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ASERCOM outlines its position on the proliferation of refrigerants

The heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration industry faces multiple challenges with the latest EU regulations coming into force. Several Ecodesign regulations require minimum efficiency performance standards for specific products. Those very same products are impacted by the HFC phase down of the new F-gas regulation (EU) No 517/2014.

ASERCOM strongly supports the new legislation and their resulting environmental benefits. All ASERCOM members want to meet the regulatory challenges with reliable solutions for their components and products.

As of 2017/2018 the phase down will restrict available quantities to 93% and 63% respectively. These percentages have to be lowered by another 11% of assumed import of pre-charged equipment into the EU.

New product ranges have to show significant improvements in their energy efficiency. At the same time these products are required to use the lowest amount of refrigerant with the lowest possible Global Warming Potential (GWP).

There are currently around 300 different refrigerants on the market, either established or under development. In analytical efforts to structure the HVACR products into relevant groups or segments there are often a minimum of 40-50 different segments defined. In addition these different segments need to be distinguished by a minimum of three climate ranges (cold, average, warm climate). ASERCOM believes that an appropriate segmentation is critical to success.

ASERCOM members have already evaluated the potential refrigerants for their performance and the applied cost impact for several years. Research conducted by ASERCOM members covers all refrigerant molecules in order to best meet the demands of their respective markets. This includes ‘natural’ fluids, such as R-744, R-600a, R-290 and R-717 (ammonia), HFOs (under evaluation), as well as zeotropic HFC-HFO mixtures.

In addition a lot of the new potential refrigerants are a mixture of several molecules and are ultimately A2L, and have a higher glide. The thermodynamic consequence of glide can result in some significant deviation versus performance declaration.

ASERCOM members are usually designing their products for a 15-20 year life expectancy. Most ASERCOM members have already, for several years, been looking into refrigerant alternatives for some applications. The product range development time is at least 12 months for a simple qualification, and up to three or four years for a complete new development. ASERCOM members are responsible for their products' warranty in regards to full refrigerant qualification.

This development effort can only be done for a few selected refrigerants that show the highest potential in preliminary tests. Only with a very focused approach will industry be able to achieve the phase down targets within the given time frame. This can be achieved with an appropriate segmentation approach per application. The evaluation of the sectors' relevant CO2 equivalent impact weight, together with development prioritization of our industry, will result in optimal results and will avoid doubling of development without additional benefit.

ASERCOM members know that the risk of the eventual proliferation of molecules is significant. This has been experienced already with the Montreal protocol.

ASERCOM members will work together towards the common goal to reduce direct and indirect CO2 emissions.

6 May 2015

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