First and foremost please note that refrigerant is a commodity and prices can change wildly from week to week. It all depends on demand and any market surprises. Think of refrigerant as oil. You always hear about how much a barrel of oil is in the news and see how fast it can change. Refrigerant is very similar and fluctuates accordingly… especially in very hot summers.
With that being said let’s look at the pricing on R-410A refrigerant. 410A is still fairly new to the market so the price is still fairly low compared to it’s predecessor R-22. If you have an R-22 unit expect to pay $300.00 for a thirty pound cylinder. Whereas if you have a newer 410A unit the price on a cylinder is only about $85-$90. That price is for a twenty five pound cylinder, rather than thirty, but it is still significantly cheaper than R-22. R-410A’s pricing has stayed rather stable over the past few years. I have seen it go from about $80.00 up to about $100.00 a cylinder, but for the most part it stays pretty flat.
Going off of the $90.00 price for a twenty-five pound cylinder we can find the cost per pound relatively easy. $90.00 divided by twenty-five pounds equals out to $3.60per pound of refrigerant. Now I have seen multiple air conditioning repair companies quote upwards to $60.00 a pound on R410A. Now they need to have their markup, but that just seems crazy.
Now let’s find out how many pounds of refrigerant you need. Most home air conditioning units are between one to five tons. The rule of thumb is two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton on your machine. (It is important to note that the two to four pounds per ton is the standard, but you should always check for the exact requirements on your unit. Each unit and each manufacturer is different and it is always best to follow their instructions to the T.)
So, to do an example let’s say you have a three ton unit that you are looking to completely refill with refrigerant. The below formula will give you a rough estimate on what you will be needing and approximately how much it will cost you.
($3.60 a pound *(3 ton unit * 4 pounds of refrigerant per ton))
($3.60 a pound*(12 pounds of refrigerant) = $43.20 for a complete fill up.
That being said most air conditioning companies will charge much higher than this. You are paying for their expertise, their labor, and their markup on the refrigerant. If you wanted to buy the refrigerant yourself and save some money you could. I would recommend shopping for a twenty-five pound cylinder on either Amazon or on E-Bay. As of June, 2015 you do NOT need to be registered to purchase 410A, so anyone can purchase. You most likely won’t end up using an entire cylinder of 410A but you will still be saving money and now have some as back up just in case you need it again.
Refrigerant is a commodity and prices can change wildly from week to week. It all depends on demand and any market surprises. Think of refrigerant as oil. You always hear about how much a barrel of oil is in the news and see how fast it can change. Refrigerant is very similar and fluctuates accordingly… especially in very hot summers.
That being said as of today (June, 2015) R-22 is averaging about $300.00 per thirty pound cylinder. The $300 per cylinder comes from purchasing it one cylinder at a time. You can typically do this via Amazon or E-Bay as well as other online sites. So, going off of the $300 price for thirty pound cylinder we are looking at $300/30 equaling out to $10.00 per pound of refrigerant. (Please note that if you are trying to purchase R-22 for personal use that you will need to be 608 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. Click here for more details.)
The rule of thumb is two to four pounds of refrigerant per one ton of your unit. You should always check the specifications of your machine, but for the most part the two to four pound guideline will give you a good estimate. Most home air conditioning units are between one ton and five tons. Anything over five tons is considered a commercial grade unit.
So, with that in mind if you have a two ton system than you would need eight pounds of refrigerant to completely refill your unit. (Two tons times four pounds.) Eight pounds of refrigerant times the cost we found above per pound of $10.00 equals $80.00 to completely refill your air conditioning unit.
Now if you have a technician from an ac company come out there is obviously going to be markup on the refrigerant, but it pays to know exactly what the cost is and what to expect. If you’re being quoted $200-$300 to fill up a one ton or two tons system there is something wrong.
R-22 is being phased out as we speak, so every year that goes by the price of R-22 will go up. In 2010 the phase out begin, in 2015 the quantity and production as reduced, and in 2020 it will be phased out entirely.
Over the next few years I could see R-22 getting over $500 a cylinder and just keep on climbing from there. If you have an old R-22 unit running today you may consider switching over to R-410A in the near future. 410A is much cheaper and is overall more efficient than it’s R-22 counterpart. (I switched over this spring and have seen a significant difference in my energy bills using 410A.)
As everyone knows R-22 was phased out in 2010, production was scaled back in 2015, and it will be completely phased out in 2020. With these phase outs occurring over the past five years the price of R-22 Refrigerant has sky rocketed to right at about three hundred dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. With that high of a price point there is bound to be opportunity for profit. Well, a few refrigerant manufacturing/distributing companies started marketing an alternative to R-22 called R-22a.
Now, it’s called R-22a, but what it really is R-290… or propane. You know, the stuff you use on your grill to light the FIRE for your burgers. Now propane as a refrigerant isn’t a new idea, in fact it’s being used in various applications outside of the United States. The Problem being these old units that take R-22 are not being retro-fitted to take R-290. The companies pushing this product are advertizing it as a direct replacement for R-22. No retrofitting needed. So, you can begin to see a problem here. The machine is not meant to take propane but yet we’re just dumping it in and hoping for the best.
The appeal of R-22a is the price. I did a quick Google search and found some R22a being sold on E-bay for $119.00 a jug. Now that’s quite the difference compared to the $295-$330 a jug you would pay for a cylinder of R22. E-Bay shows you how many have been recently sold and I can see by glancing at it that there were fifty five units sold in recent weeks. This is disheartening as the consumer is not only purchasing the wrong refrigerant but they are also putting themselves in harms way. In case you were wondering, propane has a high flammability rate. Especially if it is being used in an improper application. It’s a recipe for disaster, especially for a laymen.
The Environmental Protection Agency
Last year the EPA put out a press release stating this very danger of using R-22a. (The release can be found here.) The press release pretty much says what I said above. The EPA has NOT approved the R22a to be used in R-22 built machines. If the EPA has not approved the alternative refrigerant through their SNAP program then a company who sells that product is in violation of the Federal Clean Air Act. (Trust me, you don’t want to do that!)
The EPA has been going after violators that are selling R-22a over the past couple years. I did a little digging and found a few examples of formal notifications sent to two different companies:
Just last month Enviro-Safe refrigerants was fined $300,000 for violating the clean air act by selling non-approved hydrocarbons. (R-22a being one of them. ) I wrote about this last month as well and the article can be found here. Enviro-Safe claimed that they were in the right and did not violate any laws.
