AIRAH backs further action on high-GWP refrigerants

AIRAH has backed a federal government proposal to ban the import and manufacture of small air conditioners with high-GWP refrigerants – and called for similar actions in other classes of equipment.

The ban on small air conditioners with high-GWP refrigerants would complete the transition – already well under way – from R410A to R32 and other low GWP-refrigerants such as propane. AIRAH has proposed that similar arrangements could be made for refrigeration equipment that uses R404A.

“We applaud the recent proposal to limit the import and manufacture of small air conditioning units that use high-GWP refrigerant,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH. “This kind of measure can significantly strengthen the HFC phase-down. Another area of concern raised by our members is the stubborn presence of refrigerant R404A.”

R404A was introduced in the mid-1990s as a replacement for ozone-depleting refrigerants such as R12 and R502, and later as a replacement for R22. It is used in low- and medium-temperature refrigeration applications, such as commercial refrigeration, supermarket display cases, cold rooms, transport refrigeration and process cooling.

According to the Cold Hard Facts series of reports, despite its tag as an “outgoing” refrigerant and its global warming potential of 3,922, R404A still represents at least 20 per cent of all refrigerant used in the economy, based on metric tonnes. Based on GWP, it represents more than 35 per cent.

“Alternatives are available, but R404A is still the cheapest-first-cost low-temperature refrigerant on the market,” says Gleeson. “For this reason, our members believe that additional measures are warranted.

“AIRAH is aware that the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 included provisions for future bans on the import of new equipment containing high-GWP HFCs, in cases where targeted action is required,” says AIRAH CEO Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH.

“We believe a proposal could be developed around low- and medium-temperature refrigeration equipment, such as that which uses R404A.”

AIRAH is communicating with government, and has offered to provide further data to validate the proposal.

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