F-Gas regulation – Toughening up on refrigerant gases in 2020

Two months into 2020 and tougher legislation and punishments are coming into play for the refrigerants gases business in the wake of both the F-Gas regulation and the illegal imports associated with it.

With the confirmation of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU – ‘Brexit’ – last month, there are also question marks over how the UK tackles its adherence to the F-Gas regulations.

The EU fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gas) regulations are a central part of the ‘European Green Deal’ to limit climate change. F-Gases include refrigerants known as HFCs, which are potent greenhouse gases (GHGs).

The regulations aim to stimulate a switch from F-Gases with a high global warming potential (GWP) to more modern gases with a lower GWP using a mix of end-use bans and quotas. These quotas were introduced in 2015 and have progressive reductions through to 2030 to cap the environmental impact of F-Gases used in the EU.

In 2018 and 2019, however, the refrigeration sector media was full of stories about the illegal import of F-Gases into the EU outside of this quota system.

A-Gas urges users to switch to reclaimed refrigerants

These additional products were both undermining the intent of the legislation and causing a slump in F-Gas pricing in the EU. In the 12-month run up to the EU import quota reduction on 1stJanuary 2018, the prices for HFCs such as R134a and R404A increased approximately 10-fold. At this price point, the risk-to-reward ratio for smuggling activities was highly favourable and sucked in illegal imports estimated to be as much as 30% of total EU demand.

The increased supply led to falling prices and at the end of 2019, common HFCs were trading at about 30% below levels in 2018. Furthermore, throughout 2019 there were highly publicised cases of smuggled goods seizures and prosecutions leading to fines. As the rewards are falling the risks rising, many industry participants expect a reduction in illegal F-Gas trade in 2020.

Getting tougher on illegal trade in 2020

Most countries in the European Union (EU) had implemented legislation to cascade the EU F-Gas regulations into national law. At the beginning of 2019, however, neither Romania nor Italy had legislated at a local level.

Both are EU border states with extensive coastlines representing potential import routes for F-Gases from major chemical producing countries such as China.

On 17th January this year, tough legislation came into force in Italy that could see fines of up to €100,000 for breaches of the EU F-Gas regulations.

Alessandro Borri, Director – Sales & Marketing at General Gas Kryon® Refrigerants in Italy, spoke about the impact this legislation is already having. “In 2018 and 2019, illegally imported refrigerant gas cylinders were being offered onto the Italian market through non-conventional channels such as social media websites.We tracked a lot of these adverts and used our communication channels to point out the quality, safety and environmental risks of purchasing these illegally imported products.”

“For example, they are often contained in disposable cylinders (which are banned in the EU) or in refillable cylinders that do not have the required TPED safety approval. Furthermore, when analysed using laboratory instruments, most of them are revealed to have poor quality with high humidity, out-of-spec percentages of the blend components or high amounts of non-condensable gases. They also lack the required CLP safety labelling and are supplied without a safety data sheet and emergency telephone number, which are mandatory by law. Each one of those points falls short of the practices that reputable suppliers such as GeneralGas adhere to.”

Borri continued, “In the past, there was no legislation in Italy to punish this behaviour. However, since the new legislation has come into force in Italy, our market intelligence has shown an 80% reduction in the number of offers for illegally imported refrigerant gases on these social media sites.”

“The integrity hotline, which is operated by EQS on behalf of the European Fluorocarbons Technical Committee (EFCTC), is also a good idea. This all adds up to being great news for legitimate businesses and the successful implementation of the EU’s flagship environmental policy.”

Policy at a regional level sets the future direction

Fabrizio Codella, who works in the Italian refrigeration equipment supply sector, said that, “the changes in Italy are a good antidote to illegal trade and will shut one more door into the EU.”

He added that, “At a regional level there are also loud noises being made to send strong signals that the EU is getting tough.”

Codella pointed to a conference on the fight against illegal imports of refrigerant gases into the EU, held on 22nd and 23rd January as an example. The event was organised by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in cooperation with two EC departments, DG TAXUD and DG CLIMA, thereby bringing together the financial and environmental stakeholders to accelerate the resolution of this illegal F-Gas trade problem.”

