The HCFC phase-out challenge (3)

The decision taken in September 2007 by the signatory countries of the Montreal Protocol to accelerate by 10 years the HCFC phase-out schedule entered into force and became binding to all Parties on May 14, 2008 (see the official notification: - In developing countries, production and consumption are to be phased out by 2030 and they are to be frozen as of 2013 (see Newsletter No. 33 and 34). For China, the HCFC phase-out is a real challenge for the industry since, according to JARN, China is the largest HCFC-22 producer and consumer in the world and more than 80% of products use HCFC-22 in the industrial refrigeration area. During the International Symposium organized by CRAA (China Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Industry Association) in December 2007 in Beijing, participants emphasized that the industry had succeeded in totally phasing-out CFCs in China by July 1, 2007, which was two and a half years before the deadline regulated by the Montreal Protocol, but agreed that the task was more complicated with HCFC phase-out. A representative from the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) considered that "the speeding-up of the HCFC substitution will have a big impact on the Chinese HVAC&R for a long time". Reported by Appliance Magazine, another representative from SEPA noted that "China's one-refrigerant era is at a close". Regarding how will China choose HCFC-alternative refrigerants, he expressed that "the most important thing is that Chinese enterprises should produce alternative refrigerants with independent intellectual property" but "hope to win low-priced patented technology transfer". Many Chinese manufacturers use R-410A (HFC) in air conditioners for export and a small number of air conditioners are sold in China using R-410A but this HFC solution does not seem fully accepted and for example is considered as "transitional" by one head of a Chinese air-conditioner manufacturer because of its global warming impact.2 Much attention has been paid to the possible use of natural refrigerants, including CO2, ammonia, and hydrocarbons but some manufacturers point out the flammability and toxicity hazards and the high cost of reengineering products.