The Commercial Heating Industry Cools Down on HCFCs
The air conditioning and heating industry in Australia has always been supportive of the phasing out of damaging refrigerants like hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). One such bad egg is R22. It has a high ozone depletion rate and has been scientifically proven to be damaging to the environment. The Australian industry will phase out imports of HCFC's by 2016. However around 45 tonnes of R22 will still be imported into Australia each year until 2029, when R22 will be phased out of service equipment completely.
The Phase-Out of Chlorine-Containing Refrigerants
The book 'Ultraviolet Reflections: Life Under a Thinning Ozone Layer' by Annika Nilsson, contains extensive scientific data to support the hypothesis that chlorine refrigerants deplete the earth's ozone layer. The shrinking ozone layer is attributed to the rise in skin cancers and other diseases.
Up until the 90's, one of the key ingredients in refrigerant manufacture was chlorine. The new era of refrigerant usage in the HVAC industry in Australia includes non-chlorine-containing refrigerants. These are scientifically proven to be much safer for the environment and all living animals (including humans).
The Montreal Protocol was created in 1987 to provide global guidelines on the phasing out of chlorine-containing refrigerants. This proved to be an enormously successful with 196 nations pledging to follow the guidelines. However that was only the beginning of the phasing out period.
Since then, an enormous amount of research has gone into the engineering and production of HVAC systems. Energy efficient design has become paramount in the fight to reduce CO2 emissions. If refrigerant gas escapes out of a heating or cooling system, it can directly contribute to global warming. In short, refrigerant use by the industry is contentious; and requires constant vigilance and training to manage the volatile substance in an eco-friendly way.
NASA's take on ozone depletion
The Golden Rules for Refrigerant Usage
Here's three golden rules for assessing the efficacy of your refrigerant. If it doesn't meet this criteria then consider upgrading your commercial or industrial system to be commensurate with the global standards.
- It must be safe
- It must be environmentally friendly
- It must provide excellent performance benefits, thus resulting in zero ozone depletion and low global warming potential (GWP).
How Evoheat Can Help
Evoheat only use zero depleting refrigerants with a low global warming potential (GWP). We use R134A and R410A refrigerant gas. The greenhouse gas emissions produced from this refrigerant are very low. Evoheat's heat pump systems and air conditioning units are incredibly durable, safe and also built to be exceptionally eco-friendly and energy efficient.
Unfortunately, R22 equipment can't be retrofitted to use any of these new refrigerants such as R410A, due to the significantly higher operating pressures. So it's probably the case that building and site managers and engineers should investigate new equipment options. If you do need advice then speak with Evoheat.
Other Types of Refrigerants
There are other types of non-halogen substances that can be used as refrigerants, such as ammonia and carbon dioxide. However they are highly volatile and present high risks when handled in the workplace. It's for this reason that these refrigerants haven't taken off in a huge way yet.
A New Holistic Approach to Refrigerants
According to an article by Raj Rajendran in Climate Change News, industry should take a holistic approach to selecting refrigerants. This should be based on the life-cycle climate performance (LCCP). This includes four key elements:
- Leak rate
- Charge amount
- Refrigerant global warming impact (GWP)
- Indirect global warming effects (energy consumed, source of energy)
Another key element for refrigerant usage by industry is responsible stewardship, training and containment methods for refrigerant gas. The whole picture including global sustainability and energy efficiency is a choice that's possible by everyone.
Refrigerant Handling Best Practices
The Alliance of Responsible Atmospheric Policy (ARAP), is a government body in the US that recently released a list of best practices for safely handling refrigerants.
- Contain in closed lid systems: including tight lid containers.
- Encourage monitoring after installation: this lowers the risk of direct refrigerant emissions. and maintains a high level of energy efficiency.
- Train all personnel: in effective and safe refrigerant handling.
- Comply with standards: on refrigerant safety, proper installation and maintenance. (ASHRAE-15, ISO-5149 and European Standard EN378).
- Purchase and install heat pumps with energy-efficient refrigerants: Or alternately continue to improve equipment efficiency when it's cost-effective to do so.
For reliable, safe and high performance commercial heat pump systems, speak with Evoheat. We offer systems that are energy-efficient and use zero ozone depleting refrigerant.
''Refrigerants for commercial applications''. Climate Control News, by Raj Rajendran. 11th June 2013. http://www.climatecontrolnews.com.au/news/refrigerants-for-commercial-applications
''Timeline for the phaseout of R22'', Climate Control News, 24th May 2013. http://www.climatecontrolnews.com.au/news/timeline-for-the-phase-out-of-r22