France: containment of refrigerating data plants

French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) recently published a study conducted by Cemafroid and IRSTEA on the containment of refrigerating plants.
French Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) published in September 2015 a study conducted by Cemafroid and IRSTEA on the containment of refrigerating plants. This study is based on a general literature review and an online questionnaire sent to over 500 equipment owners/installers in France.
In France, HFCs represent 75% of the refrigerant bank, including 40% for R134a. The distribution of the refrigerant bank is the following: mobile air-conditioning (27%), industry (20%), chillers (15%), air conditioning (14%), commercial refrigeration (11%), heat pumps (5%), domestic refrigeration (5%) and transport (3%).
The fugitive leakage rate for all refrigerants appears to be about 17%. A more than 20% variation in charge has significant impact on energy consumption.
The components that make up assemblies used in refrigeration and air-conditioning are not inherently leak-prone. What is at issue is how they are assembled. The tightening torque is an important piece of information supplied by the manufacturer, which must be complied with by using a torque wrench.
The authors stress the importance of reducing the number of welded or soldered connections and prohibit the use of Schrader connections. All valves must be capped.

In their presentation on this study during IIR ICR2015*, E. Devin et al specified that survey data shows that 50% of the total number of annually detected leakages represent “small leakages” with a flow rate between 5 and 10 g/year. At the same time, from 4% to 8% of the leaks have a rate of between 500 g/year and 5 kg/year. These “big leaks” contribute to 70% of total mass losses.
The authors stress that leakage detection procedures should be more standardized.
The study also raises the technical relevance of substantially increasing the detection thresholds of the detectors to make leak testing more effective.
* Presentation available via Fridoc database: