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Will F-Gas review affect refrigerant choice?

The hot topic tackled by leading industry figures this month: Will the F-Gas review influence refrigerant choice?”

Martyn Cooper – Regional Sales Manager, Mexichem

Experience has shown that it is difficult to predict future environmental legislation and the forthcoming F-Gas review is no exception.  It is but one element of the whole climate change debate aimed at reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases.

It is also worth remembering the broader picture: current F-Gas Regulations and any future changes impact on a whole host of user industries and not solely to the RAC sector.

Assuming that additional measures are required to reduce future emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases then a hydrofluorocarbon consumption cap and phase-down is probably the most likely scenario, although the level of any cap and timescale of any phase-down is another conundrum.

The critical element of this F-Gas review, as far as this industry is concerned, should be to maintain refrigerant choice.  There is no panacea in the refrigerant debate.  Ammonia, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and fluorocarbons must, and will, continue to play a role in different RAC application areas where operational and energy efficiency benefits can be maximised and limitations, such as flammability and toxicity, overcome.

The development of low GWP hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO’s) and non-flammable HFO/HFC refrigerant blends continues.  These products will have similar properties to traditional working fluids and have the potential to offer the RAC industry safe and efficient system solutions in the future.

Whatever challenges are presented by the F-Gas Regulation review the industry must continue to look for the best application specific solutions, both in terms of system engineering, safety, energy efficiency and refrigerant selection, to satisfy user needs.

Andrea Voigt – General Director, European Partnership for Energy and the Environment

Two years after the entering into force of the F-Gas Regulation, countries that have implemented its measures such as France, Germany, Hungary, Sweden and the UK report a general reduction of leakage rates and thus of direct emissions due to more frequent leakage checks and service as well as improved technicians’ skills.

The Netherlands, where a similar system (STEK) was already put in place in 1992, report a reduction from an over 20 per cent average annual leakage rate to a 3.5 per cent annual leakage rate over the past years.

In view of the current review of the F-Gas Regulation,EPEE supports the continuation of a single coherent policy at EU-level for F-gases and products containing F-gases.

EPEE members believe that a phase-down of HFCs is the right path to follow as it would give flexibility to manufacturers to make the best choice of refrigerants in view of energy efficiency, emission reduction, cost effectiveness, health and safety constrains, affordability and total life cycle costs.

Choosing the best refrigerant for an application depends on these variables and considerations - a ban on the use of HFCs in certain applications would risk pushing users to use refrigerants which are not well adapted to the application, potentially leading to increased safety concerns and reduced energy efficiency – thereby jeopardising the EU’s 20-20-20 targets.

John Davey, commercial director, Harp International

This review may be especially challenging given the relatively short period of time the regulation has been in place and the broad interpretation of the effectiveness of measures already adopted.

It is also worth remembering the broader picture: current and any future changes impact on a whole host of user industries, not solely to the RAC sector.

Assuming that additional measures are required to reduce future emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases then a hydrofluorocarbon consumption cap and phase-down is probably the most likely scenario.

The critical element of this F-Gas review, as far as this industry is concerned, should be to maintain refrigerant choice.  There is no panacea in the refrigerant debate.

Ammonia, hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide and fluorocarbons must, and will, continue to play a role in different RAC application areas where operational and energy efficiency benefits can be maximised and limitations, such as flammability and toxicity, overcome.

The development of low GWP hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO’s) and non-flammable HFO/HFC refrigerant blends continues.  These products will have similar properties to traditional working fluids and have the potential to offer the RAC industry safe and efficient system solutions in the future.

Whatever decisions are made, one theme remains unchanged – the industry must continue to look for the best application specific solutions.

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