AIRAH, the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heating, has released its Flammable Refrigerants Safety Guide.
The guide - which was developed by independent organisations and stakeholders, and is thought to be the first of its kind in Australia – comprehensively covers the management of health and safety risks associated with flammable refrigerants.
AIRAH CEO Phil Wilkinson, M.AIRAH, says that the use of flammable low-global-warming-potential (low-GWP) synthetic and hydrocarbon refrigerants will grow due to increasing concerns around high-GWP synthetic greenhouse gases (SGGs).
Yet Wilkinson says that until now there has been little guidance around the safety risks associated with flammable refrigerants and the equipment that uses them.
“Now more than ever, it is crucial that the HVAC&R industry has a clear outline of what is safe and unsafe practice when using flammable refrigerants,” Wilkinson says. “With the increased cost of HFCs, and growing interest in the use of low-GWP refrigerants, the use of alternative – and more flammable – refrigerants will be more common. This increased use of flammable refrigerants represents a significant change for the industry and its workers.
“Many HVAC&R workers are accustomed to working with the non-flammable, non-toxic refrigerants that were widely used in the past,” says Wilkinson. “We need to ensure that, as the use of alternative refrigerants picks up, our industry is properly equipped to work safely, efficiently and professionally with any refrigerant they encounter. And that’s where the Flammable Refrigerants Safety Guide has a crucial role to play.”
Wilkinson says AIRAH’s Flammable Refrigerants Safety Guide covers the health and safety risks involved in the design, manufacture, supply, installation, conversion, commissioning, operation, maintenance, decommissioning, dismantling and disposal of HVAC&R equipment and systems that contain a flammable refrigerant.
In Australia, flammable refrigerants are already used in domestic refrigerators, small integral commercial cabinets, fluid chillers and industrial refrigeration. Their use is expected to continue to grow in commercial and industrial refrigeration applications, as well as in commercial and residential air conditioning.
Hydrocarbon refrigerants, a common flammable alternative to SGGs, are broadly available in Australia. Various flammable synthetic fluorocarbon refrigerants are also available, or are expected to be available in the near future.
The Flammable Refrigerants Safety Guide specifically applies to all stationary (while in use) refrigerating systems of all sizes, including air conditioners and heat pumps that are to be charged with flammable refrigerants with a refrigerant classification of A2 or A3, or any other refrigerant that meets the criteria to be classified as an A2 or A3 refrigerant.
The guide does not cover non-stationary (while in use) applications of flammable refrigerants such as in-vehicle air conditioning (cars, trucks, busses, trains, boats, aircraft) or transport refrigeration (road, rail, air, marine).
The Flammable Refrigerants Safety Guide is available to download FREE from the “Technical Resources” section of www.airah.org.au