AREA produces flammables safety guide

AREA-flammable-guideBELGIUM: The European contractors’ body AREA has produced a guide to safety procedures and the equipment needed to handle flammable refrigerants.

With Europe already in the grip of an HFC phase down, and with the rest of the world likely to follow suit, flammable refrigerants are set to play an increasing role in the future.

The chemistry behind the new synthetic refrigerants means that any of the lower GWP refrigerants are going to be flammable to some degree. Already we are seeing the introduction of air conditioners using R32 and stationary systems and mobile systems using the HFO R1234yf. Both are “mildly flammable” A2L refrigerants and, although difficult to ignite, do require special knowledge and treatment. This includes special service tools, specifically designed for flammable refrigerants

“This summer we will see a wide use of low flammable refrigerants, even more will follow due to the EU phase down of HFCs and the likely global agreement,” commented AREA vice-president Marco Buoni. “So due to AREA’s role as the European and international association for the air conditioning and refrigeration service engineer, we have decided to give advice on the use of the equipment to safely handle those new refrigerants.”

This new guide gives service technicians a tool to understand the equipment that should be used to service refrigeration plants containing flammable low GWP A2L refrigerants as well as the A3 higher flammability hydrocarbon refrigerants.

This latest document is free to download here. 

It follows on from, and complements, the earlier AREA guide for the competence of the personnel: Guidance on minimum requirements for contractors’ training & certification.

For those experiencing temporary difficulties connecting to the AREA website, a copy of the flammables guide can be downloaded here.


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Comments
One Response to “AREA produces flammables safety guide”
  1. I have read the article published by AREA.
    The document states it is a useful tool for working with Hydrocarbon, cat A3 and cat A2L refrigerants.
    The document does highlight some of the issues, but it also shows bad practise, which may be repeated in the flield.
    It shows pictures of “recovery machines” which states they are compliant, page 5.
    These machines are not compliant in all circumstances and are only suited to domestic use with low refrigerant charges. In particular the Caresaver unit has internal electrical components rated IP00 and on off switches where the voltage used is significantly high to cause a spark. On page 4 it states these switches on vacuum pumps are a source of ignition, perhaps they are not aware of this problem on these units.
    Page 4 does not show the cylinder or the refrigeration system to be cross bonded for equipotential.
    Page 6, a vacuum pump (whether approved for A2L, A3 or not, should have the exhaust vented to outside.

    The document is weighted to very small commercial systems, it is scant on health and safety.
    The procedure for hydrocarbon recovery does not adequately remove the HC from the system, it should be re-evacuated after N2 has been introduced, it does not mention cross bonding. It does not mention a specific risk assessment, which should be carried out before any work is undertaken.

    The document should only be considered only as a tool to understand the issues.

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