The modern age of refrigeration began in the early 1930s when DuPont and General Motors combined their resources to develop Freon® as a fluorocarbon refrigerant that was safer and more effective than toxic alternatives. The production of Freon® 12 soon reached commercial quantities, and it gained broad acceptance throughout the refrigeration industry. Over the years, DuPont continued to bring forward innovations in commercial refrigerants, including R-11, R-114, R-113 and R-22.
Today, refrigerant technology continues to evolve with more environmentally sustainable alternatives to chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) and hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants, and DuPont is continuing to lead the way. In its laboratories, through field testing and partnerships with environmental organizations, industry associations and customers, DuPont is developing the next generation of refrigerants.
As R-22 is phased out, DuPont is bringing alternatives to the market that will enable HVACR distributors and contractors to provide their customers with solutions that meet their needs, save on energy bills and preserve the environment. “DuPont has helped the industry during critical periods of transition in the past and, through our science and technology leadership, we are poised to assist the industry once again with solutions for the future,” says James E. Bachman, national sales and marketing manager for DuPont Chemicals and Fluoroproducts.
HVACR distributors should be playing an important role in helping their customers move away from R-22. DuPont alternatives to R-22 and its programs to educate customers on all aspects of these new refrigerants will go a long way in easing the transition.
It is very important for contractors to be aware that in early January 2012, the U.S. EPA published a proposed rule titled “Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Adjustments to the Allowance System for Controlling HCFC Production, Import and Export.” The intent of the proposed rule is to adjust and reduce HCFC allowances (i.e., the right to produce and/or import virgin R-22) over the period 2012-2014.
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The reductions being proposed by the EPA are significant — ranging from 11 to 47 percent per year over the period 2012-2014. These proposed reductions are in addition to the 10 percent annual reductions already built into the 2009 final rule. The rationale for these proposed reductions is based upon new information received by the EPA from industry stakeholders indicating 1) there is significant, systemwide inventory in the value chain, 2) reclaim capacity has increased significantly, and reclamation quantities are far below capacity and EPA projections of what is required, and 3) supermarket retrofits to HFCs have created additional supply of used R-22 for servicing existing equipment.
To put this into perspective, under this proposal, 2012 allowances would be reduced from roughly 90 million pounds (based on the 2009 rule) to somewhere between 55 million to 80 million pounds, 2013 allowances would be reduced from roughly 79 million pounds to somewhere between 46 million to 69 million pounds, and 2014 allowances would be reduced from roughly 69 million pounds to somewhere between 36 million to 58 million pounds. Because the proposed rule will not be final until sometime later this year, on Jan. 20, 2012, the EPA issued to the HCFC importers and producers a “No Action Assurance” letter establishing a reduction of 45 percent vs. 2011 allowances to be in effect in 2012 pending finalization of the rule. Publication of a final rule is likely to take until late summer and, therefore, the industry must plan for the 45 percent reduction that is in the “No Action Assurance” letter. No doubt, this proposed rule is a “call to action” for the industry, says Jim Bachman. “We strongly recommend contractors and equipment owners utilize HFC replacement refrigerants and increase use of R-22 reclamation to avoid price volatility and supply shortfalls of R-22.”
DuPont markets the broadest range of more environmentally sustainable alternatives for air conditioning and refrigeration applications, including the DuPont™ ISCEON® family of refrigerants, a full line of nonozone depleting refrigerants that work as efficient, cost-effective replacements and are ideal for retrofitting existing equipment that uses CFC and HCFC refrigerants.
“Our DuPont™ ISCEON® MO99™ refrigerant is the quick switch to replace R-22,” Bachman says. “It combines similar R-22 pressure enthalpy characteristics with mineral oil compatibility into a unique HFC refrigerant that can be used to replace R-22 over a wide range of evaporator temperatures.”
