Martyn Cooper of Ineos Fluor gives an HFC manufacturer’s viewpoint
As the only UK manufacturer of HFCs, Ineos Fluor has signed an ‘F-gas compliance assistance agreement’ with the government’s F-gas Support Team. This enables them to monitor our performance, including communication with customers, via the identification of an F-gas competent person at each customer.
We have our own F-gas compliance team, which looks at responsibilities on our manufacturing site at Runcorn and throughout the supply chain.
We incorporated the F-gas regulations requirements into our operating procedures, improving containment and reducing emissions - between 2003 and 2007, we reduced our own emissions of F-gases by 70 per cent.
This has seen us upgrading our delivery equipment and procedures to further reduce emissions from bulk deliveries. When we deliver bulk refrigerant in ISO tanks to customers, we use dry break couplings that have essentially no losses. Additionally, we require all personnel involved in the delivery process to be appropriately trained. As part of these delivery activities, we have to manage our ISO tank and pumped trailer fleet throughout Europe. This is carried out using both procedures and equipment that minimise emissions, and this in turn has required substantial investment in both new equipment and training for our preferred hauliers in the Netherlands, Spain and Italy.
Overall, we take a practical approach to ensure our customers are aware of the Regulations and are aware of their responsibilities so they are able to discharge them safely.
Naturally, Ineos supports the measures in the F-gas regulation to reduce emissions and we continue to support the use of HFCs in well-designed and efficient refrigeration and air-conditioning applications. HFCs are non-flammable, low-toxicity refrigerants, and allow the cost–effective design of energy efficient equipment. Used responsibly, the environmental performance of systems is dominated by energy efficiency and therefore a well-designed and maintained HFC system can deliver excellent eco-efficiency.
But at the same time, we are actively looking at alternative refrigerants to minimise emissions of all greenhouse gases. For a number of years, we have had a research and development programme for low GWP refrigerants to respond to the challenge of maintaining the beneficial properties of HFCs, including safety and energy efficiency, but with lower GWP. More recently, we have re-launched R407A as a low-GWP, energy-efficient replacement for R22 and as an alternative to R404A or R507.
We are also actively developing AC-4, an energy-efficient low-GWP alternative for HFC-134a in automotive/mobile air conditioning systems in line with current European F-gas directive requirements. In mobile air conditioning systems using low GWP refrigerants, the greatest environmental impact is from the fuel required to run the compressor. AC-4 has undergone independent laboratory testing and has found remarkably good energy efficiency in drop-in tests of standard HFC-134a systems. Typical efficiency gains are about 8-10 per cent. However, we expect to see even greater performance benefits from optimisation of the air conditioning system design and its components for AC-4. In fact, we have already demonstrated efficiency improvements of better than 20 per cent in some conditions by making some very minor changes. This improved energy efficiency arises directly from AC-4’s favourable physical properties.
Looking to the future, providing the safety performance is as we expect, Ineos Fluor believes that AC-4 shows potentially best in class energy efficiency and cost performance as the future global alternative to HFC-134a for a range of applications including automotive air-conditioning. We are committed to offering the best solutions available and to working with regulators and companies who want the best environmental performance cost-effectively.