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Technology and safety holding back natural refrigerants

Technology and safety are the greatest obstructions to the growth of natural refrigerants in the market

The findings, reported at the Atmosphere Natural Refrigerants conference in Brussels, ranked the issues as the highest with 32%. Other barriers were legislation (18%), markets and marketing (12%), training and know-how (11%), psychology (11%), funding and support (8%) and supply and availability (7%).

Bringing together industry and political figures, campaigners and manufacturers from across the globe, its main aim was to discuss, and strategise, how to get natural refrigerants to market quicker, as well as identifying and breaking the barriers against.

During the event International Institute of Refrigeration representative Didier Coulomb pointed out that natural refrigerants will have to compete with the next generation of HFCs, specifically HFOs. Furthermore, much will hinge on the regulatory acceptance of hydrocarbon refrigeration in the USA and the commercial success in this major market, combined with focusing international attention on the benefits of natural refrigerants.

This last point was taken up by Rajendra Shende of the United Nations who said that in order to bring in natural refrigerants closer to end-users more market awareness-raising will be necessary.

This may be helped along by the forthcoming report being prepared for the Montreal Protocol. However Lambert Kuijpers, who is involved with this, admits that the task of identifying substances from different product categories without any international treaty definition regarding high and low GWP substances will be a key issue.

Moreover, there are suggestions that it may recommend an F-Gas style approach to policy after observing Europe’s relative success with the regulation, however it was pointed out by Philip Owen of the European Commission that this maybe particularly challenging given the consumption of F-gases, especially in Asian countries.

 

BARRIERS TO NATURAL REFRIGERATION

  • Technology and safety – public safety concerns/public perception/misconceptions/fear of high pressures and flammability/accident
  • Legislation and Standards – highly restrictive prohibitive national and international standards/lack of harmonisation of Regulations pertaining natural refrigerants between different locations within the same region/manipulation of trade and safety standards for commercial ends
  • Training and know-how – lack of knowledge by manufactures, contractors, installers, consultants, servicing companies, policy, makers, ozone officers and consultants/lack of information and training material
  • Markets and Marketing, Funding and Support – higher capital cost for natural refrigerant systems and servicing equipment due mainly to lower sales volumes as well as for the setting up of production of systems
  • Supply and Availability   - Lack of local manufacturers of natural refrigerant components, systems and servicing equipment, combined with a fear of dependence on imports, particularly in developing countries. Unavailability of gases for manufacturers willing to explore natural refrigerants while the process of importing can be very complicated and time consuming
  • Psychology – Fear of change/incurring higher costs/safety risks, commercial risks/fear that the influence of fluorocarbon industry will be detrimental to natural refrigerant technology      

For full article on Atmosphere Conference see November issue of RAC magazine                                     

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