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R22 alternatives

Market Harborough, UK: Many companies in cold refrigeration transport and storage are ill prepared for the change in refrigerants following EU legislation changes, says Phil Holzer, managing director, Atmosphere Cooling.

“While new environmental legislation can seem inconvenient and expensive to address in the short term, it cannot be ignored. In the case of R22, cost out the options before taking action and there may be significant long-term benefits,” he says.

EC regulations have banned the use of ‘virgin’ R22 with the use of ‘recycled’ R22 forbidden from 1 January 2015. Operators have two choices: convert systems for use with a replacement refrigerant or replace the existing system with one compatible with approved refrigerants.

Phil Holzer, managing director, Atmosphere Cooling,an independent refrigeration and air conditioning contractor

The benefits of conversion are longer service life of the refrigeration system and lower capital outlay compared with replacement, Holzer says. And where there are multiple systems there is the option for phased replacement, decanting and cleaning the R22 for top-up until 2015.

The disadvantages of conversion are that none of the replacements offer an exact match to the thermal properties of R22 and may result in reduced capacity or efficiency. In some cases the conversion cost of an old system may not be viable, he says.

Replacing existing systems that can use approved refrigerants offers the following benefits:
• reduction in energy consumption
• equipment may be on the Energy Technology Product List (ETPL) enabling companies to claim 100% first-year capital allowances on spending. This may also cover some installation and equipment costs
• increased service life
• reduced maintenance costs
• reduced breakdowns.
• the option (where there are multiple systems with R22), for phased replacement, decanting and cleaning for future top-ups until 2015.

The downside of replacing existing systems is initial increased capital outlay but that may be mitigated by the benefits.
“Ask your refrigeration contractor for conversion and replacement costs, taking into account service life as well as the running costs/pay-back periods if applicable,”  Holzer says .

In addition, F-gas regulations require:
• the end user to have refrigerant systems regularly inspected for leaks
• refrigeration contractors to be registered with an appropriate body
• refrigeration engineers to have renewed training and refrigerant handling qualifications.