This year, we are providing space to the sponsors of our 2018 Refrigeration Roundtable, to address issues related to commercial refrigeration and refrigerants.
This month, we feature Chemours.
In November, Chemours and Meier Supply presented a webinar, “The Future of Refrigerants and Achieving Long Term Compliance,” hosted by Dale Norton of Meier Supply, and Mark Love of Chemours. The bulk of the webinar focuses on Air Conditioning, but the latter portion addresses Refrigeration.
The industry is facing many changes related to refrigerant handling and documentation, and new rulings limiting ozone depletion potential and global warming potential.
“All these have resulted in limited access to everyday common refrigerants and what may seem to be unreasonable, or unexpected price fluctuations, but at the same time these changes have also brought about new technologies,” said Dale Norton, director of sales for Meier’s Supply Co., Ithaca, N.Y. “Whether you’re a contractor, a service mechanic or a facilities manager, it’s extremely important to understand how these changes will impact your business.”
Mark Love, account manager with Chemours, addressed regulations sparked by atomospheric ozone depletion and the Montreal Protocol.
“With respect to the Montreal Protocol phase out of chlorine containing compounds, when you boil it all down, what we’re really talking about is the R-22 phase out. In 2015, the EPA published its final five-year accelerated phase out. They dropped the production cap from 2014 to 2015 by about 60 percent, and then after that, over the next five years, dropped it about 20-25% year-over-year.
“In 2019, we are entering the final year of production for R-22 in the United States. After that, there will be no more R-22 produced in the United States,” Love said. R-22 refrigerant will only be available in the inventories of producers and contracting businesses, and in the reclaimed gas market.
While the market has moved away from R-22, Love said an unintended consequence is that there are now too many R-22 replacements for contractors to choose from. Love said he has heard contractors express concern and confusion over the number of replacements. Their service vehicles contain many different refrigerants, and contractors want to know when they can move forward with confidence in using one single R-22 replacement.
Love added that contractors’ R-22 replacement strategy should be one of “simplification and standardization.”
“What that means in very tactical terms is: two jugs per truck. If you are a residential or commercial air conditioning contractor, the business owner, and in general the key decision maker, the goal is two jugs per truck,” by the end of the next 24 months. This would be one cylinder of R-22 and one cylinder of R-410,” he said.
“If you can get there, then you will have the simplification and the standardization to not only service your customers —but in terms of ease of use and executing your business — you get out of all the clutter of [multiple refrigerants].”
Love encouraged contractors to be aligned with a quality distributor such as Meier Supply, as a way to ensure they receive the highest quality refrigerants and other HVACR products and components. He said Meier Supply is invested in standing by products, and are aligned with the top HVACR manufacturers.
MO99 Characteristics Reviewed
Love reviewed the origin and characteristics of Chemours’s MO99 refrigerant, which has universal oil compatibility.
“In the early 2000s, as the industry started to realize that the R-22 phase out was happening, and that as an industry, we’re going to move away from R-22, we started to get market feedback that said, ‘We like 407C, but we’d really like something that has greater application and could be used outside of POE systems, because the majority of R-22 systems are run on either mineral oil or Alkylbenzine.’”
From that market feedback Chemours developed MO99 (R-438A), one of the first R22 replacements. The first three components which make up about 98% of MO99 are the same three components as in R-407C: R32, R-134A and R-125; the other components are R-600 (butane) and R-601a (isopentane).
“It is standard industry practice to add a few percent of hydrocarbons to HFC blends to assist with oil return. The blend itself is A1 non-flammable,” Love said.
“MO99 has been adopted very heavily in the air conditioning space because it’s a very quick switch from R-22. It’s similar to R-407C, but you can use it with mineral oil and Alkylbenzine,” Love explained.
“We recommend it as the R-22 replacement because it has the closest performance match to R-22 of all the oil compatible R-22 replacement products. It’s got a 93% capacity match. It’s EER in essence is the same as R-22. If you have AC equipment that’s running on R-22, you don’t need to change the equipment. If it’s working on 22, it will work on MO99. The biggest change is that it requires no oil change. In terms of a conversion, the conversion is very simple, and very straightforward. Working across all oils is its defining feature.”
(NOTE: Any No Oil Change Replacement Refrigerants will not be compatible with Trane® 3-D® or Danfoss SM scroll compressors without doing a full oil change over to POE oil. For refrigerant conversions in larger commercial building applications using rooftop units or screw compressors, detailed system evaluation is recommended. Some instructions for residential and commercial applications can be found online, at www.Freon.com.)
During any conversion, recover the used R-22, perform a system leak check, label the system and optimize set points.
“This is important, especially labeling the system, because once you put MO99 in, the pressures are the same. The Delta-T is going to be the same, so it’s going to be very difficult to distinguish with your gauges whether you have MO99 or R-22 in it, so within each jug of MO99 we supply labels so that you can label that piece of equipment and continue with converting the rest of the systems that you have,” Love said.
Love also advised replacing the Shrader pin. He said contractors have done a phenomenal job of adjusting to the market and converting systems from R-22 to R-22 replacements.
Because of the change over to R-410A equipment and just by performing refrigerant conversions, the overall demand has dropped faster than the supply of R-22.
“That’s what’s caused the price to pull back. It’s nothing more than a market response to a significant drop in demand dropping faster than actually the rate of decline for the supply,” Love said.
“That’s why the challenge for the folks who service AC equipment is to get down to two jugs in about 18 to 24 months. Once you get post-2020, you really want to be out of R-22, because at that point in time, there’s the potential, depending on the rate of conversions to R-410A equipment, that the market may get a little bit tight. We don’t expect that in 19 and 20. We would expect the R-22 market to be a mirror of 2018.”
Love concluded his presentation by reviewing the current state of the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP 20 ruling, which was vacated in January 2018, but is being rewritten.
“The EPA is in the process right now of rewriting this rule and reissuing it. Our expectation is in 2019, the rule will be reissued. That rule will be very similar to the original Snap 20, which is discontinuing R-404 and R-507 for use first in new supermarket racks and condensing units, and then for smaller stand alone systems. Although right now we’re in a standstill, our expectation is that in 2019, this will be reissued.
“The big take-away from this is that SNAP 20 on a Federal level has been paused, but you will start to see it again and hear about it again in 2019. The march away from HFCs will continue,” he said. At the Federal level, Love said, SNAP 20 is currently on hold, but in the state of California it is not. It is in effect. No new equipment can contain R-404 and R-507. In addition to SNAP 20, California, wanting to lead on the issue has said, “We’re not only going to do that, we’re going to align much closer to what’s happening over in Europe.”
“California officials have submitted a proposal that, starting in 2024, service gas restrictions will be in place for refrigerants with GWP greater than 1500. Other than R-134A, there’s no refrigerants you have on your truck right now that’s below that limit. In essence, this GWP limit in the state of California outlaws R-404A and R-507,” Love said.
“It would also eliminate the use any of the 407 refrigerants. The developed countries are moving to this 1500 GWP limit for large refrigeration systems and this is all new installation."
Chemours has a full line of Opteon™ refrigerant solutions such as Opteon™ XP40 (R449A) that fall below the 1500 WGP limits and replace incumbent refrigerants such as R-22, R-404A and R-507.
Love said that by vacating SNAP 20, the EPA did a disservice, in that the action sent a message to the industry that things would revert back to the past.
“That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Love said. “We are moving, and continuing to move forward in an environment — especially in refrigeration — that trends towards lower and lower GWP”