The R-22 Challenge

July 7, 2008
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Service technicians are dealing with the phaseout of R-22 in various ways, including the use of alternative refrigerants in retrofit applications.


Just as there is concern in the air conditioning sector over the changeover away from R-22, there are similar fears that too much of that refrigerant is still being used on the refrigeration side. That’s one reason DuPont Refrigerants has advised supermarket industry executives and contractors that by 2010, the industry could experience a shortfall in the supply of R-22 as a result of the recent acceleration of the phaseout schedule outlined under the terms of the Montreal Protocol.

DuPont estimates that the majority of the 34,000 supermarkets in the United States are still using R-22 as the primary refrigerant. In a Webinar event, Nick Strickland, market development manager for DuPont Refrigerants, discussed possible R-22 supply shortfall scenarios. He also urged the audience to take immediate action to retrofit existing equipment with R-22 alternatives to ensure the continuity of their store operations as the phaseout deadline approaches.

“If you have a chain of supermarkets with 100 stores, you should be retrofitting more than one a week starting now in order to ensure the continuity of your business,” Strickland said. “In 2010 we anticipate a supply shortfall of R-22, as well as a possible labor shortage in the HVACR industry. Storeowners need to act now to avoid being negatively impacted by the regulatory timeline.”

He noted that there are a number of refrigerants available that allow a retrofit from HCFC-22 to HFC refrigerants that still work with mineral oil. “Retrofitting is an economical option, and it’s easy,” he said.

RETROFIT STEPS

For those who are involved in retrofits at a store, he urged establishing a relationship with “reputable refrigerant manufacturers and distributors,” and “agreeing to conduct a refrigerant retrofit.”

Next, he said, is information collection, including case model numbers, compressor models, the total number of TXVs and models, designated case loads, and creating single-line diagrams and operating conditions.

Then comes a system evaluation involving a field meeting with the contractor, expected TXV loading with new refrigerants, expected compressor capacity, and resolution of issues.

To conduct a field retrofit, Strickland said contractors need to be educated (especially regarding retrofit guidelines), and there needs to be access to technical support (especially during the initial retrofit).

R-422D is one of a number of refrigerants being used in the industry in the retrofit of systems originally designed for R-22.

Once the retrofit has been completed, Strickland said it is important to make value judgments on system performance and how well the refrigerant management plan was followed.

During the event, several contractors who had done such work were quoted. Bob Islola of AAA Refrigeration was involved in a retrofit at a supermarket in Massapequa, N.Y., that used HFC-422D (which DuPont markets as Isceon® MO29). He said, “I was a little surprised how well the retrofit went. Expansion valves have not been an issue, and we are really happy with how things are going.”

Based on a poll of the more than 150 attendees who participated in the online session, almost 70 percent said they expected the accelerated R-22 phaseout schedule to have a significant impact on their businesses, and nearly 87 percent said they were planning to retrofit or are recommending retrofits of existing equipment in advance of the 2010 deadline.

For more information, visit www.isceon.com.

Publication date: 07/07/2008

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