New whitepaper published
Refrigerant phase-down: The new F-gases regulation
On January 1, 2020, a new stage of the F-Gases Regulation – VO(EG) 517/2014 – came into force to reduce the emission of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases). This affects more than 2 million refrigeration and air conditioning systems in industry and commerce. Start now to future-proof the refrigeration supply in your company. We have compiled the most important information on the conversion as well as tips on implementation for you.
Background: Phase-down F-gases and quota system
Within the framework of the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols, it was decided to reduce emissions of F-gases in order to limit a further global rise in temperature. The use of environmentally friendly alternatives to F-gases with a high greenhouse effect is to be promoted in the European Union by means of restrictions on use and market, as well as the reduction of F-gases available on the market by means of a quota system. The quota system provides for a gradual reduction in the available F-gases, starting on 01.10.2015 with 100% and ending on 01.01.2030 with only 21%.
From January 1, 2020, the placing on the market and use of refrigerants with a relative global warming potential (GWP) ≥ 2500 in stationary commercial refrigeration systems with charge volumes ≥ 40 t CO2 equivalent and the placing on the market in commercial, plug-in, hermetically sealed refrigeration systems will be prohibited in the European area. In the long term, only refrigerants with a GWP value < 400 will be sustainable after the phase-down. Previously commercially available refrigerants such as R404A, R407, R410A, R507A and others may no longer be used for new systems and, from 2030 at the latest, also in existing systems. This means that the operation of systems with these refrigerants will no longer be permitted after 2030. A plant failure can result in longer-lasting shutdowns and larger investment replacement measures. Even today, these systems are subject to increased requirements for leakage checks, depending on their charge quantities, and thus require comparatively higher maintenance.
The quotation of CO2 equivalents, together with the market policy of the manufacturers, is already leading to a shortage and thus to some drastic price increases for fluorinated refrigerants. Supply bottlenecks have already occurred and cannot be ruled out in the future.
What to look for when choosing a refrigerant and converting a system
A refrigerant has to meet a wide range of requirements, ideally all of which should be fulfilled at the same time. However, the choice of refrigerant is always a compromise based on the required properties weighted according to the refrigeration application. There is no ideal refrigerant for all applications.
Natural refrigerants such as CO2, propane, isobutane, ammonia and water are sustainable. New HFO refrigerants such as R1234 yf /ze/ zd, R449A and R452A, whose GWP values are below 10, are already being offered as alternative refrigerants. Other refrigerants are under development and testing.
Low-GWP refrigerants often have special thermodynamic properties and sometimes require more demanding safety precautions. For example, natural refrigerants are toxic like ammonia or flammable like propane. New refrigerant mixtures lead to unforeseen potential hazards, as with R1234yf (drinking water hazard due to decomposition product trifluoroacetic acid (TFA)). This results in safety requirements, for example for the installation rooms and the routing of the refrigerant-carrying lines.
Drop-in refrigerants must have the same physical and thermodynamic properties as the original refrigerants used. This applies in particular to the pressures, the specific volumetric refrigerating capacity, the discharge gas temperature and the safety group of the refrigerant. As a rule, only a few components are replaced (expansion valves, seals, refrigerating machine oil). The maximum available refrigeration capacity of the existing refrigeration system may be reduced by changing to a drop-in replacement refrigerant. However, designated drop-in refrigerants are not necessarily future-proof in the sense of the F-Gas regulation.
Converting a refrigeration system to a different refrigerant is a significant change. It requires a new risk assessment and manufacturer’s declaration. It must be checked whether safety or acceptance regulations are affected or other restrictions apply. In addition, the design and calculation data for components and substances must be obtained from which the continued usability can be determined. If this is not possible, components must be replaced or the entire system must be replaced.
Especially for already older refrigeration systems, a replacement of the entire system should be considered, especially since these are usually associated with efficiency improvements and a better performance adjustment to the current operating situation.
Our tip: Heat pumps for simultaneous cooling and heat generation
The necessary redesign of the cooling supply can be used as an opportunity to take a holistic view of the energy supply in the company. In this context, special attention should be paid to heat pump technology.
In conventional refrigeration systems, the heat energy extracted from the process plus the drive energy converted into heat is released into the environment as waste heat at great expense. This not only pollutes the environment, but is also a waste of energy.
Heat is often required at a temperature level of 60°C to 90°C. Heat pumps can be used to generate cooling and heating at the same time. Modern storage solutions also offer the possibility of compensating for use-specific, temporal or capacitive differences. High-temperature heat pumps can also generate temperatures of > 100°C.
Refrigerant Phase-Down Whitepaper (German)
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For detailed information, we’ve created a free whitepaper. You will learn:
- Background and opportunities of the F-Gases Regulation
- What to look for when choosing a refrigerant
- What to consider when converting the system
- Energy concepts in combination with public funding
- From energy management to climate protection management