From 1 January 2015 EC Regulations will make it unlawful for anyone to service or maintain their air conditioning system using an R-22 refrigerant gas.
f your air conditioning equipment is over ten years old it’s likely that you will be affected, and like thousands of businesses the priority will be to replace existing air conditioning equipment with a new cleaner, high efficiency system.
The ban on the use of virgin HCFC gases represents a very real business threat to any company which uses refrigerants like R22 in their processes or air conditioning systems. Although R22 refrigerant gas has not been used in new systems for several years R22 remains one of the most commonly used refrigerants in the UK so many organisations are going to be affected by the ban. Sectors at greatest risk include the food and drink industry, petro-chemicals, pharmaceuticals, health, retail, hospitality, finance and data-processing. Typical applications can vary widely, but examples include refrigeration systems in supermarkets, blast chillers, cold stores and process coolers and many types of building air-conditioning as well as in transport refrigeration. Many of these applications are absolutely critical to the continued operation of their owner’s business.
It should be noted that the bans described above refer to the “use” of HCFCs. In terms of considering what action needs to be taken it should be noted that ‘use’ in relation to equipment containing HCFCs means –
“the utilisation of controlled substances in the production or maintenance, in particular refilling, of products or equipment”
This means that it is permissible to carry on using equipment that contains HCFCs beyond the phase-out dates, but there must be no maintenance or servicing undertaken on the equipment that involves breaking into the refrigerant gas circuit
The law has changed and what you NEED to know about R-22 refrigerant gas?
R22 is a refrigerant gas with a high ODP (ozone-depleting potential) value, and when released into the atmosphere, it causes damage to the ozone layer. The Government, along with the whole of the European Union, have signed a UN international treaty to ‘phase out’ this refrigerant to protect the environment and reduce any further damage to the ozone layer.
It is estimated that more than 60% of air conditioning systems in operation today are using R22 refrigerant, so it is going to be a monumental task to remove it from those systems.
The first step was a ban on all newly manufactured air conditioning systems carrying R22, and then in December 2009, virgin R22 was banned, meaning only recycle R-22 refrigerant gas was available for servicing, maintenance and repair of systems using R22. This ‘phase out’ will end with a complete ban on all R22 use with effect from January 1st 2015. On that date, if your system uses R22 and suffers a leak, it will not be possible to repair or refill it. If it is your sole source of heating or cooling, and there is a failure, you may well be without heating or cooling for a considerable period of time. This could be catastrophic if, for example, your system is being used to cool a server room. Until that date, the stock and availability of recycled R-22 refrigerant gas is continually decreasing, and consequently the cost is being driven up by suppliers as stocks dwindle.
Ignoring Regulation (EC) 1005/2009 and the changes it brings until the end of 2014, will not exempt you or your company from being affected by it as of January 2015.