Regulation of refrigerant gases, refrigerant fluids, freons
Since the end of the 1980s, the preservation of the environment and the reduction of greenhouse gases have become real concerns for the planet. The Montreal and Kyoto Protocols, ratified by the European Union and translated into regulations for refrigerant gases, have led to the supervision of the use of refrigerant fluids. In the vast majority of cases, compliance with these regulations is facilitated by the use of refrigerant gas detection systems as well as by periodic checks.
The F-Gas regulation
The F-Gas regulation (for fluorinated gases) in effect in the European Union aims to reduce the Union's environmental impact by reducing emissions of fluorinated gases (CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs & HFOs) with a high GWP (Global Warming Potential) into the atmosphere. It applies to all fluorinated gases and reflects a real commitment by refrigeration professionals and public authorities in the fight against greenhouse gases and destroyers of the ozone layer.
Hydrofluorocarbons are fluorinated gases, composed of carbon, fluorine and hydrogen atoms. They are among the six main greenhouse gases listed in the Kyoto Protocol and contribute to global warming. They are subject to the Freon F-GAS regulation, which aims at their reduction.
The F-Gas regulation includes a ban on certain refrigerants (such as R22), gases with a GWP of more than 2500 and gases with a charge of more than 40 Teq CO2 (ton equivalent carbon). These restrictions also include a ban on recharging old installations with banned gases. It also regulates the use of refrigerant fluids by imposing a regular control of the installations and the implementation of a monitoring system with the installation of refrigerant fluids leak detectors.
Kyoto Protocol & greenhouse gases
Adopted on December 11, 1997 by 38 industrialized countries - including France - and entered into force on February 16, 2005, when at least 55 countries (representing 55% of CO2 emissions) had ratified it, the Kyoto Protocol (Japan) is a commitment to reduce emissions of 6 greenhouse gases: CO2 (carbon dioxide), CH4 (methane), N2O (nitric oxide), HFC (hydrofluorocarbon), PFC (perfluorocarbons) and SF6 (sulfur hexafluoride).
GWP: Global Warming Potential
All HFC fluids (hydrofluorocarbons refrigerants) have been classified by a Global Warming Potential (GWP). It is in fact an indication of the harmfulness of a gas in relation to the greenhouse effect and this in a determined time. The reference fluid is CO2 whose GWP is equal to 1. Below, a summary table of the main HFCs with their GWP for a period of 100 years:
Refrigerant gas detectors and tightness control
The current regulation on fluorinated gases has been in force since January 1, 2015 and aims to progressively reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), used in particular in refrigeration systems such as heat pumps, air conditioners (air conditioning), refrigerators and freezers (domestic or commercial), evaporators, etc. The goal is a 79% reduction by 2030, 3 important points stand out:
All operators must ensure that their equipment containing a quantity of refrigerant equal to or higher than 5 tons of CO2 equivalent is checked by a certified person every 12 to 24 months. For a quantity equal to or higher than 50 tons and lower than 500, this verification must be done every 6 to 12 months. Above 500 tons of CO2 equivalent, the verification must be done every 3 to 6 months.
Refrigerant fluids leak detection
For all refrigeration equipment, heat pumps or fire protection systems with more than 500 tons of CO2 equivalent, it is mandatory to install a leak detection system with an alarm, checked every 12 months. A refrigerant fluids leak detection system is a simple way to meet these requirements, providing continuous monitoring of the refrigeration system.
For homes, offices, housing and establishments receiving the public and using an air conditioning network, the installation of an air conditioning gas detector for inhabited spaces is recommended.
Reduction of the availability on the market
In addition, installations containing HFCs will experience a progressive restriction on the market. Since 2015, domestic refrigerators and freezers containing an HFC with a GWP higher or equal to 15 are restricted. This restriction is expected to expand over time to commercial installations with a GWP of 150 or more.