One other thing to complicate matters even more is that earlier this year the EPA’s SNAP program approved new alternative refrigerants for use. One of those alternative refrigerants was none other than R-290. (Propane) So, now it CAN be used legally, but with the below catch:
“This refrigerant may be used only in new equipment specifically designed and clearly identified for the refrigerant–i.e., none of these substitutes may be used as a conversion or “retrofit” refrigerant for existing equipment” (Source)
Confused yet? To put it simply, R-290 or R-22a can be sold and used on NEW units, but if a company is caught actively selling/targeting the old R-22 units they would be in violation of the Clean Air Act and will have the wrath of the federal goverment coming down on them. Just ask Enviro-Safe refrigerants if you don’t believe me!
I’m sure that most trained technicians and companies are not falling for the R-22a trap and jumping at the lower cost and potential savings. This article is mainly targeted towards the do it yourselfers who are looking to purchase refrigerant for a small job. Putting in R-22a in your R-22 unit can be costly. Not only with potential total loss of your unit but it could also cause property damage due to an unintended explosion or it could even cause bodily harm/death. Doesn’t seem like it’ worth saving a couple hundred bucks.
I’m not a fan of big government. Never have been. But, I believe that the EPA is in the right here. I find it ridiculous that I can go on E-Bay right now and buy myself a cylinder of R-22a and have it at my doorstep in a couple days. You think the EPA would be watching for this online and be contacting E-Bay or the seller with a cease and desist. Maybe they are, and they are just building their case. Who knows.
In the mean time keep your eye out and if you see R-22a being marketed stay far away. It’s not worth the safety risk or the EPA risk.
It really depends on where you are at in the world. If you live within the European Union you know that 134a was phased out back in 2011 for all new model vehicles and it will be phased out completely from all vehicles 2017. The preferred replacement in the EU is the new HFO refrigerant 1234YF. (Unless you’re in Germany!)
If you are located in the United States then you don’t have too much to worry about, yet. I say yet as just last year (2014) the three North American Countries (United States, Mexico, & Canada.) filed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The filed amendment would add all HFC refrigerants to the mandatory phase out that CFCs and HCFCS went through. The amendment did not pass in 2014, mainly due to no votes by China and India.
In 2015 there was a change of heart by India and China. India filed a similar amendment that the United States filed in 2014 to phase out HFCs across the world and China said that they would be in favor of such amendment as well. This clears the path to a yes vote on the amendment at the end of 2015. The only remaining opposition of the HFC phase out was the middle east, but with China and India aboard I see no reason why this amendment won’t pass.
So, to answer your question. If you are in the US there is no set date on when 134a will be completely phased out. Some vehicle manufacturers have already begun using 1234YF instead of 134a. (General Motors for one.) Not to mention that the Obama administration is actively pushing to lower the usage of all HFC refrigerants. (This includes 134a, R410A, and R404A.)
If I was to put a year on when the 134 phase out process will begin in the United States I would say 2017-2018. The amendment is expected to be approved towards the end of this year and then I believe the new regulations and phase out protocols will be initiated the following year in 2017.
One thing to note is that if and when an amendment to ban HFCs does pass it will not be an on/off switch approach. Governments of the world aren’t just going to flip it to off and ban all 134a instantly. History has shown us that they will schedule the phase out over ten to fifteen years. The intention here is to cause as little pain as possible for manufacturers, suppliers, and businesses. So, if and when it does pass you don’t need to panic. It will be a gradual phase out just as R-12 and R-22 was. You will have plenty of time to prepare and retrofit.
In the European Union the final date of any 134a vehicle usage is 2017. Here in the states I would predict our phase-out to begin in 2017 and that our final date would be 2025-2026. The other HFC refrigerants would follow soon after 134a.
Man stole 150 cylinders of R-22 Refrigerant from a Norfolk, VA distributor.
Man Steals 150 Jugs of R-22
Earlier this month a man broke into a Norfolk, VA refrigerant distributor’s facility and helped himself to one-hundred and fifty jugs of R-22 refrigerant. The news article can be found here, but there isn’t too much to read as cops don’t have much to go off of. No mention of how he transported it or moved it off site. It couldn’t have been easy moving thirty pound cylinders over a hundred times.
I’m mainly just shocked by the amount that this guy stole and that it was R-22 Refrigerant. That stuff isn’t cheap. Why couldn’t it have been R-410A? R-22 sells for $300-$315 a cylinder today. So, assuming he can sell all of that stolen product he stands to make $47,250 in profit. I’m starting to see why he thought it was worth his time. But, this guy could be an idiot as well and doesn’t know that he’s sitting on a gold mine.
I feel bad for the distributor though. That is a hell of a loss to take a hit on. I’m hoping that they have some kind of physical inventory insurance that will cover their loss.
Either way I thought I would share this article. Oh, and if you happen to live near Norfolk, VA and come across a shady looking dude looking to sell you one-hundred and fifty jugs of R-22 from the back of his box truck I would back away slowly and call the cops. Get his license plate if you could.
Enviro-Safe Refrigerants Fined $300,000 by the EPA
Enviro-Safe, a refrigerant manufacturer in Perkin, IL, was fined $300,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency this month due to them selling non-approved flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants. The refrigerants in question were hydrocarbon alternatives to R-22 and R-502. Enviro-Safe has them listed as ES R-22a and ES R-502a.
With the EPA’s SNAP program all alternative refrigerants need to be approved by the Federal Government before they can be sold and used in the United States. Enviro-Safe was supplying a viable alternative to the O-Zone depleting R-22 and R-502 but the alternative refrigerants did not go through the proper government approvals and Enviro-Safe received the hefty fine of $300,000 and was ordered to no longer sell, market, or advertize the two alternative refrigerants. They will also have to notify every customer they have sold to by mail that the refrigerants that they sold to them are flammable, that they have not been approved by the EPA, and that they may be dangerous to use.
There are two different sides of this story, one from the EPA and one from Enviro-Safe. It’s up to you who you believe, but I’m more inclined to believe the private company over the Federal Government.
