AHRI Warns of Counterfeits

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) has issued an alert regarding safety hazards and counterfeit refrigerants.

Counterfeit R-134a, containing R-40 (methyl chloride or chloromethane), has been found in mobile air conditioners, stationary air conditioning, and transport refrigeration systems in many countries.

For personal safety, and to avoid serious injury or death, special care must be taken when accessing the service ports to sample or work on systems that are not functioning properly or have been serviced by others. R-40 chemically reacts with aluminum inside HVACR systems to generate highly reactive and toxic compounds, and exposure of the system’s contents to air and/or moisture could result in production of a strong acid and violent chemical reaction. Several container systems have exploded at service facilities, some resulting in fatalities. Some of these systems were found to contain R-40 and/or other unacceptable substances.

Compounds such as R-40, R-22, R-142b, R-152a, and R-12 have been found mixed with R-134a in newly filled refrigerant cylinders marked as containing R-134a. There have also been instances of counterfeited brand name R-134a cylinders sold containing refrigerants other than R-134a.

Research is being conducted by ASHRAE to identify the reaction mechanisms for R-40 and aluminum inside systems, as well as other reaction products. It is also necessary to determine the concentration of R-40 that is safe as a contaminant. AHRI Standard 700-2012, Specification for Fluorocarbon Refrigerants, would allow up to 0.5 percent of other volatile impurities. There have been no known issues arising from refrigerant that meets AHRI Standard 700.

The problem with counterfeit and contaminated refrigerants goes beyond just R-134a, though.

Other refrigerants, including R-22, R-404A, and R-410A, have also been found to be counterfeit and, in some instances, badly contaminated. Cylinder labels and packaging have been counterfeited in some instances, and therefore are not reliable indicators of the authenticity of the contents of a cylinder.

Contaminated refrigerants can cause a variety of issues that may range from increasing energy use and decreasing cooling performance, to significantly reducing the operating life of equipment, and even dramatic and injurious equipment failures, as in the case of R-40 contamination. In addition, some counterfeit refrigerant products contain varying amounts of ozone-depleting substances, which may be illegal in certain parts of the world under the terms of the Montreal Protocol.

Publication date: 3/11/2013

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to The NEWS Magazine

You must login or register in order to post a comment.



Image Galleries

2014 Energy Efficiency Forum

Highlights from the 25th annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington, D.C.


NEWSMakers: Mark Satterfield

Mark Satterfield, founder and CEO of Gentle Rain Marketing Inc. and author of “The One Week Marketing Plan” talks about his book and the importance of HVAC blogging. Posted on Sept. 19.

More Podcasts


NEWS 09-15-14 cover

2014 September 15

Check out the weekly edition of The NEWS today!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

Venting R-22

The NEWS reported that a man received prison time for venting R-22. Should EPA step up enforcement?
View Results Poll Archive


2014 National Plumbing & HVAC Estimator

Every plumbing and HVAC estimator can use the cost estimates in this practical manual!

More Products

Clear Seas Research


Clear Seas ResearchWith access to over one million professionals and more than 60 industry-specific publications, Clear Seas Research offers relevant insights from those who know your industry best. Let us customize a market research solution that exceeds your marketing goals.


Magazine image
Register today for complete access to Get full access to the latest features, Extra Edition, and more.


facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconLinkedIn i con