Change Brings Challenges, Questions, Opportunities

Four leaders in commercial refrigeration manufacturing and refrigerant formulation provided ContractingBusiness.com with commentary on the road ahead for the refrigeration industry, and making the most of the changes.

Stay Cool During R-125 Shortage
There’s a global shortage of all types of refrigerants that’s affecting most refrigerant manufacturers. In the case of HFCs, it’s 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, 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 air conditioning, and R-404A in low-temperature refrigeration.

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.
— Gus Rolotti, director of technical sales and services, Arkema Inc.

What Cost Change?
Over the last two years, with new construction at a stand still and equipment owners hesitant to even repair their systems at times let alone replace them, it’s been a long and lean period for everyone associated with this business.

But what’s complicated matters even further has been the untimely phase-out of R-22 designed equipment, and a subsequent increase in new equipment and service costs. Most people inside and outside the HVACR industry are unaware of how the “new” HFC regulations being developed by EPA could increase costs even further.

When gasoline prices became too high of a line item, scores of people changed their habits and ultimately reduced their consumption. So now the big question is, will the cost of heat transfer have the same effect on consumers? — Gordon McKinney, vice president, ICOR

Charting a Course
The route to a new energy future is marked by obstacles, risk, and obsurity, but it’s not without hope for progress. So the next question for industry is, What can be done?

For the private sector perhaps: acknowledge that investment, product development, and sales strategy for energy efficiency technology all move forward amid deeply rototed uncertainty. Business action on energy policy wil have the best chance of success if it recognizes the sources of uncertainty and the structure of the ambiguities ahead. Each event will have consequences for itself and most other pieces of the complex puzzle.

Decisions on where and how to take action should be reviewed 360 degrees on an ongoing basis. —John Galyen, president, Danfoss

Alternative Refrigerants in Place
The key area of focus for contractors now is the R-22 phaseout and the significant reduction in R-22 supply from 2010 to 2014. Contractors need to take action now, and prepare for this phaseout by getting experience with R-22 alternatives. DuPont commercialized a new R-22 replacement in Spring 2009 which is called DuPont™ ISCEON® MO99™. MO99™ provides the closest match to R-22 with similar pressure enthalpy characteristics and mineral oil compatibility. Feedback from contractors indicated that dealing with POE oil in a retrofit (and the multiple flushes involved) added time and cost. MO99™ provides a Quick Switch and versatile alternative for R-22, and can be used across evaporator temperatures, in low, medium and high temperature applications.

HFO-1234yf has been selected to replace R-134a in automobiles, in response to the EU MAC directive. DuPont recently made an announcement to manufacture HFO-1234yf to help the auto OEMs meet the MAC Directive. Low global warming potential refrigerants are also being developed and tested for use in stationary refrigeration applications. We anticipate next generation refrigerants in stationary applications to be widely available closer to a 2020 timeframe.

The current HFC’s are going to be viable options for many years to come. Visit refrigerants.dupont.com for updates on the development of stationary next gen applications and regulatory updates.
— Joyce Wallace, North America Marketing Manager,
DuPont Refrigerants.

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