WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public meeting to inform stakeholders of its proposed plan for a transition to “climate-friendly alternatives” to replace high-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants. This was in response to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls on the agency to use its authority under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program to identify and approve alternative refrigerants while prohibiting some uses of the most harmful chemicals. The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) reports that EPA announced that it was planning two separate proposed rulemakings.

The first rule will be proposed in the spring and will expand the list of low-GWP alternative refrigerants for air conditioning and refrigeration to include ethane, isobutane, propane, R-441A, and R-32 for selected applications. Since these refrigerants are flammable, the EPA is planning to propose appropriate use conditions that adopt safety standards.

The second rule, which will be proposed this summer, will likely change the status of the following refrigerants to “unacceptable:”

• R-134a and HFC blends with higher GWPs in vending machines, stand-alone reach-in coolers, and in various foam blowing end uses.

• R-507A, R-404A, and other HFC blends with high GWPs in multiplex supermarket systems. (R-407A and R-407F will retain their current status.)

In developing its proposals, the EPA said it will carefully consider the availability of alternatives and the amount of time it may take to convert to alternatives.

For more information on the SNAP program, visit www.epa.gov/ozone/snap.

Publication date: 2/17/2014

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