Through the EFCTC, Honeywell and other leading refrigerant gas producers have been in dialogue with the EC to consider bolstering F-Gas enforcement with measures such as better border controls and real time access to customs import data and quota registrations to combat the illegal import of HFCs.

Speaking for Honeywell’s Advanced Materials division, Lee Hermitage – EMEA Marketing Director, Fluorine Products – said, “We are pleased that the EC recognises the illegal import issue, however at the same time believe there is still a long way to go in tackling it. Many sources have estimated that 2018 saw illegal imports at 25-30% of the total EU import quota level. We believe that this illegal trade did reduce a little in 2019, but we are sure that much more needs to be done.”

“Clearly, additional disruptive measures such as tougher financial and custodial penalties for offenders and better training of customs officers will be needed to put a stop to illegal imports soon. Ultimately, the EC and the member states must continue to work together and apply focus here to ensure that climate protection goals are not undermined by illegal trade.”

It’s thought that product bans from 1st January (2020) will also drive change.

Anybody who has bought a new car in the EU since 2017, for example, will most likely have purchased a model with an air conditioning system filled with the modern HFO type of refrigerant gas knownas R1234yf. This is a low GWP alternative to its fore-runner, the HFC called R134a. The change here was driven by mobile air conditioning (MAC) regulations which put a cap on the maximum GWP of the refrigerant gases used in automotive air-conditioning units.

Reformation in refrigerants – F-Gases, the MAC Directive and the future

To force the transition from higher GWP HFC refrigerants to lower GWP products, such as carbon dioxide, propane, HFC/HFO blends or HFOs in other applications apart from MAC, the F-Gas regulation employs a mix of import quota reductions and similar end-use bans. The most recent ban became effective on 1stJanuary 2020 for larger stationery refrigeration systems with a charge of more than approximately 10kg of refrigerants such as R404A or R507C.

“For sure the market for recovered and regenerated refrigerants will increase because the ban only covers the sale of so called ‘virgin’ molecules,” reflected Codella. “Whilst there are a few suitable drop-in replacements for R404A, such as R448A, R449A and R452A there are not so many choices to replace R507C and I can imagine that recovered R507C will be in particularly high demand.”

Speaking from the perspective of a refrigerant gas distributor, Borri concurred, “In 2018 and 2019 refrigeration service engineers continued to use high GWP gases such as R404A instead of the lower GWP retrofit gases such as R448A. Since January of this year, we have seen a big difference and our sales of the retrofit gases have increased by 30% compared to the same period last year. We believe that this is directly related to the 1stJanuary end use ban on virgin R404A in these larger systems – the legislation is clearly driving practice in the right direction.”

Honeywell’s Hermitage sees both challenges and solutions. His view is that, “In recent years, there has indeed been a lot of R404A pulled out of large supermarket refrigeration systems as they have switched to more modern gases. However, there is simply not enough regeneration capacity in the EU to clean this recovered R404A gas for re-use.”

As an alternative to using regenerated high GWP materials, he also points to evidence of long-term thinking in the sector.

“One of our alternatives for the R404A refrigerant gas is called Solstice®N-40. It’s our proprietary name for the zeotropic blend of R448A with a GWP of 1273. Because it is a drop-in replacement, its convenience will appeal to many operators. However, we anticipate that some end-users will leapfrog these transitional drop-in replacements and move straight to the end-game with a product such as Solstice®L40-X, also known as R455A. Changing to this refrigerant gas would require the operator to invest in new refrigeration equipment, but the financial and environmental pay-back through improved energy efficiency coupled with the low GWP makes this choice compelling.”

Brexit might mean more complexity

With his office location in England, Hermitage is well placed to share an opinion on how the departure of the UK from the EU on 31stJanuary this year will impact the EU F-Gas quotas. In short, he anticipates continuity for the environmental policies, although exports from the UK to EU member states are likely to become more complex.

He said, “The simplest outcome would be for the UK to stay in the EU F-Gas quota system and abide by the F-Gas regulations. However, if the UK takes a different approach, one potential outcome would be to operate a parallel quota system, with similar reductions based on a starting point set at the current level of EU quotas owned by UK entities.”

“In spirit, nothing would change,” he concluded, “but the trade of F-Gases and refrigeration equipment that is pre-charged with these gases would become more complex.”

