The use of hydrocarbon refrigerants in Europe
The European Union-funded LIFE FRONT project1 recently published a report entitled Impact of standards on hydrocarbon refrigerants in Europe. The report focuses on the current use of hydrocarbon refrigerants and evaluates the impact of standards on the future adoption of equipment using these refrigerants.
The report underlines that even if the reviewing of current charge size limits for flammable refrigerants is underway within several European and international standards in the field of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump, the length of the process and the timelines for review are unclear in most cases. The main standards involved are standards EN 378 and ISO 5149. Product standards IEC 60335-2-40 for air conditioning and heat pumps and IEC 60335-2-89 for commercial refrigeration are expected to be revised in 2019-2022 timeframe.
The standardization development process of each kind of standard is explained on pages 17-20. For example, to develop a European standard such as EN 378, 7 stages are needed:
- the proposal,
- the acceptance of the proposal,
- the drafting,
- the committee stage,
- a public enquiry,
- the adoption by weighted formal vote,
- the publication of the EN. The European standard is from now also given the status of national standard in all member countries.
Those many steps can explain that the timeframe for adopting a standard is generally three years.
In another part of the report, responses to various surveys on the use of hydrocarbons are summarized. 461 individual responses were collected in industry, including 44% of large companies (more than 250 employees), 35% of small business (1 to 50 employees) and 21% of medium sized companies (50 to 249 employees). 49% of the respondents came from the European Union.
The research shows that the main driver for adoption of those refrigerants is the low environmental impact, followed by compliance with current and future legislation (including the F-gas). Safety concerns and current limitations on charge sizes were ranked as the most important barriers to wider uptake of hydrocarbon refrigerants.
Over half of respondents indicated they already work with hydrocarbons to some extent. Over 50% of respondents who do not use hydrocarbons yet plan to start in the future, while 30% remain undecided.
To read the entire report, please follow this link.
1 LIFE FRONT is a demonstration project with best-practice elements, combining two main objectives under the EU’s Climate Action – Climate Change Mitigation 2016 priority area. The project is funded under LIFE, the EU’s financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the bloc. Front stands for: Flammable Refrigerant Options for Natural Technologies. See also: http://lifefront.eu