The HCFC phase-out challenge
- The Montreal Protocol (MP) is unanimously considered as a resounding success of the international community. As of 2006, according to UNEP, the 191 Parties which have ratified the MP have reduced their consumption of ozone-depleting substances by approximately 95%*. It is believed that with full implementation of all of the provisions of the MP, the ozone layer should return to pre-1980 levels by 2050 to 2075.* The refrigeration sector, which was using 40% of CFCs - the main ozone-depleting substances family - in use when the MP entered into force, has played a decisive role in ensuring the success of the MP. Marking the 20th anniversary of the signing of the MP, representatives of the signatory countries agreed, during COP19 in September 2007, to accelerate by 10 years the phase-out schedule of ozone-depleting HCFCs (see Newsletter No. 32): in developing countries, production and consumption are to be frozen by 2013 to the 2009-2010 reference level and phased out by 2030 (with 2.5% reference production allowed for servicing in the period 2030-2040); in developed countries, production and consumption are to be reduced by 75% in 2010 and phased out by 2020 (with 0.5% of reference production allowed for servicing in the period 2020-2030). This acceleration will also contribute to global warming mitigation since it should decrease the CO2 equivalent emissions by 18-25 billion metric tons (> 3.5% of the global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions). Elimination of HCFCs represents a new huge challenge for the refrigeration sector due to the very wide use of HCFCs in the various refrigerating applications worldwide. The IIR has therefore decided to have a regular section dedicated to this issue in the Newsletter and to present the situation and initiatives in various countries confronted with this challenge. - In the US, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established specific regulations for the implementation of the MP, focusing on the most ozone-depleting HCFCs (HCFC-141b production was banned in 2003) and on HCFC-22, due to the proeminent place of this refrigerant in US refrigerating plants: production and importation of HCFC-22 - and HCFC-142b used above all in insulation foams - will be phased out by 2010, except (until 2020) for use in equipment manufactured before 2010. In order to meet this schedule, some initiatives are being launched and include EPA's GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership (which gathers 10 companies including 6 grocery store chains and 2 manufacturers of refrigerating equipment, DuPont and Honeywell International, which is aimed at helping supermarkets prepare the phase-out of HCFC-22 which is used in more than 70% of the 34 000 US supermarkets. HFCs are clearly the main alternative refrigerants currently considered in the US as witnessed by the opening in September 2007 by Arkema of the world largest HFC-32 production plant (25 000 tons per year) in Calvert City, Kentucky, HFC-32 being an essential component of HFC blends such as R-410A.