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High efficiency and low GWP drop-in replacements for R404A and R22

As part of its continuous research into replacements for Ozone Depleting Substances and low Greenhouse Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants, Refrigerant Solutions Ltd (RSL) has developed non flammable and energy efficient drop-in alternatives for both R22 and R404A. These new products are RS-50 (R442A), which replaces R404A and RS-70, which replaces R22.

RS-50 (R442A) has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of less than one half of R404A together with significantly higher efficiency capacity. Independent university tests carried out under identical conditions on RS-50 (R442A) and five other refrigerants, including R404A, R407A, R507, R407F and R22, demonstrated the considerably higher energy efficiency and cooling power of RS-50 compared to the other refrigerants:


P evaporation

( bar)

P condensation (bar)16.114.816.21716.0512.68
P high/P low11.9311.3312109.789.98
Discharge temp (°C)858283797885
Cooling capacity (W)1252935147710909921263
Coefficient of Performance1.761.61.941.521.371.89



The high energy efficiency and capacity of RS-50 has been confirmed in a series of field trials, eg replacing R404A with RS-50 at supermarkets Auchan Meriadeck, Bordeaux; 8 a Huit,  Lambres Lez Douai; Sorli Discau Barcelona and others, and at McVities, Glasgow and S K Foods, Middlesbrough. In all these cases, energy efficiencies exceeding R404A compared to R404A were experienced.

RS-50 can be used to replace R404A in both new and existing equipment. No changes to the hardware are necessary. Because the properties of RS-50 are similar to R404A, it is suitable for use in many of the applications where R404A is commonly found, including supermarket display cases, cold stores, freezers, refrigerated transport, ice machines, cold storage, transportation of foodstuffs, freezer cabinets, beer cellars, freeze dryers and environmental test chambers. R22 is also used in many of these refrigeration applications, where RS-50 can be a suitable replacement.

RS-70 is a non-flammable drop-in replacement for R22, which has been designed to have the lowest possible Global GWP consistent with high thermodynamic performance having a similar cooling capacity and Coefficient of Performance (COP) as R22. Consequently, RS-70 can be used to replace R22 in both air conditioning and refrigeration applications across the temperature range where R22 is commonly used. RS-70 is compatible both with the traditional mineral and alkylbenzene oils, and also the polyol ester lubricants, so that there is no need to change the existing lubricant in the system when retrofitting to R22. With its high technical performance, compatibility with all lubricants and low GWP, RS-70 is an excellent choice to replace R22 as the end of R22 approaches as mandated under the F-gas regulation in the European Union.

The GWP of RS-70 is lower than all other drop-in replacements for R22 available on the market, including R438A, R417A, R422B, R422D, R417B and others. The GWP of RS-70 is also lower than R427A, R407A, R407F and R421A. However, this has not been achieved by sacrificing performance since RS-70 is similar to R22 in terms of cooling capacity, COP, mass flow, compression ratio and discharge pressure while having a lower discharge temperature. Accordingly, RS-70 is an excellent choice to replace R22 in the majority of applications where R22 is found

– See more at: http://www.acr-news.com/high-efficiency-and-low-gwp-drop-in-replacements-for-r404a-and-r22#sthash.qoB8Pqxb.dpuf

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Addition Of Subclass 2L Refrigerants

Addition Of Subclass 2L Refrigerants Proposed For ASHRAE Refrigerant Safety Standard

Dec 9, 2015

Contact: Jodi Scott
Public Relations
[email protected]

ATLANTA – Industry input is being sought into a proposal to modify portions of ASHRAE’s refrigeration safety standard to incorporate subclass 2L flammability classifications.

Addendum d to ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 15-2013, Safety Standard for Refrigeration Systems, is open for public comment until Jan. 18, 2016. To comment or learn more, visit www.ashrae.org/publicreviews.

Standard 15 specifies safe design, construction, installation, and operation of refrigeration systems.

The 2010 edition of ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 34-2013, Designation and Safety Classification of Refrigerants,  added an optional Subclass 2L to the existing Class 2 flammability classification of refrigerants. This change was intended to separate single component and blended refrigerants that are difficult to ignite and sustain a flame, from other Class 2 (and Class 3) flammable refrigerants.

