The long-term availability of HFCs survived another effort at phase-down during the 23rd Meeting of the Parties (MOP23) to the Montreal Protocol held in November 2011. Participants did not reach agreement on taking any action to control HFCs.
While there are no pending regulations that would curb production of HFCs, those specific refrigerants are a part of the equation when talk turns to the broad, emotionally laden topic of global warming.
In the move to new refrigerants, while the seals, compression ratios, efficiency ratings, and other considerations were painstakingly engineered, other system components were taken for granted. So the refrigerants changed, but what about the standards governing products that transport and contain those refrigerants?
When mechanical refrigeration came along, refrigerants such as sulfur dioxide and ammonia and the fluorocarbons were introduced. The latter two — ammonia and f-gases — are still being used. Of the fluorocarbons, the choices were pretty simple: CFCs -11, -12, and -502. It is not so simple these days.
As hard as certain elements in Europe continue to push for a ban on f-gas refrigerants including HFCs, there is an equally strong push back by those who want any decisions based on a range of factors that could well keep HFCs in play for a long time.
Honeywell has announced that Bitzer has approved the use of HFC-407F (marketed by Honeywell as Genetron® Performax™ LT refrigerant in North America) as an HCFC-22 retrofit solution for medium-temperature systems, such as supermarket refrigerated cases.
Ferris State University’s Commercial Refrigeration Laboratory has gone totally chlorine-free. By replacing the refrigerant HCFC-22 that was in two medium-temperature commercial refrigeration cases in the laboratory, the students in the associate degree program in HVACR can boast that the lab is now chlorine-free.
If there is to be a next generation of refrigerants in stationary equipment beyond hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), it appears they will be hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs). And if that transition is to take place in the United States, it could be because of regulations or better energy efficiencies - or both.