The EPA claims that Enviro-Safe was knowingly selling non-approved refrigerants for years to various customers across the United States. Enviro-Safe only stopped selling after the court order from the EPA and the Department of Justice. According to the EPA Enviro-Safe violated the Clean Air Act, violated Federal Law, and put it’s customers in danger by selling unapproved flammable refrigerant. The article from the EPA’s side can be found by clicking here.
Now let’s hear Enviro-Safe’s side of the story. Their vice president did an interview with the local Perkin newspaper and he painted a whole different story. (The article can be found here.) According to their vice president, Randy Price, Enviro-Safe has been in full compliance with the EPA and the Clean Air Act for years and has not had any issues or complaints from the government in it’s past. Out of a precautionary measure Enviro-Safe voluntarily decided to stop selling their R-22 and R-502 alternative last year, before any government interference.
Randy believes that the EPA investigation and fine was actually caused by Enviro-Safe’s competition complaining that they could not compete against their alternative refrigerants. Nothing like using the government to hurt/eliminate your competition. The only reason Enviro-Safe is not fighting this in court is that they felt that paying the fine would overall be cheaper than going through a lengthy legal battle with the government. After all, even if they are completely in the right they still have a chance of losing and having to pay even more.
I’ve never been a big fan of big government and Federal oversight but you cannot hope to fight something like this. If you are violating Federal Law, or skirting on the edge of violating the law, it is not worth it. Your profit margin may be much bigger but it will come back to bite you. I’m not sure how big of a company Enviro-Safe is but I wish them the best and hope that they can recover fully from this hefty fine. Enviro-Safe’s company website can be found by clicking here. (Let’s try to support them!)
Refrigerant Pricing Predictions - What will the year bring?
2015 Refrigerant Price Per Pound Predictions
I did a post on 2015 refrigerant predictions last November and figured I would do another post predicting this summer’s pricing as well as the fall and even into 2016. After all, it’s been six months since my last prediction post and a lot has changed. So, what is the price per pound on refrigerant for 2015? What changes are coming? What should you look out for?
The one thing to remember is that refrigerants are a commodity and pricing can jump or dive in a day’s time. The best analogy that I can make is that it is similar to the price of oil. Some days it’s at eighty dollars a barrel and other days it’s at fifty a barrel.
You never really know what’s going to happen… but you can predict using knowledge of the industry and what has been happening in the market. Or, you can just pull out your crystal ball!
Let’s start with the most complicated one, R-134a. R-134a is pretty much the standard refrigerant on any automobile application including cars, buses, trucks, and everything else. Over the past couple years the price on R-134a has maintained around $65-$80 a jug when buying a pallet at a time. (A pallet is forty jugs.) This price has really been the standard since I’ve been in the industry which is about eight years.
Last year in early 2014 things changed. In late 2013 a company called MexiChem filed a lawsuit at the International Trade Commission. (MexiChem is one of the largest refrigerant manufacturers in the United States. Honeywell and DuPont being the others.) MexiChem’s lawsuit stated that the Chinese product being imported into the United States was being brought in at such a low price that it was making MexiChem and other North American manufacturers not competitive in the market place.
To give an example, today you could buy a container of R-134a refrigerant from China for about $45-$50 a jug. Considering that most American made product is being bought for $65-80 a jug that leaves quite a difference in price. The distributors of this Chinese product could sell at $60 a jug and take all of the North American manufacturers’ business with ease.
Supposedly, the Chinese goverment was also subsidizing the refrigerant before it came into the United States. So, if the actual cost to manufacture the refrigerant was $35 the Chinese government would give subsides to the Chinese manufacturer and lower their price another $5.00 per jug. Not only are we dealing with imported product but now we are dealing with goverment funded imports. I can see why MexiChem was complaining.
The proposed fix in MexiChem’s lawsuit was to have the International Trade Commission levy heavy tariffs on the imported R-134a product. As I said previously the lawsuit was filed in late 2013 and was reviewed at the end of the first quarter in 2014. This is where things got interesting. It looked like the Trade Commission was going to sign with MexiChem and issue the tariffs. This sent a panic throughout the industry and caused the price of R-134a to skyrocket in week. I remember the week well. We were buying at around $70 a jug and then all of a sudden it jumped to $110 a jug. THEN it jumped to $145 a jug… and stayed there.
The price jumped as people realized that if these tariffs were issued what was to stop the big three refrigerant manufacturers from raising their cost even higher across the market? If the tariffs put the Chinese product at $90 a cylinder why not raise the American product to $90 a cylinder and make a bunch more profit? A lot of people panicked and bought up as much product as they could before the price raised even higher which in turn caused the price to keep climbing. The price stayed above $100 pretty much all summer, but it did start to steadily decline and eventually fall below $100 again towards the end of fall.
In November, 2014 the Trade Commission came to a ruling on the lawsuit. They ruled against MexiChem stating that the Chinese product was not harming the United States refrigeration industry. I wrote an article about this back in November and it can be found by clicking here. Needless to say, MexiChem wasn’t happy. They thought it over for a few months and in January of 2015 they appealed the Trade Commission’s ruling hoping for a different outcome in 2015. The Trade Commission’s next ruling is predicted towards the end of 2015 or early 2016. It is anyone’s guess as to what they will decide.
HFC Phase Outs
On top of the pending lawsuit on R-134a there is also the inevitable phase out of 134a to consider. R-134a is an HFC class refrigerant and is widely believed to be the next big phase out in the United States. It was already phased out in the European Union and is being pushed for phase out in the US already by the Obama Administration. Unlike it’s CFC/HCFC cousins 134a is not being phased out due to it’s Chlorine content, instead it is being phased out due to it’s high Global Warming Potential (GWP). R-134a has a GWP of 1,300 and it’s new alternative refrigerant 1234YF has a GWP of 4. The concern here is not the O-Zone but of Global Warming. Every time 134a is released into the atmosphere it contributes to GreenHouse Gases and Global Warming.
Europe is always ahead of the game when it comes to climate regulations and phased out 134a a few years ago and replaced it with the new HFO-1234YF refrigerant. Here in America 134a is still widely used for most automobiles but 1234YF is gaining traction on newer vehicle models such as General Motors. It is only a matter of time before 134a slowly goes away and is replaced with the new 1234YF.
Oh, and did I mention that there is an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that is being pushed by the North American countries, the European Union, China, and India to phase out ALL HFC refrigerants? Yes, I said all. That means 404A, 410A, and 134a. Nothing has been finalized yet, but it is expected to pass during this winter’s climate summit in Dubai.
