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Proposed US Ban on HFC's in Chillers

Posted February 10, 2016 8:00 AM by geanorm
Pathfinder Tags: chillers gwp HFO refrigerants

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) agreed last week on a schedule for eliminating the use of HFCs R-134a, R-410A and R-407C in chillers of all types by the year 2025.

In a joint letter to the US EPA the two parties call for the removal of R-134a, R-410A, and R407C from the list of acceptable substitutes in all new air-cooled and water-cooled chillers using centrifugal, screw, scroll, and all other compressor types as of Jan. 1, 2025.

As part of the Clean Air Act's Significant New Alternatives Program (SNAP) the US EPA is developing regulations to end the use HFCs in applications where safer alternatives are available.

The US EPA issued a first-round SNAP rule (in July 2015) which targeted some of the largest and leakiest HFC applications, including motor vehicle air conditioners, supermarket systems, aerosol propellants, and foam insulation. HFC-134a is to be banned in new motor vehicles starting in 2020 (model year 2021) and replaced by HFO-1234yf. In supermarket systems--which leak faster than any other refrigeration application--R-404A, R-507A and other harmful HFC blends will be banned in new systems between 2016 and 2020, depending on the specific application.

The latest agreement makes it more likely that manufacturers will move to refrigerants with near-zero heat-trapping potency and the highest energy efficiency, such as R-1234ze and R-1233zd, rather than adopting middle-range potency refrigerants such as R-513A and R-450A. A number of leading international chiller manufacturers including Carrier, Climaveneta, Airedale, Blue Box and Cofely have already announced R1234ze chillers and Trane and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries have machines using R1233zd.

The presentations delivered at the recent sell-out AHRI-hosted conference on the Low GWP Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program (AREP) are now available online.

More than 170 leading refrigerant researchers, refrigerant producers, and manufacturers attended the conference, which was held in January, prior to the ASHRAE Winter Conference in Orlando.

For more information:

R134a faces chiller ban from 2025
It's a SNAP: EPA Cuts HFC Super-Pollutants to Curb Dangerous Climate Change
Pressure on High GWP Refrigerants
US Ruling Gives Supermarkets a Year to Switch from High-GWP Refrigerants
MHI Chooses HFO-1233zd(E) for New Centrifugal Chillers

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank GEA Consulting's President, Larry Butz,, for contributing this blog entry, originally appearing at


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Re: Proposed US Ban on HFC's in Chillers

02/10/2016 10:49 PM

You mean I have to start stockpiling my 134a so I can keep my cars running? Ugh. We've gone from ozone holes to AGW.


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Re: Proposed US Ban on HFC's in Chillers

02/11/2016 1:44 AM

"2,3,3,3-Tetrafluoropropene, or HFO-1234yf, is a hydrofluoroolefin with the formula CH2=CFCF3. It has been proposed as a replacement for R-134a as a refrigerant in automobile air conditioners.

HFO-1234yf is the first in a new class of refrigerants acquiring a global warming potential (GWP) rating one 335th that of R-134a (and only 4 times higher than carbon dioxide, which can also be used as a refrigerant but which has properties significantly different from those of R134A, especially requiring operation at around 5 times higher pressure) and an atmospheric lifetime of about 400 times shorter. It was developed to meet the European directive 2006/40/EC that went into effect in 2011 requiring that all new car platforms for sale in Europe use a refrigerant in its AC system with a GWP below 150.[1]

HFO-1234yf, which has a 100-year GWP of 4,[2] could be used as a "near drop-in replacement" for R-134a,[3] the current product used in automobile AC systems, which has a 100-year GWP of 1430. This means that automakers would not have to make significant modifications in assembly lines or in vehicle system designs to accommodate the product. HFO-1234yf has the lowest switching cost for automakers among the currently proposed alternatives, although the initial cost of the product is much higher than that of R-134a. The product could be handled in repair shops in the same way as R-134a, although it would require different, specialized equipment to perform the service. One of the reasons for that is the mild flammability of HFO-1234yf. Another issue affecting the compatibility between HFO-1234yf and R-134a-based systems is the choice of lubricating oil. The current lubricating oil is showing signs of damage to plastic and aluminium, and issues with health, including mouth dryness, rashes, and sore throat, among other effects.[4]"...

..."In December 2012, it was reported that tests by Mercedes-Benz showed that the substance ignited when researchers sprayed it and A/C compressor oil onto a car's hot engine. Stefan Geyer, a senior Daimler engineer who ran the tests, stated "We were frozen in shock, I am not going to deny it. We needed a day to comprehend what we had just seen." Combustion occurred in more than two thirds of simulated head-on collisions. The engineers also noticed etching on the windshield caused by the corrosive gases. BMW, and VW-Audi agreed with Mercedes and left the SAE R-1234yf CRP Team, stating that the performed tests are not sufficient to fully judge the safety of their vehicles. The German Automakers have been leaning towards carbon dioxide refrigerant which is safer for both passengers and the environment.[11][12][13]"...,3,3,3-Tetrafluoropropene

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Re: Proposed US Ban on HFC's in Chillers

02/11/2016 9:32 AM

But if the government mandates it, how do we get around it?

I'm reminded of the 'Ethanol mandates,' which gave minimums for Ethanol blended into consumer gasoline, not by percentages, but by 'gallons of ethanol,' regardless of changes in gas consumption. Which meant that if gas usage was lower than predicted, (which was happening when the price passed $4/gal) then the gas that was sold needed even MORE Ethanol in it to meet the national Ethanol usage quota. All while Ethanol raises the octane rating of the gas, bonds with water more readily than gas, has worse energy density than gas (dropping your MPG), and can degrade some of the rubber tubing used within the fuel system.

Before we switch one chemical for another for 'environmental reasons,' we need to make sure the new compound is actually BETTER for the environment AND consumer safety before making the switch.

( The opinions espressed in this post may not reflect the true opinions of the poster, and may not reflect commonly accepted versions of reality. ) (If you are wondering: yes, I DO hope to live to be as old as my jokes.)
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