ban that affects existing refrigeration equipment
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:
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
You can service the existing plant using reclaimed refrigerant. However,
there is no guarantee that reclaimed refrigerant will be available.
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.
GWP refrigerants such as R-404A are likely to become very expensive by
2018 – retrofitting or replacing such equipment before 2018 is worth
choices for new equipment:
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.
plant with low GWP refrigerants helps “future-proof” your new
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!
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.
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.
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.
aspects of the F-Gas Regulation
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
refrigerant in use
Refrigerant gas phase out (January 1995
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.
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
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
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
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
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
- 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.
- 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.
- HCFC use will be banned in equipment produced after 31/12/97
for rail public transport air conditioning.
- 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
- 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.
- The use of virgin HCFC’s
shall be prohibited in the maintenance and servicing of refrigeration
and air conditioning equipment existing at that date.
- The use of recycled HCFC's will be prohibited in the maintenance and
servicing of refrigeration and air conditioning equipment existing at
There are currently no restrictions on equipment or use of the following refrigerants: R134A, R407C, R410A, and R417A.
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Last updated - 11/02/2020