BELGIUM: The European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) has requested an exemption for F-gases and fluoropolymers in any forthcoming PFAS restrictions.
The plea to the European Chemicals Agency was in response to a proposal by five EU member states – Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark – to change the definition of PFAS substances, a move which would ban practically all HFC and HFO refrigerants.
EPEE, which represents the refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump manufacturing industry in Europe, was responding to the European Chemicals Agency’s stakeholder consultation on the proposals which closed today.
“We requested these time-unlimited derogations to avoid a significant loss of efficiency for key products in heating and cooling,” said EPEE director general Russell Patten. “Further restrictions on the use of F-gases and fluoropolymers would drastically slow the deployment of heat pumps, on which the EU depends to reach independence from Russian fossil fuels and to meet the climate target by 2030.”
EPEE stated in its reply that a broad ranging PFAS ban would hinder the ongoing and future research and development of even safer and more energy-efficient devices. It maintained that F-gas refrigerants were essential to the optimal performance of equipment and products that contribute to the decarbonisation of the energy system and buildings, and provide efficient heating and cooling solutions for domestic, industrial, commercial, and medicinal applications, as well as many others.
A PFAS ban through the European REACH regulations under the proposed new definition would also curtail the production and use of fluoropolymers which are used in a number of critical refrigeration components, including vital gaskets and other sealing systems, electrical and electronic components, and wear-resistant coatings.
EPEE points out that there are currently no viable alternatives to fluoropolymers that could fulfil the same criteria with the same level of efficiency and safety. It insists that fluoropolymers stand up to the unique and harsh operating conditions of RACHP equipment, and are used for their sealing capacity, resistance to pressure and temperature, persistence, electrical properties and low friction.
In its response, EPEE said: “Fluoropolymers offer the safest way to transport refrigerants and avoid leakages of toxic and flammable gases. A ban on their use would mean returning to less efficient, less safe, older alternatives, and would impact many European industries beyond the RACHP sector itself.”
EPEE also raised concerns about the risk of equipment obsolescence, as many types of RACHP equipment can be used from 12 to up to 30 years in certain applications. As such the restriction proposal could impact end-of-life practices, recycling and reclamation of gases, exports from Europe, maintenance and refilling of existing equipment.
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