DuPont has posted a video on YouTube showing the ease of retrofitting to its ISCEON® MO99™ refrigerant. The video, titled “Retrofit to DuPont™ ISCEON® MO99™ Refrigerant,” has been seen more than 2,000 times and represents another way that DuPont is connecting with customers to give them the tools they need to stay in front of the ever-changing refrigerant curve. “We will continue to provide digital tools to help the HVACR industry,” Bachman says.
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With the accelerated R-22 phase-out, reclaim will play an increasingly important role in ensuring adequate refrigerant supply. In the newly proposed rule, the EPA estimates that reclaim needs to increase to 35 percent of the service demand requirements to avoid supply shortfall. This is a step-change in service practices versus the 5 to 7 percent per year historical levels. As R-22 allowances are reduced and the transition away from R-22 moves forward, equipment owners and contractors will need to have a refrigerant management plan that involves improving their service practices around recovery and reclamation.
“We strongly advocate refrigerant management planning as the best way to handle the R-22 phase-out,” Bachman says. Refrigerant management planning includes record keeping, retrofitting equipment to HFC alternatives, reducing leaks and recovering used refrigerant. Bachman emphasizes, “Managing R-22 inventory and managing the transition away from R-22 should be a high priority for equipment owners.”
The DuPont Reclaim Program can assist in these efforts, Bachman says. “We've offered to take back recovered refrigerant under our DuPont Reclaim Program for many years as part of our commitment to assist the industry with sustainable practices.”
The national network of DuPont Authorized Refrigerant Reclaim centers takes back recovered R-22 and other refrigerants. As part of this program, a menu of options is available so the Reclaim Centers can tailor their reclaim offering to meet the needs of their customers. “Our reclaim program is easy, flexible and convenient to encourage recovery practices and appeal to a broad base of customers,” he adds.
In addition to the reclaim program, DuPont has launched the DuPont Brand Assurance Anti-Counterfeiting Initiative. They designed this initiative to combat the growing industry problem of counterfeit refrigerants and illegal imports. It uses proprietary DuPont technology that involves the patented DuPont™ Izon® 3D holographic label. DuPont places the Izon® label on the Dispos-A-Can® (DAC) to enable immediate verification of authentic DuPont products. To learn more about the DuPont Brand Assurance Program, visit refrigerants.dupont.com/genuine.
Among some of the other alternative refrigerants that DuPont has introduced recently is its DuPont™ Opteon™ yf (also known as HFO-1234yf) next-generation refrigerant. (HFO stands for hydrofluoro olefin.) Developed jointly with Honeywell, it is an alternative to R-134a in response to the European Union F-gas regulation for automotive air conditioning.
DuPont also has active development programs underway for a family of reduced global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants based on HFO technology aimed at stationary air conditioning and refrigeration applications. DuPont's research and development programs for automotive refrigerant and stationary refrigerant development are distinct work streams, but Bachman notes that DuPont™ Opteon™ yf is a building block for its stationary next-generation refrigerant development work.
Developed under the brand name of DuPont™ Opteon™ refrigerants, these programs include laboratory and field testing of a family of candidate refrigerants with various equipment suppliers.
For the DuPont Authorized Reclaim Center near you, or additional information, visit refrigerants.dupont.com/manage22.
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Bachman says the timing of U.S. demand for the reduced GWP candidates is uncertain and will largely be determined by the timing of the phase-down and other regulations regarding hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). He adds, however, that there could be limited market demand ahead of regulations in market segments in which companies want to reduce their carbon footprint by using lower GWP refrigerants.
DuPont says HFCs continue to offer the best balance of properties, including safety, performance and cost-effectiveness, for many high-value, end-use applications. “HFCs have provided and continue to provide viable solutions to eliminate the use of ozone-depleting substances in many applications of high value to society,” Bachman says. “DuPont strongly supports efforts to ensure HFC emissions reduction in these applications.”
