The AHRI Safe Refrigerant Transition Task Force has completed the first two chapters of its Guide to the Safe Refrigerant Transition. This guide is one of several ways in which the Task Force aims to inform stakeholders about the important steps needed to ensure a safe transition to low-GWP refrigerants.
According to the Task Force, “The HVACR industry’s safe transition to low-GWP refrigerants requires proper training of all stakeholders to safely and responsibly transport, handle, install, and service equipment with ASHRAE Standard 34 Class A2L refrigerants. While the majority of the physical and chemical properties of A2L gases are very similar to the traditional ASHRAE Standard 34 Class A1 refrigerants (CFCs, HCFCs, and HFCs such as R-134a and R-410A), stakeholders must be aware of the properties of these lower flammability refrigerants and trained to mitigate associated risks.”
This guide is intended to help ensure a safe transition to mildly flammable A2L refrigerants.
The first chapter, entitled “The Changing World of HFC Regulations,” covers the history of recent refrigerant transitions, including an overview of why most countries around the world are looking to phase down the use of HFCs. The chapter also covers the similarities and differences in refrigerant classes and the potential risks they introduce, stating:
Differences in the properties of low-GWP refrigerants (e.g., flammability and toxicity) may require changes to current practices to minimize risk while meeting climate regulations. Some low-GWP refrigerants are historic products that have not been used in some time or that will be used with larger charge sizes (e.g., ammonia and hydrocarbons). Some other low-GWP refrigerants are in earlier stages of commercial use (R-32 in EU, Japan and Australia air conditioning; R-1234yf in automotive air conditioning in US, Canada, EU, Japan, and Korea), and other low-GWP refrigerants are being proposed for commercialization.
The second chapter, entitled “Chemical, Physical, and Environmental Properties of ASHRAE Standard 34 and ISO 817,” looks at flammability classifications of refrigerants and discusses the various properties of A2L refrigerants. This chapter concludes by noting that many of the basic chemical and physical properties of new generation A2L refrigerants are very similar to previous generation A1 (CFC/HFC) refrigerants and are readily available. In addition, the chapter notes that flammable refrigerants will only be used in new systems/applications designed and listed by a third-party laboratory to mitigate risks, and where allowed by appropriate codes and standards, unless approved by an authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).
AHRI’s Task Force was formed to address every step of the supply chain in the safe refrigerant transition to low GWP refrigerants. The group comprises AHRI members and stakeholders employed with contractors, government agencies, the fire service, unions, training organizations and other businesses.