“The expectation was that some of the Class 2L refrigerants would be commercialized and used as substitutes for Class A1 refrigerants that are in use today,” Dennis Dorman, chair of the Standard 15 committee, said. “Refrigerants in use today may come under regulatory pressure due to their relatively higher global warming potential (GWP).  But to do this without major economic impact, Class 2L would have to be safely applied without the stringent application limitations imposed by Standard 15 on other flammable refrigerants. In other words, in order to be broadly applied, Class 2L refrigerants would need to be treated more like Class 1 than Class 2 or Class 3.”

At the start of its deliberations, the committee discovered that there was almost no science to support rules changes, let alone relaxation, of Class 2 requirements, according to Dorman.  In July 2011, a first public review of the proposed addendum was made available with numerous comments received. Since that time, the committee has been addressing the technical issues identified from that review.

Dorman noted that Standard 15 covers the full range of applications from residential to commercial to industrial applications. As such, there is an unusual degree of complexity in considering appropriate rules for each.

Now, after almost four years of research and other supporting activities conducted by industry partners, the committee has much of the technical information to support proposed rules changes to Standard 15.
“With this public review, we are seeking suggestions for new, unusual or potentially controversial elements of the proposed addendum, which the committee believes would benefit from increased public input prior to finalizing the draft for its first formal public review,” he said. “Additionally we want to make sure that we do not overlook important safety aspects that may come from various users of the standard, both domestic and international.”

ASHRAE, founded in 1894, is a global society advancing human well-being through sustainable technology for the built environment. The Society and its more than 54,000 members worldwide focus on building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, refrigeration and sustainability. Through research, standards writing, publishing, certification and continuing education, ASHRAE shapes tomorrow’s built environment today. More information can be found at www.ashrae.org/news.

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ASHRAE Refrigerant Designations

ASHRAE Refrigerant Designations

The tables contained on this page list approved refrigerant numbers from ANSI/ASHRAE 34-2013, Designation and Safety Classification of Refrigerants, the latest edition of Standard 34, which describes a shorthand way of naming refrigerants and assigns safety classifications based on toxicity and flammability data.*
Further information can be found in the latest version of Standard 34, available in the ASHRAE bookstore, and its published addenda, available on the Standards Addenda page.

Methane Series
Ethane Series
Cyclic Organic Compounds
Miscellaneous Organic Compounds
Nitrogen Compounds
Inorganic Compounds
Unsaturated Organic Compounds
Refrigerant Blends


Chemical Name
Chemical Formula
Methane Series
11trichlorofluoromethaneCCl 3F
12dichlorodifluoromethaneCCl 2F 2
12B1bromochlorodifluoromethaneCBrClF 2
13chlorotrifluoromethaneCClF 3
13B1bromotrifluoromethaneCBrF 3
14etetrafluoromethane (carbon tetrafluoride)CF 4
21dichlorofluoromethaneCHCl 2F
22chlorodifluoromethaneCHClF 2
23trifluoromethaneCHF 3
30dichloromethane (methylene chloride)CH 2Cl 2
31chlorofluoromethaneCH 2ClF
32difluoromethane (methylene fluoride)CH 2F 2
40chloromethane (methyl chloride)CH 3Cl
41fluoromethane (methyl fluoride)CH 3F
50methaneCH 4

Chemical Name
Chemical Formula
Ethane Series
1131,1,2-trichloro-1,2,2-trifluoroethaneCCl 2FCClF 2
1141,2-dichloro-1,1,2,2-tetrafluoromethaneCClF 2CClF 2
115chloropentafluoroethaneCClF 2CF 3
116hexafluoroethaneCF 3CF 3
1232,2-dichloro-1,1,1-trifluoroethaneCHCl 2CF 3
1242-chloro-1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethaneCHClFCF 3
125pentafluoroethaneCHF 2CF 3
134a1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethaneCH 2FCF 3
141b1,1-dichloro-1-fluoroethaneCH 3CCl 2F
142b1-chloro-1,1-difluoroethaneCH 3CClF 2
143a1,1,1-trifluoroethaneCH 3CF 3
152a1,1-difluoroethaneCH 3CHF 2
170ethaneCH 3CH 3

