’s shall be prohibited in the maintenance and servicing of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment existing at that date.

From 01/01/2015 - The use of recycled HCFC's will be prohibited in the maintenance and servicing of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment existing at that date.


Refrigerant properties

R134A is a single hydrofluorocarbon or HFC compound. It has no chlorine content, no ozone depletion potential, and only a modest global warming potential. - ODP = 0, GWP = 1300

R407C is a ternary blend of hydrofluorocarbon or HFC compounds, comprising 23% of R32, 25% of R125 and 52% of R134a. It has no chlorine content, no ozone depletion potential, and only a modest direct global warming potential. - ODP = 0, GWP = 1610

R410A is a binary blend of hydrofluorocarbon or HFC compounds, comprising 50% of R32 and 50% of R125) it has no chlorine content, no ozone depletion potential, and only a modest global warming potential. - ODP = 0, GWP 1890

R417A is the zero ODP replacement for R22 suitable for new equipment and as a drop-in replacement for existing systems.

There are currently no restrictions on equipment or use of the following refrigerants: R134A, R407C, R410A, and R417A.


Contact Us:

Sales & Spare Parts: +44 (0)1234 841221
Tel UK: 01234 841221        
Fax: +44 (0)1234 852662


Orion Air Conditioning And Refrigeration Limited
10 Grisedale Court
Woburn Road Industrial Estate
MK42 7EE
United Kingdom

Email:  [email protected]








Orion Air Conditioning & Refrigeration Ltd, 10 Grisedale Court, Woburn Road Industrial Estate, Kempston, Bedfordshire, MK42 7EE, UK

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     Last updated - 11/02/2020