F-gas Regulation and Refrigerant Restrictions 2020

The effects of F-gas regulation (EU 517/2014) are showing in the market already, and the time is running out to the next time line, 1.1.2020. From this date onwards, all the HFC-refrigerants with a global warming potential (GWP ) of 2500 or more, are not allowed to be used in new installations of commercial (and professional) refrigeration equipment with few exceptions.

Until 1.1.2030 it is allowed to use regenerated HFC’s (> GWP 2500) for service purposes only.

Since 2013, Porkka has placed HFC-free refrigeration equipment in to the market, such as counters, cabinets and modular cold rooms. All Porkka products has been built with HFC-free insulation since 1990’s. Instead of HFC, these units use natural refrigerants (HC), such as R290.

Both R290 and R600 have GWP of only 3, and contain no fluorine or chlorine. The new updated regulatory limit is based to the individual lower flammability limit (LFL ) of the refrigerant. For both R290 and R600 it is less than 494 g fill limit per circuit. The latest revision of IEC 60335-2-89 allows the usage of R600a up to 559 g.

Currently there are plenty of new interim refrigerants placed in to the market to replace R404A often called as HFO’s. The benefit of these mixtures is to have lower GWP than 2500. Most used are R448A, R449A, R452A and R454A. The challenge with these new mixtures is that they are not pure HFO’s but a mixture of HFC’s and HFO’s. HFO’s themselves, though not restricted, belongs to the group of other fluorinated greenhouse gases subject to reporting. HFO’s are harmful for atmosphere because of the decay product TFA (trifluoroacetic acid).

Refrigerant     GWP Contents
R448A 1273 – 1387 (R32/R125/R1234yf/R134a/R1234ze)
R449A 1397 (R32/R125/R1234yf/R134a)
R452A 2141 (R32/R125/R1234yf)
R454A 238 (R32/R1234yf)

GWP’s of individual refrigerants used in these mixtures are quite high, excl. HFO’s.

R 32 GWP   675
R 125 GWP 3500
R 134a GWP 1430
R 404A GWP 3922

The revolution of the refrigerants

The purpose of the F-gas regulation is to protect atmosphere and environment by diminishing the global warming. On of the major tools is to restrict the placing of the HFC’s on the market down to 21 % from the volume of 2015 level by 2030. The real life effect in terms of availability and price are already shown in the market in terms of dramatically increased prices. At the moment, the availability of HFC refrigerants has been decreased down to 63 %.

New cut off’s will take place beginning of 2021 restricting the availability of HFC’s down to 45 % in terms of CO2 equivalent tons. This is a major feature to be taken in to consideration, when investing in the refrigeration equipment today.

With plug-in ready models the usage of HFO/HFC-blends will be quite a short term solution, due to approaching  restrictions taking in to force 1.1.2022, after which the GWP must be less than 150.

With remote systems, there are already more environmental friendly solutions available, such as R 744 (CO2) and R290 using water loop systems. The revolution of the refrigerants is getting near and fast.

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