Are you F-gas ready?
The F-gas regulations (EU No 517/2014) on fluorinated greenhouse gases, and the UK Ozone-Depleting Substances and Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, restrict the use of fluorinated gases (F-gases). Fluorinated refrigerants are still widely applied in many cooling sectors. However, new bans on the use of F-gases will enter into force on 1st January 2022.
From that date refrigerators and freezers for commercial use (hermetically sealed equipment) will be banned in the UK and Europe if they contain a fluorinated refrigerant with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of greater than 150. This follows on from the change in 2020 where equipment with a refrigerant with a GWP of greater than 2,500 was banned.
Additionally bans will also apply to fluorinated refrigerants in multipack centralised refrigeration systems for commercial use that have a rated capacity of 40 kW or more. The use of refrigerants with a GWP of 150 or more are banned (except in the primary refrigerant circuit of cascade systems where fluorinated greenhouse gases with a GWP of less than 1,500 may be used).
The regulation is critical for refrigerants such as R134a which has a GWP of 1,430. A quick assessment to determine the level of systems we assume to be hermetically sealed that are currently on the market with refrigerants such as R134a demonstrated that many appliances operating on R134a are still available. Interestingly appliances operating on R507 (GWP of 3,985) and R404A (GWP of 3,922) were also still available even though there has been a ban on sales of refrigerators and freezers for commercial use (hermetically sealed equipment) that contain HFCs with a GWP of 2,500 or more since 2020. It was clear from the assessment that many small hermetically sealed systems that probably previously operated using R404A had already transitioned to refrigerants such as R452A (GWP of 2,140). These pieces of equipment will now have to be adapted for a lower GWP alternative for the January 2022 deadline.
Further F-gas refrigeration bans are scheduled until 2025 as part of the current F-gas regulation. The regulation is being assessed with the view to more significant reductions in high GWP refrigerants (potentially all refrigerants and not just F-gases). This is partly because of the European Green Deal and the raised climate ambition and commitment to net greenhouse gas emission reductions of at least 55% by 2030, and climate neutrality by 2050. The new regulation was due to be available before the end of 2021.
If you would like further information on the new refrigerant bans and the potential to adapt equipment to operate using lower GWP alternatives then please contact Alan Foster at RD&T (firstname.lastname@example.org).
 From AR4