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Reducing leakage

As the HFC phase-down starts to bite, the Institute is relaunching its successful anti-leakage campaign REAL Zero. Secretary Miriam Rodway reports

The Institute of Refrigeration is relaunching its REAL Zero initiative following the recent changes to the F-Gas Regulations and in anticipation of future restrictions on availability of HFC refrigerant in Europe.

The recent legislative changes – and inevitable rises in the cost of higher-GWP refrigerant – mean that over the next few years, there will be an increasing need for equipment operators to further improve containment of HFCs by adopting best practice.

The IOR’s REAL (Refrigerant Emissions and Leakage) Zero initiative was originally developed in 2009, based on practical investigations carried out on a number of existing sites and systems, to identify the main causes of refrigerant leakage.

It led to the publication of a series of Guidance Notes for Technicians covering good practice in leak detection and identifying common leakage points, as well as specific guides for end-users, contractors and designers.

REAL Zero, which was widely adopted by UK industry, was then turned into a European e-learning programme that became known as REAL Skills Europe.

The e-learning programme offered an opportunity to add input to the materials from a wider range of specialists in various European countries.

As part of the current revision of REAL Zero the REAL Skills e-learning is also in the process of being updated.

It will become a free-access resource for use by the whole industry from October this year.

Both REAL Zero and REAL Skills offer downloads of refrigerant use and emissions monitoring tools, reporting templates and supporting guides and booklets.

The Institute is currently accepting advance registration for the updated e-learning course.

It will also be offering an optional assessment for learners, and anyone who passes this can apply for an IOR e-learning CPD Certificate for a fee of £30.

Anyone who wants to find out more about the e-learning programme and how the material has been updated can join one of the free introductory webinars being held on the dates below.

Those who cannot join the webinar on a particular date should still register, as IOR will be recording the sessions, allowing people to log in and participate after the events.

The webinars will be held on:

  • 22 October
  • 17 November

Pre-register for the e-learning or sign up for the webinars at www.realzero.org.uk.

REAL Alternatives

For those who want to know more about low-GWP alternative refrigerants as potential replacements for HFCs (or HCFCs), the IOR also has developed a free e-learning programme entitled REAL Alternatives.

REAL Alternatives is designed to be used as ‘blended learning’ – which means that the Institute is encouraging training providers and employers to develop their own practical courses based on the materials, or to integrate the guidance into existing courses.

The e-learning provides the theoretical knowledge to back up practical training and experience and can also be used by individuals as a self-study course.

The programme covers Carbon Dioxide, Hydrocarbon, Ammonia and ‘mildly flammable’ HFO and R32 refrigerants. Eight different online modules are currently available at www.realalternatives.eu.

Again, an optional assessment and CPD certification service is due to be launched in October.

The REAL Alternatives and REAL Skills e-learning programmes were originally developed with co-funding from the EU Lifelong Learning Programme and support from range of European partners.

Over 500 individuals have registered with the REAL Alternatives self-study course since it was launched in March 2015. It has gained the support of European associations such as European contractors’ association AREA and the International Institute of Refrigeration.

The Institute has suggested that this material could be used to provide ‘information’ on alternative refrigerants to technicians, a requirement of the 2014 F-Gas Regulations, which has yet to be clarified byfeat the EU.

REAL Alternatives is available in several European languages alongside English – namely French, Polish, Dutch and Italian. A number of additional EU countries have also expressed an interest in translating the materials into their own language.  

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