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Gradual phase-out of HCFCs

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Gradual phase-out of HCFCs

The European HVACR industry is currently faced with a major change, triggered by current EU legislation (EC Regulation 1005/2009) that has banned, as of December 31 2009, the use of virgin HCFCs for maintenance of systems installed on such date. From 01.01.2010 to 31.12.2014, the Regulation permits use only of HCFCs recycled and reclaimed through suitable regeneration. As R-22 is one of the the most widely-used HCFC gases, many companies for which refrigeration is a strategic activity are faced with the dilemma of identifying a solution able to guarantee effective functioning of systems that use this refrigerant. At least the following factors must be considered when assessing available options:

  • phase-out of production of R-22;
  • the only product available (presumably until 2014) will be regenerated R-22. As only a minor quantity (around 15%) of the R-22 recovered from plants can be regenerated, supplies of regenerated R-22 will be limited with, therefore, higher costs also in view of the complexity of the collection, recycling and regeneration process;
  • maintenance and refrigeration engineers will be required to intervene, in a very short time, on tens of thousands of systems installed all over Italy and Europe;
  • when assessing plant compliance with current and foreseeable future requirements, the age of the plant must also be considered (all equipment currently used is at least 8 years old). All these factors have generated a sector overload with a consequent increase in costs for companies that have not yet defined a replacement strategy.

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Planning process
The planning process should include the following steps
Servicing of existing plants
To service an existing plant, the refrigerant will have to be converted.
Replacement of HCFCs
Which types of refrigerant must be replaced?