Speaking at the first global symposium for the entire supply chain on refrigerant training & education hosted by the AHRI alongside last week’s AHR Expo in New York, AREA president Graeme Fox (right) emphasised the association’s concerns that a move away from high GWP HFCs will inevitably bring contractors into contact with flammable and/or toxic refrigerants – many for the first time.
Against the background of measures to decrease the use of HFCs under the F-gas regulation revisions, Graeme Fox said “If the use of HFCs is legislatively decreased and consequently the use of natural refrigerants is pushed, there will be a gap between training offered and training needs resulting in a shortage of suitably trained contractors.
“Such measures will, in turn, result in an increased use of alternatives, namely low GWP refrigerants, and, in particular, the so-called “natural refrigerants” CO2, hydrocarbons and ammonia.”
Under the F-gas revision it is proposed that by 2017, ‘the Commission shall publish a report examining EU legislation with respect to the training of natural persons for the safe handling of alternative refrigerants….and shall submit, if appropriate, a legislative proposal to the European Parliament and to the Council to amend relevant EU legislation.’
A recent survey by AREA into contractors’ use of “natural” refrigerants across Europe revealed that, on average, only 6% were trained in the use of CO2, 11% in hydrocarbons and just 12% in ammonia. Of the countries surveyed, the best performing were Poland, the Netherlands and Denmark.
As a starting point, AREA recommends that the F-Gas certification of personnel should include modules for natural refrigerants
“It is not AREA’s intention to create a new certification scheme,” Graeme Fox explained, “Only to add specific modules to the existing HFCs certification scheme based on Regulation 303/2008. While HFC certification will be the basis for every contractor who wants to handle every refrigerant, each added module will focus on the specificities of the respective low GWP refrigerants.”