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IEC reverses vote on flammable charge limit

The path to higher charge limits for flammable refrigerants looks to be open again, after the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) revised last month’s surprise no vote.

At this stage it is not clear why or how the vote was reversed, although as the original count only failed by 0.7 per cent, it’s possible that a single revised country vote would see the draft accepted.

The news was broken by Shecco’s Jan Dusek at the ATMOsphere conference held in Melbourne this week, with confirmation from the IEC expected shortly.

“This is going to have a big impact on our industry,” Dusek said. The attendees – made up mainly of refrigeration contractors, end-users and industry groups – seemed to agree. When asked whether the news would affect them, nearly all raised their hands.

The new draft standard would lift the maximum allowable charge of flammable refrigerants such as hydrocarbons from 150g to around 500g in certain types of appliances.

It will have major implications in light commercial refrigeration, specifically in the supermarket sector, where there will be much greater scope for hydrocarbon-based refrigerated display cabinets and water-loop systems. Indeed, given that the draft standard had been expected to pass at the original vote, a number of companies appeared to have developed plans for exploiting the new rules already.

With the standard passed, the way will once again be open for new technology, and greater use of hydrocarbons.

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