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PFAS ban could impact “natural” refrigerants

BELGIUM: Refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump component manufacturers have added their voice to the need for certain “critical exemptions” from any future PFAS bans.

Members of ASERCOM, the European association of component manufacturers, have emphasised in its response to the PFAS ban proposals currently being considered by the European Chemical Association (ECHA), that the replacement of PFAS elements in systems could necessitate substantial component redesigns.

The PFAS ban proposals submitted to the ECHA in January by Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark, called for a ban on all PFAS substances under a definition that would include practically all HFC and HFO refrigerants, as well as the fluoropolymers used in a number of critical refrigeration components. These components include vital gaskets and other sealing systems, electrical and electronic components, and wear-resistant coatings. 

Significantly, ASERCOM has expressed concerns that the proposed PFAS bans would also impact the use of “natural” refrigerants.

“To progress with decarbonisation efforts within our industry, it is imperative to meticulously manage the entire PFAS dossier,” stated ASERCOM president Marco Masini. “Transitioning to “natural” refrigerants necessitates even more the use of fluoropolymers which are encompassed in this ban; hence, we are advocating for the introduction of exemptions for such materials.”

ASERCOM maintains that its members are collaboratively exploring alternative substances with their supply partners, but viable solutions achieving equal performance are not yet identified. 

The organisation’s manufacturers are said to be grappling with concerns over friction, lubrication and wear and extreme conditions, such as elevated refrigerant discharge temperatures for heat pumps with R290, or low temperature refrigeration applications with CO2 at very high pressures.

“This re-design would result in further testing needs of the compressors and other main components as well as of the final equipment,” said Dr Heinz Juergensen, ASERCOM’s PFAS team leader. “Employing alternative substances for different refrigerants would escalate the variety of components managed in production, wholesale, and installation sites. This could elevate the risks of failures and damages arising from improper selections.”

“We’ve requested exemptions in the PFAS ban proposal to maintain energy efficiency and leverage the unique properties of fluoropolymers, for instance, adhering to GWP limits due to F-gas regulations,” Dr Juergensen added.

Related stories:

PFAS consultation receives over 5,600 comments26 September 2023
FINLAND: The European proposals to restrict the use of PFAS chemicals have received more than 5,600 comments from more than 4,400 organisations, companies and individuals. Read more…

EPEE seeks PFAS exemption for F-gases25 September 2023
BELGIUM: The European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) has requested an exemption for F-gases and fluoropolymers in any forthcoming PFAS restrictions. Read more…

PFAS proposals are “disproportionate” – 2 September 2023
BELGIUM: An association representing 770,000 European technology companies has called the proposed “blanket restriction” of all PFAS, regardless of their toxicity and risk profile, disproportionate. Read more…

PFAS exemptions required for critical applications – 10 July 2023
GERMANY: A leading German research body has said that, without exemptions, any future PFAS regulation could jeopardise the safe and effective uninterrupted operation of refrigeration and heat pump systems. Read more…

PFAS ban would render systems unsafe – 25 May 2023
GERMANY: A leading European refrigeration research council claims that the safe, efficient and trouble-free operation of RACHP systems is not possible without the use of PFAS-containing materials. Read more…

PFAS ban affects most refrigerant blends – 12 February 2023
EUROPE: The banning of just five refrigerants under the new PFAS regulation proposals would lead to the banning of virtually all the current lower GWP HFC/HFO alternative refrigerant blends. Read more…

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