The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry is about to go through another refrigerant transition. The world has become more aware of the environmental impacts of refrigerants used in air conditioning, household appliances, and other applications, and that awareness has driven the industry to develop new refrigerants. Over the years, the industry has produced several offerings: chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) like R-22, and now hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) like current industry standard R-410A.
Recent international frameworks have spurred another transition. The market must now consider low global warming potential (GWP) alternative HFCs and hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blends.
The Montreal Protocol and The Kigali Amendment
The Montreal Protocol has guided the international transition of refrigerants, from CFCs to HCFCs to HFCs, and now, to low-GWP refrigerants. It was first agreed to in 1987 to address the impact of ozone-depleting substances that created an “ozone hole” over the South Pole.
In 2016, the international community updated the Montreal Protocol to address global warming by adopting the Kigali Amendment—named after the Rwandan capital where they met—and outlining a phasedown for the production and consumption of HFCs. The Amendment sets a clear schedule for reducing the amount of HFCs from baseline calculations over the next couple decades.
As of October 2021, 127 countries and the European Union have ratified the Kigali Amendment. The United States has not, but President Biden submitted the Amendment to the U.S. Senate for consideration and ratification in November*.
As the markets in other countries that have ratified the Kigali Amendment have selected R-32 as the refrigerant of choice, that can provide confidence to the North American market to also make the change to R-32.
Excerpted from: Legislation Driving the Next Generation of Refrigerants: Updated April 2021
*Updated December 2021
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