Why Australia is transitioning away from R22 refrigerant

The Department of the Environment in Australia has announced plans to
decrease imports of hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) to 2.5 ozone depletion
potential (ODP) tonnes by next year.

The United Nations (UN) identified HCFCs as one of the leading causes of
ozone depletion, setting several legally-binding standards geared toward
reducing the consumption of these chemicals. Malfunctioning HVAC systems can
sometimes cause harmful HCFCs to leak into the air, underlining the importance
of using refrigerant leak detectors. The policy change, will however, encourage
the nation’s HVAC industry stakeholders to work with newer machines that use
less-harmful refrigerants.

Moving away from R22

Refrigerant 22 (R22), has been in use for decades, but is one of the
chief substances responsible for ozone depravation. According to the Montreal
Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, an environmental
protection accord developed by the UN, 197 countries have implemented regulations
that discourage the production and consumption of this substance.

Among the alternative substances reviewed by participating countries is R-410A,
a refrigerant that is non-flammable and non-toxic, making it a healthier option. However,
R-410A is not exactly the ideal refrigerant; when measuring greenhouse gas
effects, the Department of the Environment noted that just 1 kilogramme of
R-410A emissions equated to two tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Are there any natural
alternatives?

An assessment conducted by the Australian Institute of Refrigeration,
Air Condition and Heating, on behalf of the Department of the Environment,
outlined four alternatives:

Ammonia

Ammonia is the primary substance for commercial or industrial
refrigeration applications. Although the machines capable of using ammonia are
much more expensive than fluorocarbon units, some suggest they’re more
efficient.

Carbon dioxide

While it contributes to climate change, carbon dioxide has an OPD of
zero, and is already used in vehicle air condition and ice skating rinks.
However, equipment will need to be further developed in order to make it a
feasible option.

Hydrocarbon

Often used in large process refrigeration systems, hydrocarbons pose lower
environmental and safety risks in the event of a leak. However, the flammable
nature of the substance is cause for concern.

Despite these options, the HVAC industry shouldn’t ignore its first line
of defence – refrigeration gauges that detect issues before they turn
into health and environmental hazards.

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instruments including refrigeration gauges.

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