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US ruling gives supermarkets just a year to switch away from high-GWP refrigerants

EPA ruling will see R404A, R422D and R507A prohibited as early as July 2016 in supermarket systems as US takes more radical stance than Europe over high-GWP gases

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a ruling under its SNAP (Significant New Alternatives Program) that will see high-GWP refrigerants banned within a timescales of one to five years depending on the applicaiton.The bans are more radical in some areas than even the EU F-Gas Regulation.

Along with banning R404A and other high-GWP refrigerants such as R422D and R507A from supermarket system and condensing unit retrofits from July 2016, the SNAP ruling bans the refrigerants from new systems from Jan 1st 2017 and from new condensing units from January 1st 2018.

In addition, standalone Medium Temperature and Low Temperature standalone units will not be allowed to use the high-GWP refrigerants along with medium-GWP refrigerants such as R134a, R407A and R407F in new equipment from 2019 or 2020 depending on size.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said: “Today’s action delivers on the President’s Climate Action Plan and the administration’s commitment to acting on climate.

And it is in line with steps leading businesses are already taking to reduce and replace HFCs with safer, climate-friendly alternatives.

This rule will not only reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but also encourage greater use and development of the next generation of safer HFC alternatives.”

At the same time, the ruling endorses the alternaive refrigerants proposed in April. These comprise propane, ethane, isobutane and the hydrocarbon blend R441A. Meanwhile, the HFC refrigerant R32 is endorsed for use only in room air conditioning.

The EPA said that in the United States, HFC emissions are expected to nearly double by 2020 and triple by 2030. New technologies and new climate-friendly refrigerants can significantly reduce these emission increases.

EPA estimates this final rule will reduce greenhouse gas emissions of 54 to 64 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2025, equal to the carbon dioxide emissions from the annual energy use of more than 5.8 million homes.

Under the authority of the Clean Air Act and EPA’s SNAP Program, EPA said it reviews alternatives on an ongoing basis and issues updates to the lists of acceptable and unacceptable substitutes.

Today’s rule (July 2nd) changes the status of certain high-global warming potential (GWP) HFCs that were previously listed as acceptable under the SNAP Program as unacceptable in specific end uses.

These changes are based on information showing other alternatives are available for the same uses that pose lower risk overall to human health and the environment.

In developing and finalising the rule, EPA said it received input from industry, environmental groups and others through workshops and meetings, and reviewed more than 7,000 public comments. Based on public comment on the proposal and additional information submitted to the agency, the agency’s final rule makes a number of changes from the proposal. These include giving manufacturers the time and flexibility they need to ensure a smooth transition to safer alternatives.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • If Co2 is causing global warming, someone is going to produce it cheaply from coal or baking soda thus increasing the earth's CO2.
    (Propane?) thats a horror story, supermarkets have rack systems, big leaks happen, Refrigeration men are going to be burnt to death fixing leaks, supermarkets are going to be burning down everywhere. STOP CO2 being released around the world by eliminating carbonated sodas.

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