Industrial Refrigeration Systems
INDUSTRIAL REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS – Refrigerant Matters
The intention of this article is provide the reader with a general overview of issues relating to refrigerant for industrial refrigeration systems. If specific data is required such as thermodynamic properties, pressure/enthalpy diagrams or chemical safety data sheets, there are plenty of websites to choose from and we would recommend Agas.
What are refrigerants?
Refrigerants are the working fluids found within the closed circuit of vapour compression refrigeration or heat pump systems and is used for the purpose of heat transfer in industrial refrigeration systems. Refrigerants in common use are chemicals or chemical blends that are primarily used for their specific properties that allow them to change state from a liquid to vapour (evaporation) at temperatures which are conducive to their intended application and change state from a vapour to a liquid (condensation) at temperatures that permit heat transfer to a readily available medium (such as air) for the purpose of rejecting heat absorbed during the industrial refrigeration process.
EC Ozone Regulation
By now it cannot have escaped anybody’s notice that Chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants such as R11, R12 and R502 have been phased out in the interest of minimising any further damage to our planet’s ozone layer by chlorine, which formed part of these refrigerant’s chemical make-up. Indeed EC ozone regulation (EC/2037/2000) makes it unlawful to knowingly release these chemicals into the atmosphere and has banned their manufacture in the EU.
This regulation also covers other similar refrigerants used in industrial refrigeration systems having a less potent impact on the environment; most relevantly now in mid 2013 it also deals with Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants, the most common of which in industrial use is R22.
R22 has already ceased manufacture as a virgin product and can now only be used as a reclaimed or recycled refrigerant for service purposes until 31st December 2014. From the 1st January 2015 all remaining stocks in the EU must be consigned for destruction. Industrial Refrigeration systems still using R22 and functioning normally after the cut-off date can continue to be used but cannot be replenished to any extent.
To clear up one common misconception; “who is responsible under the law for implementing changes required as a result of this legislation”? The answer is: the owner of the industrial equipment containing the refrigerant.
There are still many thousands of kg of R22 out there in common use in industrial systems and with a little over a year to go, we strongly advise any refrigeration equipment owners who have not already taken appropriate measures to do so without delay.