On May 29, 2020, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, Andrew Wheeler, signed a proposed rule that would list multiple substitute refrigerants for refrigeration and air conditioning equipment. The proposed listings are as follows:
- List R-448A, R-449A and R-449B as acceptable, subject to narrowed use limits, for use in retail food refrigeration—medium-temperature stand-alone units for new equipment.
- List R-452B, R-454A, R-454B, R-454C and R-457A as acceptable, subject to use conditions, for use in residential and light commercial air conditioning (AC) and heat pumps for new equipment and R-32 as acceptable, subject to use conditions, for use in residential and light commercial AC and heat pumps—equipment other than self-contained room air conditioners, for new equipment (Note: R-32 was previously listed as acceptable, subject to use conditions, in self-contained room air conditioners [April 10, 2015; 80 FR 19454]).
EPA is proposing these listings after its evaluation of human health and environmental information on various substitutes submitted to the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. The prepublished SNAP Rule 23 details these new and revised listings.
EPA had previously listed R-32 as acceptable subject to use conditions as a substitute in residential and light commercial air conditioning and heat pumps for self-contained room air conditioners, including packaged terminal air conditioners (PTACs), packaged terminal heat pumps (PTHPs), window AC units, portable room AC equipment, and wall-mounted self-contained ACs. In the most current proposed rulemaking, EPA is proposing to find R-32 acceptable, subject to use conditions, for self-contained ACs that are typically larger than room-size (e.g., rooftop units, water-source heat pumps, and ground-source heat pumps) and split systems, which are part of the residential and light commercial air conditioning and heat pump end-use.
As noted above, EPA is also proposing to list R-448A, R-449A, and R-449B as acceptable, subject to narrowed use limits, in new medium-temperature stand-alone units in retail food refrigeration.
Under the narrowed use limit, users intending to adopt these refrigerants “must ascertain that other alternatives are not technically feasible.” In addition, the end users “must document the results of their evaluation and retain the results on file for the purpose of demonstrating compliance. This documentation shall include descriptions of substitutes examined and rejected, processes or products in which the substitute is needed, reason for rejection of other alternatives, e.g., performance, technical or safety standards, and the anticipated date other substitutes will be available and projected time for switching to other available substitutes.”
EPA previously listed R-448A, R-449A, and R-449B as acceptable refrigerants in a number of other refrigeration and air conditioning end-uses, including other retail food refrigeration end-use categories.