Chemical Name
Chemical Formula
E170Dimethyl EtherCH3OCH3

Chemical Name
Chemical Formula
218octafluoropropaneCF 3CF 2CF 3
227ea1,1,1,2,3,3,3-heptafluoropropaneCF 3CHFCF 3
236fa1,1,1,3,3,3-hexafluoropropaneCF 3CH 2CF 3
245fa1,1,1,3,3-pentafluoropropaneCHF 2CH 2CF 3
290propaneCH 3CH 2CH 3

Chemical Name
Chemical Formula
Cyclic Organic Compounds
C318octafluorocyclobutane-(CF 2) 4

Miscellaneous Organic Compounds
Chemical Name
Chemical Formula
600butaneCH 3CH 2CH 2CH 3 A3
600aisobutaneCH(CH 3) 2CH 3 A3
601PentaneCH 3CH 2CH 2 CH 2CH3
601aIsopentaneCH(CH 3) 2 CH 2CH 3
oxygen compounds
610ethyl etherCH 3CH 2 OCH 2CH 3
611methyl formateHCOOCH 3
sulfur compounds
620           (Reserved for future assignment)

Chemical Name
Chemical Formula
Nitrogen Compounds
630methyl amineCH 3NH 2
631ethyl amineCH 3CH 2(NH 2)

Chemical Name
Chemical Formula
Inorganic Compounds
702hydrogenH 2
717ammoniaNH 3
718waterH 2O
728nitrogenN 2
732oxygenO 2
744carbon dioxideCO 2
744Anitrous oxideN 2O
764sulfur dioxideSO 2

Chemical Name
Chemical Formula
Unsaturated Organic Compounds
1150ethene (ethylene)CH2=CH2
1270propene (propylene)CH3CH=CH 2

Refrigerant Blends

Refrigerant Composition (Mass % )
400R-12/114 (must be specified)
401AR-22/152a/124 (53.0/13.0/34.0)
401BR-22/152a/124 (61.0/11.0/28.0
401CR-22/152a/124 (33.0/15.0/52.0)
402AR-125/290/22 (60.0/2.0/38.0)
402BR-125/290/22 (38.0/2.0/60.0)
403AR-290/22/218 (5.0/75.0/20.0)
403BR-290/22/218 (5.0/56.0/39.0)
404AR-125/143a/134a (44.0/52.0/4.0)
405AR-22/152a/142b/C318 (45.0/7.0/5.5/42.5)
406AR-22/600a/142b (55.0/4.0/41.0)
407AR-32/125/134a (20.0/40.0/40.0)
407BR-32/125/134a (10.0/70.0/20.0)
407CR-32/125/134a (23.0/25.0/52.0)
407DR-32/125/134a (15.0/15.0/70.0)
407ER-32/125/134a (25.0/15.0/60.0)
407FR-32/125/134a (30.0/30.0/40.0)
408AR-125/143a/22 (7.0/46.0/47.0)
409AR-22/124/142b (60.0/25.0/15.0)
409BR-22/124/142b (65.0/25.0/10.0)
410AR-32/125 (50.0/50.0)
410BR-32/125 (45.0/55.0)
411AR-1270/22/152a) (1.5/87.5/11.0)
411BR-1270/22/152a (3.0/94.0/3.0)
412AR-22/218/143b (70.0/5.0/25.0 k
413AR-218/134a/600a (9.0/88.0/3.0)
414AR-22/124/600a/142b (51.0/28.5/4.0/16.5)
414BR-22/124/600a/142b (50.0/39.0/1.5/9.5)
415AR-22/152a (82.0/18.0)
415BR-22/152a (25.0/75.0)
416AR-134a/124/600 (59.0/39.5/1.5)
417AR-125/134a/600 (46.6/50.0/3.4)
417BR-125/134a/600 (79.0/18.3/2.7)
417CR-125/134a/600 (19.5/78.8/1.7)
418AR-290/22/152a (1.5/96.0/2.5)
419AR-125/134a/E170 (77.0/19.0/4.0)
419BR-125/134a/E170 (48.5/48.0/3.5)
420AR-134a/142b (88.0/12.0)
421AR-125/134a (58.0/42.0)
421BR-125/134a (85.0/15.0)
422AR-125/134a/600a (85.1/11.5/3.4)
422BR-125/134a/600a (55.0/42.0/3.0)
422CR-125/134a/600a (82.0/15.0/3.0)
422DR-125/134a/600a (65.1/31.5/3.4)
422ER-125/134a/600a (58.0/39.3/2.7)
423A134a/227ea (52.5/47.5)
424AR-125/134a/600a/600/601a (50.5/47.0/0.9/1.0/0.6)
425AR-32/134a/227ea (18.5/69.5/12)
426AR-125/134a/600/601a (5.1/93.0/1.3/0.6)
427AR-32/125/143a/134a (15.0/25.0/10.0/50.0)
428AR-125/143a/290/600a (77.5/20.0/0.6/1.9)
429AR-E170/152a/600a (60.0/10.0/30.0)
430AR-152a/600a (76.0/24.0)
431AR-290/152a (71.0/29.0)
432AR-1270/E170 (80.0/20.0)
433AR-1270/290 (30.0/70.0)
433BR-1270/290 (5.0/95.0)
433CR-1270/290 (25.0/75.0)
435AR-E170/152a (80.0/20.0)
436AR-290/600a (56.0/44.0)
436BR-290/600a (52.0/48.0)
437AR-125/134a/600/601 (19.5/78.5/1.4/0.6)
438AR-32/125/134a/600/601a (8.5/45.0/44.2/1.7/0.6)
439AR-32/125/600a (50.0/47.0/3.0)
440AR-290/134a/152a (0.6/1.6/97.8)
441AR-170/290/600a/600 (3.1/54.8/6.0/36.1)
442AR-32/125/134a/152a/227ea (31.0/31.0/30.0/3.0/5.0)
443AR-1270/290/600a (55.0/40.0/5.0)
444AR-32/152a/1234ze(E) (12.0/5.0/83.0)
445AR-744/134a/1234ze(E) (6.0/9.0/85.0)

