Due to the F Gas Regulations there is now significant pressure to reduce the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of fluorocarbon refrigerants.
Non-fluorocarbon refrigerants all have low GWP but the only family of pure compounds that have a very low GWP are the Hydro Fluoro Olefins (HFO). HFOs are significantly less flammable than current Class 2 and Class 3 refrigerants and in order to differentiate these products from other flammable refrigerants the A2L classification was introduced.
John Smith, President of the British Refrigeration Association (BRA), comments: “The F Gas regulation will require the use of refrigerants with significantly lower GWP in order to meet phase down requirements. Whilst HFO blends can be made non-flammable, there will always be a GWP penalty.
“The industry must face up to the need to make use of these fluids and understand the implications of their use.”
A2L refrigerants are now widely available and manufacturers are beginning to offer A2L alternatives to most existing HFCs. New cars have featured the A2L refrigerant R1234yf since 2012 and from January 2017 all new cars must use the fluid. Importantly, A2L refrigerants are not suitable for retro-fit applications so are only for use in new systems.
Smith continues: “The industry needs clear guidance on the use of A2L refrigerants in the field. FETA recognises that this issue is pertinent to several associations and is interacting with other organisations whilst also discussing the subject with the HSE in order to understand its viewpoint.
“Put simply, the F Gas Regulations will not work without the introduction of A2L refrigerants and the biggest challenge will be found in the air conditioning sector, where there is no non-flammable alternative to R410A.”
FETA is committed to providing clarity on A2L refrigerants and, with the aid of a new set of guidance notes, will be working hard to help the industry understand how and when to use the fluids, how to store them and how to transport them safely.