US confirms R134a chiller ban in 2024

A number of common refrigerants, including R134a, R410A and R407C, will be banned from use in new chillers in the USA from January 1, 2024.

The bans are one of a number of changes to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Significant New Alternatives Policy programme (SNAP) regulations, published today in the Federal Register. The gases affected are the higher GWP HFCs and the higher GWP blends, originally designed as interim retrofit gases.

The wide ranging changes also place future restrictions on the use of the higher GWP HFC gases in new domestic and commercial refrigeration equipment and ban the use of class 3 flammable refrigerants as retrofits.

The higher GWP refrigerants R134a, R410A and R407C are amongst a list of over 25 refrigerants deemed unacceptable for use in positive displacement and centrifugal chillers from January 1, 2024. but exemptions are made for R134a and R404A in certain military applications.

Carrier, Johnson Controls and the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) had all argued for a date no earlier than 2025.

The commonly-used high GWP refrigerants R404A and R507A are also included in a list of 24 refrigerants which will be deemed unacceptable for use in new retail food refrigeration (refrigerated food processing and dispensing equipment) from January 1, 2021. The same two refrigerants and 19 others are being listed as unacceptable in new cold storage warehouses from January 1, 2023.

The banning of R134a, along with 27 other refrigerants, in new domestic refrigerators and freezers from January 1, 2021, is expected to open the way for the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants. The flammable class 3 hydrocarbon refrigerant propane, was previously SNAP-listed for use in domestic refrigerators and freezers and, under the new rules, is also being listed as acceptable in new commercial ice machines, new water coolers, and new very low temperature refrigeration equipment.

The HFO refrigerant R1234yf, designed as a replacement for R134a in car air conditioning systems, is extended for use in newly manufactured medium-duty passenger vehicles, heavy-duty pickup trucks, and complete HD vans.

Further restrictions on class 3 flammable refrigerants include confirmation of a ban on their use as a retrofit refrigerants in residential and light commercial AC and heat pumps—unitary split.

AC systems and heat pumps. These include all the flammable hydrocarbons and hydrocarbon blends sold in the US as replacements for R22.

In addition, flammable propylene and the hydrocarbon blend R443A are listed as unacceptable for use in new residential and light commercial AC and heat pumps, cold storage warehouses, centrifugal chillers, and positive displacement chillers.

The full Federal Register announcement is here.