Refrigerant Wars Heat Up
Technical sessions took place over five days. Among the plenary speakers was S. Forbes Pearson, Ph.D., a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland. Another plenary speaker was Elsa Murano, Ph.D., of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
At ICR, Pearson focused on CO2, characterizing it as a natural refrigerant with no ozone depletion potential or global warming potential. Proponents of CO2 were more aggressively promoting their product at the event. Some 34 technical papers focused on CO2, a quantum leap above the single-digit number of papers on the topic at past conferences.
Because R-22 is scheduled for phaseout in all new equipment by 2010, plenty of talk in 2003 centered on its replacement. There will be no longer be any new R-22 produced for refrigeration and air conditioning service after 2020, although sales and use may continue. As a result, several new refrigerants have been developed to support the transition from HCFCs and HFCs. Leading refrigerants in this transition include R- 410A and R-407C. Experts believe R-134a (for chillers, large rooftops, etc.) and R-404A/R-507 (refrigeration) will replace R-22 on some applications as well.
Perhaps the least understood new refrigerant among contractors and technicians is R-410A. It is the one raising the most caution flags when it comes to higher pressure. As a result, many organizations, including the Winnipeg Chapter of the Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), offered seminars on the subject this year. Chances are, R-410A will still be on the refrigerant discussion radar screen in 2004.
Venting violations also made some news in 2003. Failure to tighten leaking systems running on R-22 resulted in a $5.25 million fine against a chain of bakeries in what is believed to be the largest single penalty to date for venting HCFCs. The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the fine as part of a "settlement that resolves significant ozone-depletion violations." The two government agencies said the violations were made by Earthgrains Baking Companies, Metz Baking Co., Earthgrains Refrigerated Dough Products, and Coppersmith, which operated collectively as Earthgrains. (Sara Lee Corp. purchased the companies during the government's investigation.)
Publication date: 12/29/2003