ARBUSA: California could ban refrigerants with a GWP greater than 150 in all new non-residential refrigeration systems by 2020.

In new proposals put forward by the State’s Air Resources Board (ARB), California has also proposed adding residential refrigerators to the banning order by 2021, along with all new air conditioners using a GWP greater than 750.

California says certain exceptions could be made to any maximum GWP limit if a low-GWP refrigerant is not technically feasible in a specific application and GWP limits may be subject to change as additional refrigerants become available.

California has a a reputation for introducing environment laws ahead of Federal legislation and was first to introduce HFC restrictions as long ago as 2006. 

While an international HFC phase-down agreement could be reached this year, California says it will consider additional measures to achieve further GHG emission reductions in order to support the State’s 2020 and 2030 GHG targets.

Specifically, ARB says it will consider developing bans on the use of high-GWP refrigerants in sectors and applications where lower-GWP alternates are feasible and readily available.

It also warns that if a sufficiently rigorous international agreement is not reached this year, ARB will evaluate the feasibility of a phase down for California similar to those in Australia, Canada, the EU, and Japan.

Last year, the California ARB said it was considering offering financial incentives for those moving to new, low-GWP commercial refrigeration systems.

This suggestion is repeated in the latest proposals which claim that this could be used to counter the current trend of replacing R22 with higher-GWP HFCs.

Call for appliance code updates

Citing the experience in Europe and elsewhere, ARB is calling for an update to current US fire and appliance codes which do not allow the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants with a charge size of more than 150g in commercial refrigerators, and 57g in domestic refrigerators.

“Experience in Europe and other jurisdictions demonstrates that these codes can be designed to allow for the use of these refrigerants while ensuring safety, where current limits are 150g for household refrigerators and up to 1.5kg for commercial uses,” says ARB in its proposal document.

“More work is required to update the safety codes in the US before slightly flammable refrigerants can be used in more applications while maintaining safety,” it adds.

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