With all of the above information on 134a it is surprising to see that the price per jug in 2015 has actually fallen back down to the $65-$80 range again. The price slowly began to fall over the 2014/2015 winter months and now with this cold spring that we are having it is still maintaining right around the ‘usual’ price. For the rest of 2015 I would predict the price to stay relatively flat. My reasoning is as follows:
The Trade Commission will not be ruling on MexiChem’s lawsuit until the end of the year. I do not foresee this affecting pricing until 2016 if it affects it all.
The HFC phaseout meeting will occur at the end of the year as well, but even if this passes it is still a twenty to thirty year timeline. It will not happen overnight and I do not feel like there will be a panic if this passes.
Lastly, it’s been a cold spring where I’m at in the MidWest. I don’t know about your side of the country but it’s been a nice wet spring so the demand for HVAC hasn’t hit yet. Who knows what summer will bring though.
In conclusion I predict we’ll stay right around the $65-$80 per cylinder for the remainder of 2015. Although, 2016 is completely wide open as all of these open issues will come to fruition.
R-410A is slowly becoming the standard refrigerant for home and commercial buildings. If you own an air conditioning unit from the year 2010 or greater chances are it is taking R-410a as it’s refrigerant. I actually just had a new unit installed for my home and I have to say it is SOOO much more efficient than the old R-22 unit. My monthly bills were cut by about thirty percent!
On to the pricing. I’ve been watching R-410a for the past couple years and it’s price really hasn’t changed much at all. It’s been hovering at around $60-$70 per cylinder when purchasing a pallet. Back in 2013 I sold 410A over Amazon for a few months and my price hardly every changed. 410A is still ‘new’ to the industry and is not being widely used at the moment. All of the older AC units are using the CFC R-22. But, as time goes on and the years pass R-410A will become more mainstream through out the country and I would predict price to go up over the years.
That being said I do have to mention that 410A is an HFC refrigerant, just like 134a. You know what that means. It is being proposed to be phased out at this year’s climate summit. Many many countries are pushing for all HFC’s to be phased out and this is another one that falls into that category. The problem is with 410A there is not a mainstream alternative, yet. There are some companies experimenting with varying types of refrigerant such as the new HFO refrigerants, Carbon Dioxide, or even Propane. So far nothing has come out on top yet.
For 2015 I don’t see much at all changing on R-410A. As I said before it’s still a fairly new refrigerant and when the phase outs of HFCs do come I predict 410A to be the last of the HFCs to go. With 134a there is already an alternative HFO refrigerant and with 404A there is already an alternative HFO refrigerant. With 410A there really isn’t one… yet.
In conclusion I predict 410A to stay steady at the $60-$70 per cylinder range.
R-404A isn’t as big as 134a, R-22, or 410A but it definitely has it’s purpose. Ever been in a supermarket? Of course you have. All those grocery store freezers, those ice machines, vending machines, and even transport refrigeration all use 404A. So, you as a homeowner may not have a need for 404A but it is definitely everywhere you go.
As far as future and pricing R-404A is pretty much the same as 410A. There aren’t any active lawsuits on it, there aren’t any BIG changes coming, and it is an HFC refrigerant so it is expected to be phased out over the next few years. It’s just about the same price as 410A as well. 404A hovers around $75-$85 a cylinder when buying a pallet and not much higher when just buying one jug at a time. (Amazon and E-Bay are at about $90-$95 a cylinder at a time.)
The one thing to note with 404A is that there is now an alternative HFO refrigerant known as R-452A. But, it’s not ‘THE’ alternative. It’s a poor man’s alternative. R-404A has a Global Warming Potential of 3,943. The new R-452A has a GWP of 2,140. As you can see it’s quite the reduction in GWP but compared to the 134a alternative, 1234YF, it is nowhere near good enough. 1234YF has a GWP of 4 and 452A is still way up over 2,000.
Regardless of that, ThermoKing and Carrier have begun building their new refrigerated trucks using R-452A rather than 404A. Not only that, but Coca Cola has begun switching it’s vending machines away from 404A over to Carbon Dioxide refrigerants, or R-744. Companies are leaving 404A behind in droves and it’s only going to increase as time goes on.
I actually predict the price of 404A to go down as we go through the summer and fall of 2015. Nothing crazy here, maybe five dollars a cylinder. It just seems that with all of these companies switching away from 404A that the demand is going to crash and the price is going to go down. Just be ready for the phase out of 404A in the next few years as we may see prices rise again.
In conclusion I predict 404A to go down about $5.00 a cylinder in the 2015 summer and fall. Price would be around $65-$75 a cylinder for one pallet.
R-22 was the end all be all of refrigerant for fifty years. It was THE refrigerant used in home and commercial buildings. It was also one of the first types of refrigerants to be phased out via the Montreal Protocol. The phase out of R-22 was due to the Chlorine that it contained in it’s chemical composition. Chlorine when released in the atmosphere damages the O-Zone layer and it was found in the 1980s that the constant use of R-12 and R-22 had caused a hole to form in the O-Zone. Numerous countries banded together and formed the Montreal Protocol to ban O-Zone depleting substances such as R-22.
In 2010 the ban of R-22 began. The first step was that NO new machines manufactured or imported in the United States could take R-22. The new machines had to take an alternative O-Zone friendly refrigerant. The default replacement that was chosen was R-410A. When the 2010 phase out hit the price of R-22 climbed substantially and has held steady at about $290-$300 a cylinder for a pallet. Even quite a bit higher when buying a single jug at about $380-$400 a cylinder.
In 2015 there was another step in the phase out of R-22. This step involved the United States to cut ninety percent of it’s consumption and imports of R-22. In November of 2014 I predicted that the new 2015 reduction would cause the prices of R-22 to go even higher, but surprisingly that did not happen. At least not yet.
The Montreal Protocol required the U.S. to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 35% below the U.S. baseline cap. As of January 1, 2003, EPA banned production and import of HCFC-141b, the most ozone-destructive HCFC. This action allowed the United States to meet its obligations under the Montreal Protocol. EPA was able to issue 100% of company baseline allowances for production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b.
