Chinese refrigerant prices surge

Chinese refrigerant prices surge

A surge in refrigerant prices in China in the final months of 2017 look set to increase pressure on HFC refrigerant prices worldwide.

Any reassurances from price decreases mid-year, after increases of up to 150% on certain refrigerants at the beginning of 2017, were shattered by further leaps in price in the final quarter.

The increases are, again, mainly due to demand-increases/supply-shortages in vital refrigerant production components, but stricter Chinese environmental protection measures and increased transportation costs are also said to have had an effect.

According to the Chinese news website Sina, the price of the mineral fluorspar (fluorite) – a vital ingredient in HFC production – reached a six-year high this year with increases of nearly 80%.

The current Chinese price is reported to be RMB2555/ton ($393), up from RMB1433.75/ton ($220) at the beginning of the year. China is the source of more than half of the world’s production of fluorspar.

This has had a knock-on effect on the price of fluorspar derivative hydrofluoric acid, which, in addition to HFC refrigerant production, is also in high demand in the pharmaceutical industry as well as for producing products like Teflon. This lead to the market price of hydrofluoric acid also reaching a six-year high in 2017, with increases of nearly 95%.

As a result, Chinese refrigerant prices have seen hefty increases this year. The price of R32 rose around 120%, while R125 experienced increases of over 85%. This has had a particular impact on the air conditioning sector, where both are used extensively. Main ac refrigerant R410A, which consists of a 50/50 blend of R32 and R125, saw prices rise over 100% this year. Even single component refrigerant R134a experienced increase of around 35%.