The HCFC R22 has been the refrigerant of choice for domestic and industrial refrigeration for more than 40 years owing to its excellent thermodynamic properties, but it has been found that releases of R22, such as those from leaks, contribute to ozone depletion. R22 is also a greenhouse gas and its manufacture results in a by-product, called HFC23, which contributes significantly to global warming.
In terms of the Montreal Protocol, users in the European Union (EU) are preparing for a 2010 usage and sales ban on virgin product on these ozone depleting potential (ODP) gases and high global warming potential (GWP) gases, followed by a complete phase-out of HCFCs by 2015. South Africa is also a signatory to the Protocol and local companies who currently import refrigerants containing virgin HCFCs will face heavy restrictions from 2013.
“Businesses, particularly those who rely on refrigerants for their processes, must start planning now, or face escalating costs for retrofitting and recycling,” says Afrox special products and chemicals’ manager, Robert Carlton-Shields.
Arkema, a diversified chemicals manufacturer and a longstanding supplier of refrigerants to Afrox, is a global leader in the transition from HCFCs to new-generation low GWP Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and has invested millions of Euros into developing a range of replacement refrigerants under the Forane® brand.
Notably, Arkema’s Forane® 427A is a new 100% HFC blend offering a simplified retrofit solution for existing R22 installations across a broad spectrum of applications. It offers a similar performance to R22, with minor ozone depleting potential and is therefore being welcomed as a viable alternative for use in R22 equipment. It is non-toxic and non-flammable, meeting the highest A1/A1 requirement on both counts.
While being compatible with Polyolester (POE) lubricants, Forane® 427A is also unusually tolerant of high levels of residual AB or mineral oil, up to 10% or sometimes even 15% oil remaining after the changeover from R22. Optimal performance close to R22 can be achieved without a long and costly rinsing process of the circuit and no modification of the installation is required.
“Arkema currently offers the most comprehensive range of alternative solutions on the world market,” says Carlton-Shields. “We’ve enjoyed a relationship characterised by professionalism, innovation and reliability with Arkema for decades and we believe the R22 alternatives they have engineered will provide the best solution for our South African refrigerant clients.”
Afrox’s James Allan, Product Manager Refrigerants, says once the phasing out of HCFCs begins on 1 January 2013, followed by the complete ban on virgin product which comes into force on 1 January 2031, virgin HCFCs will no longer be permitted to be used to top up refrigeration systems. In addition, users will have to safely recover any HCFCs currently in the system when substituting it with an approved alternative.
“With the decline in virgin HCFCs being imported, South African users will need to look more closely at retrofitting machines or maintaining them with reclaimed product that has been cleaned to ARI700 specification,” said Allan. “It will be acceptable to use recovered and recycled HCFCs like R22 until 2039, while users make the transition to alternative gases.
“Afrox has geared up to offer a service to purify reclaimed refrigerants by collecting used refrigerant from our clients, supplying them with clean stock and then processing the used refrigerant through our proprietary refrigerant recovery and reclamation system, the ZugiBeast®.”
The ZugiBeast® is a portable device that recovers and cleans refrigerant, removing the water, oils, acids, sludge and particulates which build up in refrigeration systems over time.
“This value added service outperforms any other known equipment in South Africa by a considerable margin,” says Allan. “With this system we're able to treat all major refrigerants and contaminants. There is an additional benefit of improved productivity and power savings for our customers, since their machines work better on decontaminated refrigerant and cleaner heat transfer surfaces.”