EU F-Gas Regulation phase-down: BRA stresses the vital part of reclaimed/recycled HFCs

The report “Putting into Use Replacement Refrigerants” produced by an Action Group made up of members of the British Refrigeration Association (BRA) aims to help industry players meet some of the requirements of the EU F-Gas Regulation which came into force on January 1, 2015, especially the ban on using refrigerants with a GWP of more than 2,500 from the year 2020.

Reclaim refrigerant can be used for servicing until 2030. It is generally accepted in the industry that R404A (GWP=3922) availability is likely to reduce substantially well before 2020.

According to the report, it is not going to be possible in terms of human resources or financing for all R404A systems to be replaced or charged with new refrigerants by 2020. These number ranges between 12,000 to 20,000 systems in the UK. Changing 10% of existing systems using R404A each year is the fastest rate at which this can be reasonably achieved.

A working hypothesis would be that 5% are replaced by low-GWP systems and the other 5% by change of refrigerant. If this were to be achieved, migration away from R404A systems would be complete by 2025. To keep the remaining R404A systems going, it will be necessary to use recycled or reclaimed R404A. It is crucial that R404A removed from systems is kept for servicing systems that remain in use.

Owners of R404A systems should ensure they manage product removed, and that it is recycled or reclaimed. The period of maximum stress will be when virgin R404A becomes short and there are still a large number of R404A systems in use. This is likely to be around 2019 to 2021.