January 1, 2010:
The Montreal Protocol requires the U.S. to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 75% below the U.S. baseline. Allowance holders may only produce or import HCFC-22 to service existing equipment. Virgin R-22 may not be used in new equipment. As a result, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system manufacturers may not produce new air conditioners and heat pumps containing R-22.
January 1, 2015:
The Montreal Protocol requires the U.S. to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 90% below the U.S. baseline.
January 1, 2020:
The Montreal Protocol requires the U.S. to reduce its consumption of HCFCs by 99.5% below the U.S. baseline. Refrigerant that has been recovered and recycled/reclaimed will be allowed beyond 2020 to service existing systems, but chemical manufacturers will no longer be able to produce R-22 to service existing air conditioners and heat pumps.
R-22 is going away, rather you like it or not. Every year it gets more expensive. I wrongly predicted that the price would go up to around $500 a jug in 2015 due to the reduction in supply but that is not to say that the price won’t still go up. After all, the inventory is shrinking and there is still a large amount of R-22 units running in the United States. There will be a demand even with this reduction in production.
In conclusion I predict R-22’s price to rise, but not substantially over 2015. At the end of 2015 I can see R-22 being bought at about $330-$350 a cylinder for pallet and about $420-$430 for individual cylinders.
1234YF is the new HFO replacement for R-134a automobile applications. It is seeing widespread usage in Europe but it is still very rare to see in the United States. There are a few manufacturers using it today on their new models of cars but you will begin to see 1234YF units more and more over 2015 and in future years. Remember, 134a is going away and 1234YF is the recommended replacement. The only other viable alternative at this time is Carbon Dioxide units, but these are still being experimented with at this time.
Here’s the downside. The price of 1234YF is VERY high. Now, I’m not sure why the price is so high. My guess would be either the supply is extremely low at this time, or the manufacturing process is a lot more complicated compared to it’s HFC counterparts. Today the price on a ten pound jug of 1234YF is sitting around $700 a jug. (I don’t even know anybody buying pallets of this stuff yet.) The hope is that this price will begin decline over the years as it becomes more mainstream through the United States.
1234YF is still fairly new to the US market and is seeing a very high introductory price. I do not see this price changing much, if at all, in 2015. My prediction is that it will stay right at $700 a jug give or take $20 higher or lower.
If you are interested in purchasing 1234YF refrigerant then I would highly recommend visiting Refrigerant Depot out of Orlando, Florida by visiting this link.They are an official Honeywell Refrigerants distributor and will provide the product right to your door.
Just remember that refrigerants are a commodity and the pricing changes daily. A few tips before I leave on buying refrigerant:
If you can, buy product in the dead of winter. Prices are cheap and vendors want to unload their excess product. You can usually get quite a deal.
Watch the market and look for incoming phase outs. You never know when the price will skyrocket.
Don’t be afraid to sit on refrigerant inventory. It doesn’t go bad and you may end up saving yourself a fortune.
India along with the United States, Mexico, and Canada have all submitted amendments to phase out HFC refrigerants across industrial nations in the next twenty to twenty-five years. In industrial nations the goal is to only be using fifteen percent in 2035 of what we currently are using between 2013-2015. So, if we were using one-hundred tons of refrigerant in 2015 the goal for 2035 would be only using fifteen tons. This seems rather reasonable over a twenty year period, but work needs to begin now.
The proposed amendment is a little more lax for developing countries. Developing countries would still be held to that fifteen percent number but instead of 2035 as a goal year their goal is by 2050 and that fifteen percent would be measured off of their numbers from 2028-2030. The thinking is that these nations are still developing so they have not reached their full potential when it comes to HFC consumption.
In 2028-2030 the developing nations’ infrastructure would have been built up enough to rival some of the industrial nations. So, their progress won’t be seen for another twenty years after everyone else. Having this in for developing countries should help the less industrious countries not feel like they are being punished and may in fact buy votes from them and get this amendment passed without any major issues.
I posted a link above to the full in depth amendment proposal that India submitted but I’ll go ahead and do a quick summary here as well so you don’t have to dig through all of those pages of jargon and legal speak. Again, the amendment can be found by clicking here.
Here is what we have:
There are nineteen HFC refrigerants proposed to be phased out. This includes all of the popular ones such as R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, and many more.
HCFC/CFC refrigerants still take priority over HFCs. So, if you HAVE to use one or the other it is preferred that you use HFCs.
Financial Mechanisms will be involved to compensate those companies/people involved in loss of business. I’m not entirely sure where that money will come from, but hey it’s in the amendment. Some of the compensation benefits would go towards:
Compensation for loss profit at HFC plants and factories.
Full conversion costs –
This will include the conversion of a HFC production plan over to more GWP friendly refrigerants.
Funding for the service sector that will include training, education, and development of service personnel on the new lower GWP alternative refrigerants.
As I stated above the goal year for developed countries is 2035, so twenty years from now and 2050 for the lesser developed countries.
The Montreal Protocol is a treaty that was signed all the way back in 1987. (I was just barely a year old at the time!) Back in the 80’s there was an alarm bell that went out due to the O-Zone layer being depleted at an increasingly fast rate. The O-Zone layer acts as a shield from the sun’s radiation and heat. Without it the sun could cause substantial damage to people, animals, and plants across the world. Not to mention warming the entire planet.
After years of research one of the biggest culprits in damaging the O-Zone was found to be the chemical Chlorine. When Chlorine gets into the atmosphere it attacks or depletes the O-Zone layer. After years of Chlorine being used daily the O-Zone layer began to form a hole. This caused widespread panic across the scientific community. The Montreal Protocol was formed to stop the use of Chlorine products and was signed in and ratified by over one-hundred and ninety countries. It is widely recognized as one of the most successful mufti-nation treaties in the world.
Guess what products were found to have Chlorine? You got it. Refrigerants such as CFCs and HCFCs. R-12, R-22, and R-502. The push was on to get these commonly used refrigerants banned across the world and banned fast!
R-12 was the first to go. R-12 was commonly used in most automotive and vehicle applications. If you had a vehicle from the 80s chances are it took R-12 gas for it’s refrigerant. R-12 was phased in 1994 and replaced with the HFCR-134a.
Next was R-502. It’s phase hit in 1995. R-502 wasn’t nearly as popular as R-12. It’s primary use was mainly for super market freezers, ice machines, and refrigerated transport. It was replaced with the HFCR-404A.