Refrigerant Composition (Mass % )
500R-12/152a (73.8/26.2)
501R-22/12 (75.0/25.0)
502R-22/115 (48.8/51.2)
503R-23/13 (40.1/59.9)
504R-32/115 (48.2/51.8)
505R-12/31 (78.0/22.0)
506R-31/114 (55.1/44.9)
507AR-125/143a (50.0/50.0)
508AR-23/116 (39.0/61.0)
508BR-23/116 (46.0/54.0)
509AR-22/218 (44.0/56.0)
510AR-E170/600a (88.0/12.0)
511AR-290/152a (95.0/5.0)
512AR-134a/152a (5.0/95.0)



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US EPA Targets High-GWP Refrigerants in SNAP Proposal

US EPA Targets High-GWP Refrigerants in SNAP Proposal

R-134a, -404A, and -507 Face Proposed Use Restrictions in 2016

The US government is proposing to restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants R-134a, -404A and -507 in certain new and retrofit retail food applications.

On Aug. 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published “40 CFR Part 82 Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Change of Listing Status for Certain Substitutes Under the Significant New Alternatives Policy Program; Proposed Rule” in the Federal Register.

The rule deems certain HFC refrigerants unacceptable in specific applications on or after Jan. 1, 2016. If implemented, the ruling would impact:

• R-507 and -404A for “new and retrofit retail food refrigeration (including stand-alone equipment, condensing units, direct supermarket systems, and indirect supermarket systems) and new and retrofit vending machines.”

• R–227ea, –407B, –421B, –422A, –422C, –422D, –428A, and –434A for “new and retrofit retail food refrigeration (including direct supermarket systems and indirect supermarket systems).”

• R-134a “and certain other HFC refrigerant blends for new stand-alone retail food refrigeration and new vending machines.”

A Proposal for Now

The proposal is just that — a proposal. The agency is accepting comments through Oct. 6, after which it would issue a final ruling. The proposal is based on concerns about the perceived high-global warming potential (GWP) of the listed refrigerants. All are used within the retail food sector, where leak rates for equipment can be as high as 30 percent, although that sector has made significant strides in recent years to reduce those rates.

The proposal is also based on the EPA’s contention that acceptable alternatives are available. These include low-GWP HFCs, hydrocarbons (HCs), and CO?.

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