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HCFC phase out overviewSeptember 2009

Members of the EU working with the agreement of the Montreal Protocol to protect the ozone layer banned the use of HCFC including the use of equipment requiring these refrigerants. Up until the end of 2009 it will still be legal to use it to service air conditioning equipment. However, it was decided that from the 1st January 2010 virgin HCFC used for RAC will be illegal, even if it was obtained before the ban date.

Current users of HCFC systems will have to develop a plan to manage operations without it by December 2009, although use of recycled / reclaimed HCFC can still be used until 1st January 2015.

  •  Recycled HCFC is subject to a basic cleaning process
    • recovered by owner
    • not placed on the market
  • Reclaimed HCFC that has been chemically reprocessed to a specified standard
    • clearly labelled
    • available for the wider market

In order to minimise the disturbance to operations, it is essential for plant owners to draw up a phase out plan. There are 3 options: 

  1. Replacing the system
  2. Converting the system to use a retrofill or drop in HCFC
  3. Leaving it as is, but only if a guarantee stock of recycled HCFC is assured or if it represents no business critical risk.

The phase out plan should: 

  1. Assess the risk associated with the phase out for each system
  2. Prioritise which systems should be addressed first, e.g. most critical systems, worst condition
  3. Determine a phase out solution by choosing the option to replace, convert or leave a system to run to fail
  4. Plan and secure the budget, this will depend on the size of the plant
  5. Manage the use of recycled and reclaimed HCFC bearing in mind the definition given above
  6. Implement the changes in a planned manner.

The criteria to determine which solution to apply can be based on the following factors: 

  • the system type, a DX type system is more suitable for conversion than a flooded system etc.
  • the age of the system, it would be more efficient to choose the replacement option for systems older than 20 years
  • the condition of the system, well maintained systems would be more suitable for a conversion rather than replacement
  • meeting the current requirements, certain systems may not satisfy future cooling loads therefore replacement would be more efficient
  • energy efficiency, replacing an older version with a newer more efficient system is often more feasible than converting a system
  • availability and permitted use of recycled HCFC, consider that the availability of HCFC might be scarce after 2010, and costs will rise.

Remember there are already regulations that require you to:

  • minimise leaks
  • carry out regular leak checks
  • keep records of leak testing and gas
  • services carried out by qualified personnel only


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