The Refrigerant Issue: Is the Debate Cooling Off?

March 1, 2001
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The decline and fall of interest in refrigerants continues.

Back in the 1980s, when first CFCs and then HCFCs came under fire, refrigerants formed Topic No. 1 most everywhere. Packed ballrooms and meetings rooms were common.

In those early days, interest was bolstered by new EPA regulations on recovery and recycling, along with the phaseout aspects of the Montreal Protocol. (By the way, do you realize that in a few years, there will be people entering our industry who weren’t even born when the aforementioned issues first surfaced?)

There was much confusion back then. Sessions often started with mind-numbing explanations of various atmospheric matters. Contractors and technicians turned to manufacturers for answers when those sources didn’t have the answers. When a manufacturer did announce a viable alternative refrigerant or a workable recovery procedure, the announcement was greeted with fanfare and attention.

Those days are long gone.

A recent example was an ASHRAE-sponsored seminar on climate change during the AHR Expo in Atlanta, GA. Five experts talked not only about newer refrigerants, but also those being used in each sector of the industry and how well they work in that sector. It was most interesting stuff (and has been reported on in the News).

But the seminar, which took place in a meeting room next to the exhibit hall before the hall opened, had at the most 100 persons in attendance in a room set up for 300. Counting exhibitors and visitors, there were probably close to 20,000 persons wandering about the building at that time.

There may be a simple reason for this. And that is, on the whole, the industry is comfortable with the refrigerants currently on the market and doesn’t see many twists and turns coming down the road.

But what if those twists and turns do come?

Expect to see those empty seats filling quickly.

Publication date: 03/05/2001

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