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CFC chiller conversions dipped in 1999

April 10, 2000
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ARLINGTON, VA — The pace of the replacement and conversion of CFC chillers slowed in 1999, leaving approximately 48,484 units still in use for comfort cooling in buildings, despite a ban on production of CFCs that became effective Dec. 31, 1995, according to a survey of chiller manufacturers released by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI).

Of the estimated 80,000 CFC chillers in place in the early 1990s, about 61% still relied on CFC refrigerants at the start of 2000. New non-CFC chillers, some of which are said to be at least 40% more efficient than older CFC-using chillers, accounted for 3,085 replacements.

Non-CFC refrigerants were used in the conversion of 491 units, for a total during 1999 of 3,576 chillers that no longer use CFCs. Table 1 estimates the conversions, replacements, and totals for the years 2000, 2001, and 2002 using centrifugals, screw, reciprocating, and absorption chillers.

According to the report, building owners have taken more than 31,516 chillers out of service, but conversions and replacements last year were slower than in 1998, when the total was 4,231 units.

At the current pace, ARI estimates that it will take more than 10 years to eliminate CFC chillers, which provide conditioned air in commercial-industrial facilities such as office buildings, hospitals, malls, airports, factories, sports complexes, government buildings, and institutions such as colleges.

Chiller manufacturers had expected a much faster rate of retirement of CFC chillers, according to the ARI report. As the units age, they become more likely candidates for replacement, ensuring a steady demand for the manufacturers over the next 10 years.

However, it also means that owners of CFC-using chillers must rely on stockpiled virgin CFC-11 and -12, and used refrigerant that has been reclaimed to ARI Standard 700 requirements. Non-CFC chillers use HFC-134a, HCFC-123, HCFC-22, and HFC-410A.

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