Phase out of R22
The use of refrigerant R22 is being phased out. From January 1, 2010 there would be complete ban on the production and import of R22 though it will be allowed for the servicing for the existing refrigeration equipment. Eventually, by January 1, 2020, there would be complete ban on the refrigerant. In the intermediate period the customers who still use the refrigeration systems using R22 have opportunity to switch over to alternate refrigerants that could be used in their existing systems after making required modifications.
R22 Alternative Options
There are several refrigerants that do not cause the depletion of the ozone layer and that can be used as the alternatives for R22. Some of these are R-134a, R-507, R-404A, R-407c, and R- 410A. Refrigerant 507 is the azeotropic mixture comprising 50% of R-125 and 50% of R-134a. Refrigerant 407C is the mixture of 23% of R-32, 25% of R-125, and 52% of R-134A.
For the air conditioning applications the best choice available in the market is R-410A and for refrigeration applications the best choices are R-404A and R-507.
With the availability of the new refrigerants it is the duty of the contractors to recommend to their customers to switch over to the alternative refrigerants that are 100% non-ozone depleting in nature and that they are not subject to phase out. The contractors should preferably recommend the refrigerants that are more efficient than R22 since they would require less electricity and will save the utility bills.
Important EPA Guidelines for Replacements for R22
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued following guidelines for the replacement of R22 refrigerant with alternative refrigerants:
1) For any particular refrigeration and air conditioning application, the EPA maintains the list of the refrigerants that can be used as the alternatives for R22.
2) Many individuals and the companies are under the impression that the alternative refrigerants for R22 can be used directly in the existing machinery or refrigeration equipment. However, EPA has made it clear that the refrigerants being used as the alternatives for R22 cannot be generally used directly in the existing equipment as “drop-in" replacement without making the modifications in the system.
3) Another important thing is that if the alternative refrigerants are being used in the converted system (old system converted to use the substitute refrigerant) the personnel operating these equipment should be trained in installation, operation and maintenance of the equipment.
4) If you are planning switch over to the new alternative refrigerant for R22 consider the cost of the refrigerant, the availability of the refrigerant and also the cost of the new equipment required for the switch over. Make sure that the alternative you are considering is compatible with the application you are looking for and that it meets the manufacturer instructions and warranty conditions.
5) One of the most important things is to be sure that the substitute refrigerant is indeed non-ozone depleting refrigerant. If you don’t have much knowledge about it visit EPA website: www.epa.gov/ozone to make sure. It is not necessary that the technicians servicing non-ozone depleting refrigerants for appliances are certified especially for these refrigerants, though the certification for servicing on CFC and HCFC refrigerants is required.
6) Those who are replacing R22 with new refrigerant should note that it is illegal to intentionally release CFC and HCFC refrigerants and also alternative refrigerants to the atmosphere.
7) When switching over to the new refrigerant and disposing the older refrigeration or air conditioning equipment, recover the old refrigerant R22 to protect the ozone layer and comply with the law. The recovered gas can be reclaimed using specialized machinery or it can be destroyed. The recovered R22 refrigerant cannot be sold to the other user.
3) Book: Principles of Refrigeration by Roy J Dossat, fourth edition, Prentice Hall