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US proposes prohibiting high-GWP HFCs in retail refrigeration as early as 2016

Proposal would see US going further than Europe in phasing out the likes of R404A and R507 as soon as 2016 for new and retrofit supermarket use. In a move clearly designed to drive supermarkets towards natural refrigerants and HFOs, EPA also proposes prohibiting R134a in new standalone retail equipment by 2017

The US Environmental Protection Agency has published a proposal under its Significant New Alternatives Program that could see R404A and R507 phased out of new and retrofit equipment for supermarkets as soon as 2016. In so doing, the US would be seeking to align with the aims of the European F-Gas regulations in reducing end users’ dependance on high-GWP refrigerants. Whilst the EPA says it is not prohibiting the gases across all applications, it says that it will list the high-GWP gases as ‘unacceptable’ for use in retail refrigeration.

At the same time, the US proposes to follow Europe in seeing R134a phased out of new automotive air conditioning systems, although it give manufacturers until model year 2021 to do it.

The emissions reductions from this proposed rule are estimated to be 31 to 42 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2020.

The ‘unacceptable’ designation under SNAP ‘means that it is illegal to use a product as a substitute for an ODS in a specific end-use.’

In its proposal the EPA said it is proposing to modify the listings from acceptable to unacceptable for certain HFCs and HFC blends ‘where other alternatives are available or potentially available that pose overall lower risk.’

It notes that the action ‘does not propose that any specific HFCs be unacceptable across all sectors and end-uses. EPA is also not proposing that, for any specific sector, the only acceptable substitutes are HFC-free. EPA recognises that both fluorinated (eg HFCs, HFOs)) and non-fluorinated (eg, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide) substitutes are potentially acceptable.’ Instead, it says, “consistent with SNAP’s history and the Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 612, EPA is proposing these
modifications based on the substitutes being considered, the SNAP criteria for evaluation, andhe current suite of other available and potentially available substitutes.”

The proposal lists the following:

“For new and retrofit .retail food refrigeration (including stand-alone equipment, condensing units, direct supermarket systems, and indirect supermarket systems) and new and retrofit vending machines, we are proposing to list, as of January 1, 2016
the HFC blends R507A and R404A as unacceptable; For new and retrofit retail food refrigeration (including direct supermarket systems and indirect supermarket systems), we are proposing to list, as of January 1, 2016: HFC227ea, R407B, R421B, R422A, R422C, R422D, R428A, and R434A as unacceptable; For new stand-alone retail food refrigeration and new vending machines, we are proposing to list, as of January 1, 2016, HFC-134a and certain other HFC refrigerant blends as unacceptable.”

The EPA also wants to see the removal of a host of other high-GWP refrigerant blends from automotive use by model year 2017. These are: SP34E; R426A); R416A; R406A, R414A; R414B (also known as HCFC Blend Omicron); HCFC Blend Delta (also known as Free Zone); Freeze 12; GHG-X5, and HCFC Blend Lambda (also known as GHG-HP).

See full SNAP proposal (right).

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