Last was R-22. R-22’s phaseout began in 2010. R-22 was used primarily for all home and commercial building air conditioners. It was extremely wide spread throughout the world and if your AC unit outside of your house is older than six years chances are you still have R-22 in use. R-22 will b completely phased out in 2020. It’s replacement is the HFCR-410A.
Are you seeing a pattern here? I am. It looks to me that we phased out of all of these scary CFC/HCFC refrigerants and replaced them with the new friendly HFCs. But wait! These HFCs aren’t so friendly after all. Turns out they’re just as bad as the CFCs that we just phased out. Except this time they don’t damage the O-Zone they just put out a ton of Global Warming Potential greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. So, now this O-Zone that we were protecting is shielding in all of this greenhouse gas from these new HFC refrigerants and is turn making the earth warmer.
So, here we go again. We’re going to ban a whole new type of refrigerants to save the environment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to saving the environment but it just seems like we’ve been throwing darts at a wall. Is there any real plan here? Or, are we just guessing and hoping that we’ll phase out the right refrigerant? Who would have thought that by phasing out the bad refrigerant we would bring in a whole new problem?
The worst of it is that we’re phasing out these HFCs under the Montreal Protocol. You know, the protocol that was specifically designed to phase out Chlorine products to save the O-Zone? Well, now we’re going to be using this same amendment to phase out HFCs refrigerants even though they have NOTHING to do with O-Zone depletion and that they do not contain Chlorine. Seems awfully fishy if you ask me.
But, no one wants to go through the work again of forming a new treaty and getting all of the countries to sign it. So, they just keep sticking amendments to the Montreal Protocol instead of going through the work and creating a new binding treaty in the United Nations.
Nothing has been finalized yet. Last year the North American countries tried to add this amendment to the Protocol but it was eventually stalled and did not end up getting passed. This year’s meeting is in Dubai and is set to take place in November. In the past the main resistance was from China and India but now that they are both on board the only resistance left in the world is middle eastern countries. Which is kind of comical if you think about it as the yearly meeting is being held in Dubai.
I’m not the most versed in United Nation/Montreal Protocol politics but from everything that I’ve read the amendment can’t really be stopped this year. On top of India and North American countries submitting an amendment it is widely speculated that the European Union will be submitting a formal amendment as well. So, the only opposition that you’re going to have is from the smaller countries in the Middle East. But at this point the momentum is leaning towards phase out and I don’t see much stopping it.
Greetings ladies and gentlemen! Today we will be taking the time to review Robinair’s TIF9010A refrigerant scale. The TIF9010A brings great scale performance and reliability in a compact and easily transferable case. It can weigh any refrigerant in the market today and boasts the greatest resolution in the industry. It can be found on Amazon.com or other online retailers as well.
While the scale’s price may seem high it is worth noting that it is significantly cheaper than most HVAC suppliers in your area. While this is not a top of the line model it will definitely get the job done and end up saving you money down the road. Everything that I have read shows that the scale will easily last above and beyond five years of steady use. There are reports and reviews of the unit being defective out of the box or that it stopped working after only a few months but in each of these cases it was an instance of receiving a defective product right out of the box. There is a two year warranty through Robinair that can be used in the off chance you receive one of these damaged units. (This is a rare occurrence though.)
The TIF9010A is extremely accurate in it’s measurements and allows you to measure in pounds, ounces, and kilograms. It has a maximum capacity of one-hundred and ten pounds. This should cover most, if not all, of your refrigerant cylinders. There were a few customers that complained that the maximum weight was not high enough but as I said before this isn’t the best that money can buy. In a good, better, best approach this unit falls into the better category. Many customers who bought this run a small business and have used this scale to weigh not only refrigerant but also mail, shipments, and many other things.
The scale is compact and easily portable. It also comes with a handheld reader for the technician to review instead of having to stare at the scale constantly. There are instances of customers complaining that the plastic hinges on the scale’s case fail and break after only a few years of use. (The scale still works fine, just the case.) There is no auto shut-off switch on this scale. So, if you leave it on it will stay on until the battery dies. I have seen people describe this as a detriment. They forget to shut the scale off and the battery dies over night. Others have said it’s a lifesaver as they don’t have to reach over and turn the thing on over and over again throughout the day. To each their own I guess.
As always before I recommend or review anything on RefrigerantHQ.com I like to dig through all of the reviews and feedback that I can find on the web. Checking on Amazon I found that the scale had over two-hundred reviews with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5. The one star and two star reviews that I read through all look to be the case of receiving a defective product. Luckily, as I mentioned above there is that two year warranty to be considered if you are unlucky enough to get a dud. Along with looking for reviews I also stumbled upon this official fact sheet from Robinair’s website that can be found by clicking here. This will answer any and all questions you would have no the scale itself.
Overall, I would feel very comfortable recommending this scale to my audience. It comes with the Robinair name that we are all familiar with. It’s a reliable versatile scale that will last you and your business for the next five years. If you are interested in purchasing please click here to buy from Amazon.com
As always thanks for reading and I hope that I was able to impact your buying decision!
DuPont Refrigerant Splits into New Chemours Company
DuPont refrigerants is no more. Let that sink in for a second. OK, ready? Instead of DuPont Refrigerant you now have Chemours Refrigerant.
In 2013 DuPont announced that they would be separating their refrigerant division into a completely new company called ‘The Chemours Company.’ This new company would be completely independent and separate from DuPont. In the official announcement in 2013 the completion date was estimated around first or second quarter 2015 and so far they have lived up to their goals. A timeline of Chemours’ history and their official website can be found by clicking here.
Even though Chemours is a new company and could jokingly be called a ‘start-up,’ it is nowhere near a start up. They will be starting their first year with guaranteed seven billion in sales, with a presence in over one-hundred and thirty countries, as well as having all of the former DuPont management at the reigns. Also, did I mention that this stat up has nine thousand employees already? Now if only my start up could get this kind of traction!
I was reading through their Frequently Asked Question section earlier today and it seemed pretty standard to be honest. If you’re interested the FAQs can be found by clicking here. The one thing to mention is that Chemours will not just be dealing with the refrigerant side of DuPont’s business but also with Titanium Technologies and Chemical Solutions. It’s pretty much all of their chemical divisions being merged into one separate company.
