US EPAUSA: The US EPA is proposing to expand the permissible uses of propane to commercial refrigeration in a number of changes being made to the agency’s SNAP programme.

Propane (R290) was one of a number of flammable refrigerants added to the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) programme last year for specific end uses. It is now proposed that propane’s accepted use in new domestic refrigerators and freezers up to a charge size of 57g should be expanded to include new commercial ice machines, water coolers, and very low temperature refrigeration equipment.

The EPA is also proposing to exempt propane in these end-uses from the venting prohibition under the US Clean Air Act.

At the same time the new proposals seek to ban a broad range of similarly flammable refrigerants from retrofit use in residential and light commercial air conditioning and heat pump applications. It is also proposing further future end-use restrictions on a range of medium/high GWP refrigerants including R404A, R407C, R134a and R410A and a number of “drop-in” replacements in certain chiller and retail food refrigeration applications.

The proposals are seen as another step forward in efforts to reduce HFC emissions under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

“This new proposal would reduce the use and emissions of some of the most harmful HFCs, which are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide, and approves safer, more climate-friendly alternatives to protect public health and our environment,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy. “In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, this action will not only result in significant reductions of harmful greenhouse gases, but it expands the options for safer alternatives available on the market.”

EPA is both proposing to expand the agency’s SNAP list of climate-friendly alternatives and, now that safer options are available, proposing to change the status of certain higher-global warming potential (GWP) substances that were previously listed as acceptable. In developing this proposal, the agency received input from industry, environmental groups and others through workshops and meetings over the past year

Already accepted for use in light duty passenger vehicles, R1234yf is also proposed to be made acceptable for use in newly manufactured medium-duty passenger vehicles (MDPVs), heavy-duty (HD) pickup trucks, and complete HD vans.

Unacceptable

It is proposed that all refrigerants identified as, or meeting the criteria of, flammability Class 3 in ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 34–2013 will become unacceptable as alternatives by end-use for retrofit residential and light commercial AC and heat pumps—unitary split AC systems and heat pumps. These will include  many of the refrigerant products currently sold in the US under names including R22a, 22a, Blue Sky 22a, Coolant Express 22a, Duracool-22a, EC-22, Ecofreeeze EF-22a, EF-22a, Envirosafe 22a, ES-22a, Frost 22a, HC-22a, Maxi-Fridge, MX-22a, Oz-Chill 22a, Priority Cool, and RED TEK 22a.

Other flammable refrigerants propylene (R1270) and R443A (aka HCR 188C2) are proposed to be listed as unacceptable for new residential and light commercial AC and heat pumps, cold storage warehouses, centrifugal chillers, and positive displacement chillers.

The new proposals also promote further future end-use restrictions on the use of a broad range of high GWP refrigerants including R404A, R407C, R134a and R410A and a number of so-called “drop-in” replacements in certain chiller and retail food refrigeration applications from as early as 2021.

The full proposed ruling can be found here.

The EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. If a hearing is requested, further information will be provided at https://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap.

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