Issues that could some day affect the way HVACR contractors do business continue to draw attention in both Europe and Asia. Nothing being talked about right now has any direct impact on the North American market, but the issues remain on the industry’s radar screen for what possibly could happen in the future.
While polyvinylether (PVE) oil first started to be used by OEMs in 2010, it continues to draw interest, especially as a possible alternative to polyolester (POE) oils with HFC refrigerants. “So far in the States, we have two manufacturers using PVE extensively,” said Eric Schweim of Idemitsu Lubricants America Corp.
It has been more than two decades since the first refrigerant recovery unit came to the HVACR market and became part of the tool arsenal for service technicians. Over that time, two things have become clear: Even a repairable unit doesn’t last forever and the newest units are able to do far more than their predecessors.
The gravity of refrigerant leakage has evoked fines from the EPA of up to $25,000 per day for each violation. The unfortunate reality is that refrigerant leak sites are usually discovered only after there has been a loss of cooling due to discomfort, spoilage, or production difficulty. Repairing refrigerant leaks is not the problem - finding them is.
During a climate seminar event toward the end of 2010, members of the Consumer Goods Forum, made up of European sector manufacturers and retailers, announced intentions to ban their use of refrigerant gases that they said had high global warming - including HFCs - by 2015 and to replace them with natural refrigerants.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tried a bit of muscle flexing as 2011 started and promptly ran into some roadblocks, while at the same time causing the HVACR industry to keep an even more watchful eye on what the EPA may do next.
A recurring theme in refrigeration over the years has been efforts to bring equipment running on hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants to the United States market. The first foray in this regard has been to establish a beachhead in domestic refrigerators, as such equipment running on the HC propane is common in Europe.