Refrigerant: In these uncertain times, one thing’s for sure: over the next few years, some refrigerants won’t be cool at all. In fact, there are going to be some radical changes with regards to the refrigerants that will be permitted for use in vending machines and chillers. So, listen up! You’d better get ready, (writes Gary Barlow, MD, DGB Refrigeration Ltd).
From January 1st 2020 the use of R404a in new chillers will be prohibited – this will not have a great impact on vending because R134a is the predominant refrigerant. So far so good: but from the 1st of January 2024, R134a will also cease to be used in the manufacture of new chillers. Using R134a in service repairs and refurbishment will, you can bet your bottom dollar, be phased out over time but as yet, no date has been set.
All of which should come as no great surprise, because they’re both man-made Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which means they belong to the dreaded category Greenhouse gases (GHGs); the bad boys that contribute directly to global warming.
And now, to illustrate what that means, the science bit: the emissions of every 1kg of Carbon Dioxide equals a GWP (global warming potential) of 1 per kg, whereas the emissions of 1kg of R134a has a GWP of 1300 per kg, and remains in the atmosphere for about 14 years.
So, as you can see getting repairs done by companies who understand what that means, which have a good reputation and competent engineers, is of the utmost importance.
Chiller units are prone to gas leaks, especially in the evaporator or condenser coil, which can be difficult to detect and repair on site. However, DGB Refrigeration carries stock of brand-new replacement evaporators for most of the chillers used in vending and we do our utmost to detect leaks and repair them in house.
If you read my previous article, (you’ll find it HERE), you’ll be aware that the practise of ‘topping up’, (as opposed to finding and repairing the leak), is a total bugbear of mine. As I wrote back then, to top up – without attempting to repair the leak – is not only illegal, but also has grave consequences for the environment. Frankly, it’s not even cost-effective.
Over the coming years, ‘topping up’ could have some serious implications. The replacement refrigerant for Hydrofluorocarbons will be Hydrocarbons, which are natural refrigerants with a negligible GWP. They are, however, highly flammable and they must be handled with care; so much so that systems containing them should only be worked on by authorised certified engineers.
Isobutene (R600a), currently the refrigerant of choice in most household fridges,will replace R134a. Propane (R290) can also replace R134a and R404a
In fact, we’ll only be able to use Hydrocarbon in chiller systems and machines that were designed with a specific type of refrigerant in mind. It would be highly dangerous to do so otherwise.
To finish on a positive – hydrocarbons are not only good for the environment, they’re also extremely efficient type of refrigerant that could save you between 17% and 54% on energy consumption.
And the moral of this story? Get in touch with a company such as DGB Refrigeration, that knows what’s what and can help you ensure you do the right thing both by the environment, and by your business. Put another way, give me a call or get hold of me via our web site contact form.