Recent legislation is enforcing the removal and replacement of the low temperature refrigerant- R22 refrigeration system. R22 refrigerants are widely used throughout process chiller and industrial refrigerant plants, although these changes in legislation affect any company that sustains the need for or has a high requirement for R22 refrigeration.
Why are the R22 legislation changes being made?
The reasoning behind the changes in the R22 refrigeration legislation is simple – studies have shown they have a detrimental effect on the ozone layer resulting in excessive UV levels. Due to this, the R22 refrigerants may contribute to further environmental damage. The extent to which R22 refrigerants contribute to global warming is still the subject of intensive debate, although many affected companies have taken the opportunity to comply with the new regulations earlier than planned. This is being demonstrated at two levels:
Firstly, the majority of R22 refrigeration units are at least one third of their way through their foreseeable life. As existing R22 refrigeration systems begin to require modernisation, the majority of companies are choosing to phase these out rather than go to expense of needlessly repairing or maintaining them.
Secondly, unlike the R22 refrigerants, each new factory build/extension will now use refrigerants such as ammonia and R404A which have zero ozone depleting potential. These refrigerants are also proven to be more energy efficient than the R22 refrigerant and are therefore a wiser and more popular choice for the companies in question.
What are my company’s alternatives to R22?
Most companies that are affected by the R22 legislation will have a policy to ensure that only the following environmentally friendly refrigerants are incorporated in new equipment: ammonia, R404A and R407c. The chosen alternative is decided at business unit level and is usually dependant upon the business’ requirements towards energy efficiency.
R22 Replacement – When do the changes have to be completed by?
Although many companies have undergone or are in the process of R22 replacement, huge conversions still need to be undertaken despite the passing of the 2015 deadline for completely phasing out R22 refrigerants.
Additional complications come about when considering the pressure of changing a R22 refrigeration system has upon a company that relies upon the refrigerator for is daily running. Key to a smooth transition lies with ensuring the successful project management of the removal of the R22 refrigerant and professional installation of a replacement system.
Central project issues include effective and efficient utilisation of existing equipment wherever possible, construction of new building, minimising disruption to ongoing operations and the smooth integration of new plant during a suitable period. Most importantly, the careful and safe removal of the R22 and its integral chemicals is foremost to an effective exchange. The replacement of R22 also carries substantial risk as the new refrigerants contain Hydrocarbons. Consisting mostly of Iso-butane, Propane and Ammonia, these refrigerants have additional hazards associated with them which will require specialist engineering skills to deal with.
In addition, there is also an impending ‘Mandatory registration’ of engineers onto the ACRIB register and Companies onto the REFCOM register that must be adhered to.