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Don’t let red tape hinder potential of refrigerents

The Olympic torch relay hasn’t even got out of Somerset as I write but it’s given plenty of fuel for the editorial writer

From the extreme efforts to control branding by the organisers, to the spectre of a secondary market for torches on ebay. And let’s not forget the moment the Eternal Flame went out.

This month, RAC has also been talking about not being able to light things. Flammability was a key part of the discussion at our New Refrigerants Question Time.

It presents a key challenge when introducing HFOs into day-to-day life. Namely do the current fire safety codes take their particular needs into account? 

Delegates heard how HFO 1234yf had been extensively tested for its ignition risk by carmakers, yet the only time it ignited was when mixed with oil and heated to 750 deg C (as did the R134a it is replacing).

Even though you would have to work pretty hard or have an extremely unlucky set of coinciding events to ignite HFOs, they are stuck with the description ‘mildly flammable’.

Even the Ashrae 2L safety designation, brought in to better address such issues, is being viewed as potentially too blunt a tool.

There undoubtedly is great potential for HFOs as low-GWP replacements – the manufacturers are adamant that they will be a ‘virtual drop-in’ for existing gases, rather than needing major new ways of working – but work is surely needed to ensure the potential of these new refrigerants isn’t hampered by unwieldy regulation.

The introduction of new technology is, of course, essential to ensuring that this industry continues to play its leading role in cutting carbon, energy, hassle and cost for its customers.

But red tape might be one of the elements we need to cut as well.

Which just leaves one line to say that, if you are involved in that surge of new technology and techniques, this is your last chance to enter the Cooling Industry Awards. Don’t let the athletes grab all the glory in 2012.

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