Environment

The international work aimed at replacing refrigerants with products with less environmental impact has been ongoing for decades. A framework of global agreements aimed at phasing out the climate-impacting refrigerants has been adopted.

The international collaboration aimed at phasing out the refrigerants which impact most on the environment is governed by the United Nation’s environmental body, UNEP, with the Montreal protocol about substances which break down the ozone layer as the governing document. The Montreal protocol has been ratified by all nations in the UN – 197 in total – and has been an important instrument of control for banning refrigerants with CFC(1) and HCFC(2), with the result that the ozone-destroying gases in the atmosphere have been reduced significantly.

Within the EU there is the so-called ozone regulation which regulates destructive substances and which bans the use of HCFC after 31 December 2014. Some countries, including Sweden, banned CFC and HCFC in an earlier phase.

An environmental problem linked with the refrigerants which replace CFC and HCFC is that they are potent greenhouse gases and, therefore, environment influencing. The work aimed at reducing the volume of refrigerants with significant climate impact is proceeding vigorously.

Within the EU, a new F-gas regulation has been published in April 2014 which increases the demands for the phasing out of HFC(3) refrigerants with a high greenhouse impact. The F-gas regulation also regulates the authority for intervening in the refrigerant cycle in order to avoid leakage, all in order to reduce the discharges. The new F-gas regulation will also regulate the imported volume of refrigerants into the EU with a falling import volume until 2030. This is to give owners of installations time to adapt their selection of refrigerant.

How climate impacting a greenhouse gas is, is described with the GWP number which is an index measure with carbon dioxide as index 1 – a refrigerant with a GWP number of, for example, 2,500 is, therefore, so many times more climate-impacting than the corresponding volume of carbon dioxide.

Refrigerants with high GWP values will, probably, be banned in a few years’ time and work aimed at introducing substitutes with less climate impact is underway in the sector. The alternatives include the natural substances, carbon dioxide (GWP 1) and propane (3.3) as well as the synthetic substance, HFO(4)-1234yf (<1).

A measure of the total impact of a refrigeration installation is the TEWI factor (Total Environmental Warming Impact) which also takes into consideration the propellant energy required to run a refrigerating machine/heat pump, which is normally electricity. The TEWI factor depends on how the electricity is produced. Installations driven by electricity produced with fossil fuels have significantly more climate impact regardless of refrigerant which, therefore, becomes of less importance.

Beijer Ref possesses the technical competence required for dimensioning and selecting the right components for refrigeration and heat pump installations. The company’s product offer is sufficiently broad to cover all types of site-adapted products and system solutions. Beijer Ref offers all refrigerants existing in the market in order to be able to offer the best solution for the respective application, based on regulation compliance as well as on consideration for investment cost, energy consumption and maintenance cost.

(1) ChloroFluoroCarbons, ozone-destroying

(2) HydroChloroFluoroCarbons, ozone-destroying

(3) HydroFluoroCarbons, high GWP impact

(4) HydroFluoroOlefin, environment friendly

Refrigerants’ impact on the climate is measured in two terms, ODP and GWP. The abbreviation, ODP, stands for Ozone Depletion Potential (the unit for measuring the impact on the ozone layer) and GWP for Global Warming Potential (the unit for measuring the impact of the greenhouse effect).

A measure of the total impact of a refrigeration installation is the TEWI factor (Total Environmental Warming Impact) which also takes into consideration the propellant energy required to run a refrigerating machine/heat pump, which is normally electricity.

Refrigerants are named in accordance with ASHRAE (American standard), normally with the letter R (as in Refrigerant) followed by a number or letter combination. The combination is built on the basis of the refrigerant’s chemical composition.