DuPont recognizes, however, that there might be a desire or requirement for lower GWP alternatives as some applications meet evolving regulations and environmental standards. “We are committed to developing more sustainable solutions for the air conditioning and refrigeration industry,” Bachman says. He adds that the proposed regulations on HFCs involve a cap and reduction framework that would result in a phase-down of availability and not a phase-out. “This means that HFCs will continue to be available for applications with high societal value where valuable alternatives are not available.”
While lab and field testing continue with these lower GWP candidates, Bachman says many candidates are yielding improved performance over the current HFCs. It will also be necessary to address flammability through codes/standards upgrades and system design modifications. The ultimate test, however, will be determined by the marketplace. “Overall economics will be a key factor in determining market interest and rate of adoption,” he says.
Bachman says a leading candidate for stationary refrigeration applications is DuPont™ Opteon™ XP10, a new, lower GWP that is a more environmentally sustainable refrigerant. It is an option for many air conditioning and refrigeration applications, including medium temperature refrigeration and commercial air conditioning and water chillers. “We expect that Opteon™ X10 has the potential to be used in all applications where R-134a is used today,” Bachman says. “This includes refrigeration, milk-cooling, heat pumps, beverage cooling and cold rooms.”
For distributors who want to learn more about DuPont Opteon™ refrigerants and their entire family of refrigerants, its website, refrigerants.dupont.com, has detailed information. DuPont has a national network of refrigerant distributors and offers a variety of programs to help support them. “We value our relationships with our distributors greatly and consider these relationships a vital part of our 80-plus years of leadership in this industry,” Bachman says.
To help contractors and end-users move from the pressure temperature (P/T) charts of yesterday to the technology of today, DuPont recently developed the DuPont Refrigerants P/T Calc App. This easy-to-use app includes P/T data for the entire family of DuPont refrigerants, including DuPont Freon®, DuPont SUVA® and DuPont ISCEON® products. “The development of the P/T calc app is another example of our commitment to digital initiatives,” Bachman says.
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Information available for each refrigerant includes percentage composition, physical, chemical and environmental properties, temperature glides, typical use applications and lubricant recommendations. The app provides product information and links back to the DuPont website. In addition, the app automatically calculates superheat and supercooling, and the user may specify data in English or metric units. It is available at the iTunes app store; search DuPont and choose the P/T Calc.
As regulations continue to evolve, DuPont is helping its customers, including its wholesale distributors, navigate these changes through education, training and industry advocacy. DuPont is also active in many industry organizations including ASHRAE, AHRI and HARDI, and its technical resources play a leadership role on a number of technical committees around the world. DuPont is also a member of the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and works closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lead proactive sustainable practices in the HVACR industry.
One of the programs in which DuPont is actively involved with the EPA is the GreenChill Advanced Refrigeration Partnership. This is a voluntary program to promote green technologies, strategies and practices that protect the ozone layer, reduce greenhouse gases, save money and increase refrigeration system energy efficiency. DuPont was a founding member of this partnership, which is made up of several major supermarket chains and refrigeration equipment manufacturers.
Michael Maynard is a contributing editor based in Providence, RI. He writes frequently on HVACR, construction and architecture issues. Contact him at [email protected].
R-22 is going away.
The time to act is now.
DuPont Refrigerants recommends that equipment owners and facility managers work with their HVACR service technicians to develop and implement a refrigerant management plan to move away from R-22.
A Refrigerant Management Plan checklist can help you assess your equipment's condition and schedule required action to ensure a smooth, orderly and cost-effective transition without risk of business interruption.
A refrigerant management plan includes:
- Record keeping.
- Repairing leaks.
- Replacing equipment at the end of its useful life with newer, nonozone depleting refrigerants like 410A.
- Recover and reclaim used refrigerants.
- Retrofit to R-22 alternative refrigerants (like DuPont™ ISCEON® MO99™ refrigerant).
For the DuPont Authorized Reclaim Center near you, or additional information, visit refrigerants.dupont.com/manage22.
Business owners and service technicians must develop and implement a http://tinyurl.com/73mo8qz to assure business runs without interruption.