The Montreal Protocol has guided the international transition of refrigerants, from CFCs to HCFCs to HFCs, and now, to low-GWP refrigerants. So, you may think that the lower a refrigerant’s GWP the better. But is a refrigerant’s GWP the only characteristic that should be considered? I believe the answer is no. There are many other refrigerant characteristics that can and should be considered, and I would like to highlight the importance of recovery, reuse, and reclamation of refrigerants.
You might have noticed the many “R’s” associated with the world of refrigerants, so let’s first go over the different “R’s”.
- Recovery: This is to remove refrigerant in any condition from an appliance and store it in an external container.
- Reuse: US EPA’s Section 608 Refrigerant Management Regulation allows refrigerant to be reused in equipment of the same owner without meeting all of the requirements for reclamation. The EPA often describes this reuse process as “recycling” refrigerant.
- Reclaim: This is to reprocess, most commonly at an off-site reclamation facility, back to at least the purity specified in the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) Standard 700-2016.
Just like with any other material, whether it is paper, glass, plastic, or metals, wouldn’t you want to manage their use and recycle them when possible? This concept of proper management is becoming important in refrigerants, just like with any other materials.