RESTON, VA — A survey of large tonnage liquid chiller manufacturers by the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) revealed that by the end of this year, approximately 40,560 of the estimated 80,000 CFC-using chillers in service in the early 1990s will still use CFCs.

At this pace, ARI estimates it will take until the end of this decade to eliminate chillers that use CFC-11 and CFC-12, the two most widely used CFC refrigerants.

“This pace is not electrifying,” stated Ed Dooley, ARI vice president of Communications & Education.

Dooley revealed ARI’s latest chiller survey at the association’s annual spring meeting, held here last week. CFC chiller owners today must rely on stockpiled virgin CFC-11 and CFC-12 refrigerant or used refrigerant from chillers taken out of service that is reclaimed to meet purity requirements of ARI Standard 700. CFCs were banned from production in the U.S. at the end of 1995.

ARI’s latest survey revealed there were 3,235 CFC chiller replacements and 913 conversions to non-CFC refrigerants last year, to bring the total to 35,664 chillers that no longer use CFCs. Manufacturers said that this year they expect 452 conversions and 3,324 replacements to bring the total to 39,440 — and that’s 49% of the 80,000 CFC chillers.

“The number of replacements is less than expected earlier when the production ban (of CFCs) was announced,” said Dooley. “How-ever, the pace assures steady demand for the non-CFC units at home and abroad.”

According to ARI, manufacturer shipments in 2000 were up 18% over 1999 to 7,731 units, thanks to CFC replacements.

Trying to spin a positive note to the annual survey, Dooley noted that by the end of 2002, ARI expects that more than half (or 43,245) of the large tonnage chillers will have either been converted or replaced.

“The halfway mark is in sight,” he said. “We’re slowly, but surely, getting there.”

According to ARI, new non-CFC chillers reduce electricity costs because they can be at least 40% more efficient than the CFC units installed two decades ago. It also noted that non-CFC chillers, due to their higher efficiency, reduced electricity usage on an annual basis, beginning in 2000, by 7 billion-kilowatt hours per year, saving $480 million, and avoiding production of 4 million tons of carbon dioxide by power plants.

Publication date: 04/16/2001