DuPont has a long history of splitting into various companies. For example, were you aware that Pierre DuPont helped fund General Motors in their beginning and was eventually the chairman of GM? DuPont and GM actually partnered together to come up with the first trademarked Refrigerant. DuPont led General Motors for nearly forty years but they were eventually forced to give up ownership of GM due to goverment anti-trust laws.
DuPont was also split up by the goverment in the early 1900s for their monopoly in the explosives industry after they purchased numerous smaller explosive companies over the course of a few years. Did I mention in the 1980s that DuPont purchased all of Conoco as well? At least with Conoco they weren’t forced to sell by the goverment. They sold their Conoco ownership in 1999 to another petroleum company.
Now, I can only guess as to why DuPont decided to split up their refrigerant and chemical division but given their track record of holding monopolies and eventually being split up maybe they just jumped the gun before the government intervened. Besides Honeywell what other major refrigerant manufacturers are there out there? You could count Mexichem here in the United States and there are a few here and there across the world but the two powerhouses are HoneyWell and now Chemours. Not many others can compete with their price and quality.
In essence this new Chemours company isn’t really going to change much within the industry. It’s the same people running it from DuPont, the same plants and manufacturers as DuPont, and you’re getting the same great quality that DuPont provided in years past.
The ONLY thing that I can predict changing over the next few months and years is that the DuPont name will eventually be phased out and you will begin to see the new Chemours name take place on all of their cylinders and tanks you purchase from them.
Even though nothing is really changing saying goodbye to DuPont refrigerants seems like the end of an era.
Late last year the Obama administration announced that they were partnering with various companies across the country in transitioning away from HFC refrigerants and instead using new climate friendly alternatives.
Now, this measure was voluntary. No one had to sign on, but I would assume the companies who did sign on did this for the good press. One of those companies that pledged to reduce their impact on the environment was Kroger.
Kroger, one of the world’s largest retailers, announced today that it will join U.S. EPA’s GreenChill program. Kroger, in joining GreenChill, commits to establishing a refrigerant inventory and set emissions reduction targets; using advanced refrigeration technologies in new and remodeled stores where feasible; collaborating across the industry to identify and share service and operational practices that reduce emissions. Kroger is committed to reducing climate-damaging refrigerant emissions and exploring new designs that reduce the potential for these emissions.
As you can see Kroger agreed to shrink their impact on the environment and to try new refrigerants. That meant doing away with R-404A and moving on to either HFOs or Natural Refrigerants.
The New Store
Well, Kroger has just now opened their first new store that uses strictly R-744, or Carbon Dioxide refrigerant. The new store is located in Holland, Michigan and a few press release articles can be found by clicking here and here.
They actually closed down two stores in this same city and replaced it with this giant new building. If you wanted to test CO2 this would be the place to do it. The building and the amount of units is massive.
Switching away from 404A over to R-744 is said to reduce Kroger’s Carbon Footprint by over forty percent for each store. This is quite the impact and it is supposed to save them on utility bills as well.
Now, even though this is the first store to open with CO2 I would imagine that many more are to come and existing stores may even be retrofitted. If Kroger is saving energy costs on the new refrigerant and they are in the good graces of the government why wouldn’t they switch more units over?
R-744 is a natural refrigerant that has been used for over one-hundred and fifty years. It really began to see widespread use in the early 1900s through 1920s but it eventually dissipated due to the Great Depression and due to the high pressure that CO2 operates under.
In recent years it has seen a new awakening mainly due to companies looking for alternatives to the climate damaging HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A.
R744 has many benefits over other common refrigerants:
It does not have any chlorine in it and thus does not damage the O-Zone layer.
It’s Global Warming Potential is 1. This is quite the difference when compared to R-134a’s GWP of 1,548.
It is non-toxic.
It is non-flammable.
It is far more efficient over it’s competitors.
The drawback of CO2 is the pressure it operates under. In the past CO2 was difficult to work with as the high pressure caused many applications and parts to fail routinely. In 2015 the technology has improved substantially and the high pressure can be accommodated more smoothly.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. HFCs are dying and will be phasing out soon. Sooner than you think. The question which refrigerant is going to prevail? Is it going to be the new HFOs that DuPont and Honeywell are working on or it will be the Natural Refrigerants such as CO2 and Propane? Time will tell.
Well, we saw this in Russia a few weeks ago. Russian custom authorities seized a full trailerload of R-22 disguised as R-134a at one of their docks. You can click here to read about that post. I didn’t see any follow up on rather they arrested the person responsible but I did just come across a new story from India where a business leader was importing R-22 from China and disguising it as R-134a.
Indian authorities had been searching for the mystery importer for three months and were finally able to narrow it down to ReFex Refrigerants out of Chennai India. Anil Jain was the alleged mastermind and was arrested by Indian authorities this week and is now awaiting trial.
The difference between this case and the former Russian case is that I believe in the Russian case the importer was selling the R-22 as R-22 and was just disguising it to get past import laws. With ReFex Refrigerants they were boxing and selling the R-22 refrigerant as R-134a. In my mind this is worse than the Russian case as using the wrong refrigerant could damage or even destroy his customer’s units, not to mention misleading your customers.
I’m wondering how many more of these cases are out there. How many people are making a lot of money skating past these laws? How many of these container shipments are checked? And lastly, is this happening in America as well?
We now have refrigerant shelves and racking available for your van/vehicle or for your warehouse through our Amazon and E-Bay partners. The products available are listed below. Go ahead and compare to other websites and you’ll see that the pricing is very competitive.
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Mounting kit included for connecting to any standard racking system.
Ideal for any HVAC vehicle, providing a safe solution for transporting refrigerant
https://refrigeranthq.com/ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and The E-Bay Partner Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com or E-Bay.com. We do not directly sell any Refrigerant, but rather provide information, knowledge, and explanations to the consumer.
Please note that Environmental Protection Agency law requires certain individuals to be licensed before purchasing some refrigerants. You will be required to provide your certificate number or declare the item will be resold to an EPA certified technician on certain types of Refrigerant. (R-410A & R-134A are excluded from this.)
There has been a big push over the past couple years to replace R-404A and other HFC refrigerants with alternatives. The push comes from HFCs having a larger Global Warming Potential, or GWP. GWP is compared against Carbon Dioxide which has a GWP of 1. R-404A has a GWP of 3,943. Obviously, there is quite the difference here and you can see the need to find an alternative to the high GWP R-404A.
