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EPA ruling paves way for shift away from domestic HFC use

US body sets out revised standards for gas use in fridges and freezers to support move away from higher GWP products

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a ruling on refrigerant standards for domestic cooling appliances that is intended to support industry in shifting away from a reliance on high GWP hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

A final rulemaking from the organisation has set out new standards for how higher flammability refrigerant can be implemented in new refrigerators and freezers. The shift is in line with wider global initiatives to try and tackle carbon emissions and other environmental impacts from cooling.

Modified user conditions for isobutane (R-600a), propane (R-290), and R-441A has been set out for news refrigerators and freezers that will come into effect from September of this year as part of the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program.

The decision by the EPA reflects wider efforts in the US towards trying to end a reliance on higher GWP products for a range of cooling components in the industrial, commercial and domestic sectors.

The EPA’s guidance would apply to new equipment that was specifically designed for gasses with a higher level of flammability and would not therefore be suitable as a retrofit alternative.

The organisation noted, “These refrigerants may be used only in new equipment designed specifically and clearly identified for the refrigerant.”

Another key recommendation of the ruling was for the gasses to be used in a charge size that does not exceed 57 grams in a refrigeration, freezer of combination of the technologies.

The Environmental Investigation Agency pressure group said that almost all refrigerators in in the US made use of refrigerant that was significantly worse for the climate than hydrocarbons. The EPA ruling is expected to significantly impact the types of gas widely used in fridges across the country.

EIA climate campaign lead Avipsa Mahapatra said, “This rulemaking would further help manufacturers to change that, thereby giving us an opportunity to avoid the same amount of emissions as from taking 800,000 passenger vehicles off the road for an entire year.

“In a world struggling to limit warming to under two degrees Celsius, it would be shame if the US industry continues to lag behind the rest of the world.”

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