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Chemours says low GWP cooling technology “slow to emerge”

Refrigerant company has called for greater push to bring new cooling appliances to market to ensure F-Gas regulations are being met

Chemours has argued that the limited availability of cooling technology specifically designed for lower GWP refrigerants is proving to be a key barrier in helping industry meet EU F-Gas reduction commitments.

Neil Roberts of Chemours said that greater commercial pressure was needed from end users and the wider industry on component manufacturers to offer more purpose-built solutions to make use of newer types of low GWP gases being manufactured.

Speaking last month at the BESA National Conference, Mr Roberts said that gases that the company and some rivals were pushing onto the market to meet shifting European laws were now being produced for use in new equipment that was not broadly available.

“These [gases] are not drop-ins, new equipment designs are required and they are very slow to emerge. It could be a couple of years before we see the first real purpose built units,” he said.

It is understood that significant redesigns of existing equipment was currently needed to make use of alternative gases, highlighting the potential room for fresh innovation.

Mr Roberts claimed Chemours was working with select manufacturers on prototyping work to show how lower GWP refrigerants will function in new appliances.

However, he argued that manufacturers were still seen as retaining a reliance on A1 non-flammable products that were easier to use in the short-term. This was despite broader fears of imminent price spikes as the F-Gas quota will further limit supply of higher GWP gas.

Mr Roberts argued that a process of familiarisation would be required to assist manufacturers that were seeking to switch over to new technologies.

He added that codes of standards would be an important part of helping industry prepare for the expected squeeze on higher GWP products that will reduce the attractiveness of such gasses in the coming years.

Graeme Fox of Refcom noted during the same event that there was a growing need for more significant effort to look at alternate arrangements for refrigerants.

He expressed particular concerns at the growing demand for the R32 refrigerant that was resulting in less gas available on the market for use in more traditional blends such as 407C or 410A.

Further quota cuts

Between 2018 and 2020 there will be a significant drop in quota to 56% of the original baseline figures outlined in 2015. Mr Fox said that these further cuts to the quota was expected to hit supplies of F-Gas going forward and put pressure on the amount of highher GWP solutions being produced.

“That’s why we are seeing this very sharp price rise in the gases on the market, particularly with gases like R404A,” said Mr Fox.

“We’ve been talking about it for a long time and a lot of people have been burying their heads in the sand for way too long. If you Google HFCs and price rises, there is plenty of online evidence of some quite scary price rises. I think R404A is something like ten times more expensive than it was at the start of this year.”

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