Shipping should go “natural”
The Nordic Council of Ministers has recommended that the marine shipping industry convert its refrigeration systems to “natural” refrigerants.
A new report (Refrigeration units in marine vessels: Alternatives to HCFCs and high GWP HFCs) looks at refrigeration equipment on board marine vessels, focusing on the Nordic countries and the achievements made with systems applying “natural” refrigerants. It includes both cooling and freezing systems on fishing vessels as well as the numerous applications of comfort cooling and food preservation on passenger ships and cargo vessels.
The Nordic Council includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden as well as from the autonomous areas of the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and the Åland Islands.
International Maritime Organisation reports from 2014 estimated the total use of HCFC/HFC refrigerants in the world merchant fleet was 70% R22, 26% R134a and 4% R404A.
The report recognises the three refrigerant groups – saturated hydrofluorocarbons, unsaturated hydrofluorocarbons and natural working fluids – but recommends that the industry convert most of the refrigerants to natural working fluids, despite being aware of “less harmful” HFCs/HFOs.
The safety issues with some “naturals” can be solved with “proper technical safety strategies and available technology”, it says. “Ammonia is toxic, but has been successfully applied in refrigeration systems since 150 years,” and “risk of flammability of natural working fluids can be prevented by reduced charge systems and well-trained operators,” the report maintains.