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Friday, 9 November 2012

Friday Guest Blog: R22 - The Final Countdown

By Eric Asquith - Renewable Technologies Manager, Ergro

R22 remains a very common refrigerant in EXISTING systems used by many air conditioning and process engineering users. From 2010 the regulation banned the use of virgin R22 as a top up refrigerant for maintenance and 2015 for recycled refrigerant.

From midnight on DECEMBER 31ST 2014 the sale and storage of R22 recycled and reclaimed refrigerant will be banned. Overnight this will make air conditioning units and process machines using R22 refrigerant unserviceable and leave unprepared businesses with un-operational buildings as soon as the equipment breaks down. Just as the once distant London Olympics were suddenly upon us, this legislation will catch unprepared companies out if action is not taken now. There are only two financial years left to prepare for any required modifications and by seeking guidance now, companies will gain time to minimise any disruption caused by upgrading or replacing existing equipment.

What are the changes in legislation?

During the 1990s a programme was implemented to phase out ozone depleting substances, starting with the most harmful CFCs and then expanding to include the more commonly known and used CFCs such as R22. Over the years this rolling programme has had a deliberately increasing impact on UK companies, most recently in 2010 when the supply and storage of virgin HCFCs was outlawed and only recycled or reclaimed HCFCs remained legal. At the end of 2014 the legislation will once again extend its remit, this time to ban the sale or storage of ozone depleting HCFCs ( including R22 ) entirely.

How does it affect existing sustems?

From the end of 2014 you will no longer be able to source replacement refrigerant or repair and service your system if it uses R22 refrigerant. It is expected by all in the industry that as the legislation changes draw nearer the demand for conversion and replacement of existing systems will increase. As a result, order lead times will grow, prices are likely to increase and correctly qualified engineers will be heavily in demand – to the extent that they may not be available when required and you will run the risk of having to use inferior workmanship.

The easy way to avoid this is to seek consultation now to determine the best way for your company to tackle this challenge.

What are the options?

Currently there are two.

Option 1 - Conversion

Conversion of your existing system to enable it to operate using a legal and often more efficient refrigerant is often the most cost effective solution to the impending changes as it gives you the opportunity to increase the system capacity and can lead up to savings of 50% against replacing the system.

Option 2 – Replacement

Some existing systems may be unsuitable for conversion or may be in need of replacing due to approaching the end of their life cycle. Despite the higher installation costs, replacement can lead to greater system efficiencies, lower maintenance requirements and reduced operating costs.

Whichever the option you choose the way forward is to plan ahead and do the work now and where capital expenditure is needed but not possible, Ergro can introduce you to affordable leasing options.

Both solutions are, however heavily dependent on site installation conditions and age of the plant and a consultation is recommended to determine the state of the system.

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