There is a global shortage of all types of refrigerants that is affecting most refrigerant manufacturers. In the case of HFCs, it is being caused, in part, by a lack of raw material feedstock. This is particularly true in the case of R-125, a key component in most new blends such as R-410A, but also in R-407C, R-404A, and R-507A.
This is happening at a time when R-22 supplies have been phased down by regulatory mandate and the industry is ramping up its use of replacements, such as R-410A in residential A/C and R-404A in low-temperature refrigeration.
OEMs have little choice now as to what to use, since switching to something different is very costly and time consuming. However, the service industry does have some alternatives. The first one is to fully utilize reclaim services that would allow contractors to recover, clean and reuse valuable R-22 already in the market. This, in conjunction with a good plan to fix leaks and tighten up systems, among other things, should make existing supplies last a lot longer.
A second alternative is to begin using products such as R-427A to replace R-22 in existing equipment. This will not only keep equipment running at a high level, but will free up R-22 that can be used in other systems after it is reclaimed. Please check Arkema’s website for more information on how and where to take advantage of our reclaim program.
The bad news is that there is this refrigerant shortage. The good news is that manufacturers are working hard to manage and resolve the problem so we can begin building up inventories to satisfy the market’s need. The industry is also busy in the development of other alternatives, such as low global warming potential (low GWP) refrigerants for different applications, and relying on different raw materials, that will go a long way to prevent such problems from reoccurring.
Gus Rolotti is Director of Technical Sales and Services for