BITZER: Refrigerant report 19
Stratospheric ozone depletion as well as atmospheric greenhouse effect due to refrigerant emissions have led to drastic changes in the refrigeration and air conditioning technology since the beginning of the 1990s.
This is especially true for the area of commercial refrigeration and A/C plants with their wide range of applications. In former years the main refrigerants used for these systems were ozone depleting types, namely R12, R22 and R502; for special applications R114, R12B1, R13B1, R13 and R503 were used.
With the exception of R22 the use of these chemicals is not allowed any more in industrialised countries. In the European Union, however, an early phase-out was already enforced in several steps. The main reason for this early ban of R22 contrary to the international agreement is the ozone depletion potential although it is only small.
Since 2010, phase-out regulations got effective in other countries as well, in the USA for instance.
Due to this situation enormous consequences result for the whole refrigeration and air conditioning sector. BITZER therefore committed itself to taking a leading role in the research and development of environ-mentally benign system designs.
After the chlorine-free (ODP = 0) HFC refrigerants R134a, R404A, R407C, R507A and R410A have become widely established for many years in commercial refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump systems, mean-while new challenges have come up. They concern primarily the greenhouse effect. The aim is a clear reduction of direct emissions caused by refrigerant losses and indirect emissions by particularly efficient system technology.
In this area, applicable legal regulations are already in force, such as the EU Regulation on F-Gases No. 517/2014 (BITZER brochureA-510) and a series of regulations already ratified or in preparation as part of the EU Ecodesign Directive (BITZER brochure A-530).
Similar regulations are also in preparation or have already been implemented in North America (SNAP Program) and other regions.
Even though indirect emissions caused by energy production are considerably higher than direct (CO2-equivalent) emissions caused by HFC refrigerants, refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP) will in future be subject to use restrictions or bans. This will affect primarily R404A and R507A, for which alternatives with lower GWP are already being offered. However, in order to achieve the legal objectives, substitutes for further refrigerants and increased use of naturally occurring substances (NH3, CO2, hydrocarbons) will become necessary.
This requires comprehensive testing of these refrigerants, suitable oils and accordingly adjusted systems.
Therefore a close co-operation exists with scientific institutions, the refrigeration and oil industries, component manufacturers as well as a number of innovative refrigeration and air conditioning companies.
A large number of development tasks have been completed. For alternative refrigerants suitable compressors are available.
Besides the development projects BITZER actively supports legal regulations and self commitments concerning the responsible use of refrigerants as well as measures to increase system and components’ efficiency.
The following report deals with potential measures of a short to medium-term change towards technologies with reduced environ-mental impact in medium and large size commercial refrigeration and air-conditioning systems. Furthermore, the experience which exists is also dealt with and the resulting consequences for plant technology.