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R134a faces chiller ban from 2025

A number of chiller manufacturers, including Climaveneta with its TECS2 range shown here, have already adopted lower GWP refrigerant R1234ze

USA: HFC refrigerants R134a, R410A, and R407C could be banned from use in US chillers from 2025 under new industry proposals.

US Environmental group the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) are said to have agreed on a schedule for eliminating the use of the refrigerants in new chillers of all types and sizes.

The NRDC/AHRI agreement was delivered on Monday to the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is preparing regulations under the Clean Air Act’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) programme with deadlines for ending use of HFCs in applications where safer alternatives are available. EPA issued a first-round SNAP rule in July 2015. The second SNAP rule will cover more categories of equipment, including chillers, and will be proposed and finalised this year.

The NRDC says it petitioned EPA last year to complete the phase-out of R134a, R410A, and R407C in new chillers by 2023. The manufacturers favoured longer timelines, ending as late as 2030 for some types of equipment.

The agreement makes it more likely that more manufacturers will move to the low GWP HFO refrigerants R1234ze and R1233zd. A number of leading international chiller manufacturers including Carrier, Climaveneta, Airedale, Blue Box and Cofely have already announced R1234ze chillers and Trane and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have machines using R1233zd.

“The agreement also helps ensure that EPA will ban all three high-potency refrigerants in all classes of chiller equipment,” the NRDC said in a statement. “Chillers range widely in size, refrigerant, and technology, and industry’s willingness to redesign even their most complex chillers within eight years is a strong indicator of their support for our shared climate goals.”

In a statement the AHRI said: “The two groups took this action following lengthy discussions on the importance of moving beyond high-global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants used in chillers and consideration of factors such as the safety of alternatives, the continued improvement of system efficiency, reasonable product development timelines, and the avoidance of market migration. The effective date was negotiated with those factors in mind.”

“This is another example of industry and efficiency advocates working together toward environmental progress, while allowing sufficient time and predictability for manufacturers,” said AHRI president and CEO Stephen Yurek. “We are grateful to the members of AHRI’s liquid chillers product section, who worked diligently to reach this agreement,” Yurek added.

The EPA is expected to decide in the coming months whether or not to accede to this consensus recommendation.

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