When finding an alternative the goal is to find a drop in replacement rather than having to retrofit the entire system. This saves time, money, and headaches for the customer. DuPont has developed an alternative to R-404A that does just that. It is known as HFO R-452A. (DuPont’s brand name is Opteon XP44) The R-452A has a GWP of 2,140. It is by no means a miracle replacement as the GWP is still quite high, but it is cutting the GWP almost in half compared to 404A and it provides an easy transition.
Benefits of R-452A
Up to forty-five percent reduction in your company’s global warming potential contribution.
No loss of performance or reliability on your vehicles.
Refrigerant functions the same as R-404A.
Low operating cost.
No extra cost of ownership or retrofitting.
Company reputation – Be one of the first ones on the market to use the new environmentally friendly refrigerant.
Carrier and Thermo King Switching
Carrier and Thermo King announced in late 2014 that they would be switching their units over to R-452A in 2015. In fact just this month I was reading an article that Thermo King announced they sold their first R-452A unit to a customer in Spain. The article was from the Cooling Post and can be found by clicking here. Not only is Thermo King manufacturing new units with 452A but they are also offering consultation and assistance on switching their customer’s existing units over to 452A.
These switches are mostly taking place across Europe at this time but it’s only a matter of time before it becomes mainstream in the United States as well. Europe always seems to be ahead of the game when it comes to new and alternative refrigerants. Here in the States we like to have others test it out for us before we jump on!
It is speculated that HFO 452A is a placeholder refrigerant until the main manufacturers do a full scale switch over to CO2. Which would make sense since R-452A is still considered a very high on the Global Warming Potential scale. So, who knows how long R-452A will even be around until the next best thing comes out.
Well folks, the last big ball to drop has finally hit for HFCs. It’s only a matter of time now before they are phased out just as CFCs/HCFCs were. This Thursday India declared that they are in favor of phasing out HFC refrigerants and that they are in favor of adding an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that would regulate the phase out across the world.This was a huge development over the past few months as India was the biggest obstacle in getting HFC use banned.
One of India’s main reasons for resistance is that it was a developing nation and that it could not handle doing a mass transition away from HFCs. After-all, they had just finished a mass transition of CFCs to HFCs not too long ago. Now the world is telling them that HFCs are bad too and that they need to switch away from those as well. As a compromise with the rest of the world India declared that they would be in favor of phasing out HFCs but only if a fifteen-twenty year timeline comes into play. This would give India enough time to transition their infrastructure to accommodate the new alternative refrigerants.
This is very similar to the deal that was struck with China in late 2014. China agreed to phase out HFCs as well but only after twenty-five years of preparation. While the western governments hail this as progress it seems that they are getting the short end of the stick. We make all of these immediate promises to China/India and yet they do not deliver anything on their side until fifteen to twenty years later. Who is going to hold India or China to these promises when the time comes? We’ll see how this pans out.
Now, nothing officially has happened yet, but the world governments will meet in November for an annual climate meeting. In this meeting the amendment to the Montreal Protocol to ban HFCs will be introduced to the body. At this point with all of these new developments I see no reason why it will not pass. The only opposition that I am aware is Saudi Arabia and some other small middle eastern countries, but they have not had much of an impact in the past and I do not foresee them stalling any possible changes. Once it is passed the phase out of HFCs will be scheduled over the coming years. I predict R-134a being the first to be phased out, then R-404A, and R-410A last.
Well folks we’re already mid way into April and summer will be here before you know it. It’s always difficult to predict what the summer will bring. Will it be crazy hot this year, or mild like it was in 2014? How volatile will prices be?
The news on the refrigerant front has actually been pretty quiet so far this year. There have been no new bans or phase outs, although the United States EPA is pushing for voluntary phase out of HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-410A, and R-404A. These measures are strictly voluntary at this point in time so I do not foresee it affecting pricing this year. It could have a big impact in 2016 pricing though, so who knows!
HFO refrigerants, primarily 1234YF, will begin showing up more and more in newer vehicles. It’s already mainstream in the European Union and US auto manufacturers have begun using it on their vehicles as well. (Chrysler and GM to name a few.) It seems that HFOs and Natural Refrigerants are battling it out for the top prize. What will be standard in the future? HFOs or Naturals?
The only other major thing that I know of that is going on in the industry is the MexiChem lawsuit against Chinese imported R134a cylinders. MexiChem filed a lawsuit at the end of 2013 with the International Trade Commission stating that the imported Chinese product was being brought in at unfair prices and it was making difficult for United States manufacturers to compete. Well, they lost this lawsuit in a ruling by the trade commission made in late 2014. In January of 2015 MexiChem appealed the decision and another decision on the lawsuit is expected towards the end of 2015. Long story short, I do not see this having an impact on 2015 pricing. Depending on the ruling it could have a large impact in 2016, so we will see.
Other than that I wish everybody a HOT season with lots of customers! As always if you need any refrigerants such as R22, R404A, R410A, R134a; any tools such as leak detectors or refrigerant scales, or even refrigerant racks visit our store to browse our available products.
Russia has seized over twenty tons of R-22 imported in boxes of R-134a. R-22 was banned by the Montreal Protocol in 2010 and is scheduled to be phased out across the world by 2020. The production and importation of R-22 is strictly regulated and persons can face serious consequences if they do not abide by their country’s laws when it comes to importing R-22. In Russia it was decided that the production within the country would be enough quantity to handle the market so the Russian government banned all imports of R-22.
Whoever did this was looking to make a lot of money fast. Since R-22 was banned the price has sky rocketed to about $300 a cylinder. The product that Russian authorities found came from China where the price of R-22 is around $50 a cylinder. Obviously, you can see the temptation here. This smuggler brought in an entire trailerload of R-22, so you’re looking at twenty pallets of forty cylinders each, or 800 cylinders. 800 cylinders at $250 profit a cylinder and you’re looking at $200,000 profit. Not too shabby if I say so myself… but I don’t have much sympathy for the person who imported this in. They knew they were breaking the law and attempted to disguise the product as Ozone friendly R-134a. They saw the dollar signs and not the repercussions.
I’m not sure what tipped off the Russian authorities, or if this was a random check, but good for them on catching it. The whole point of banning R-22 was due to it’s harmful affects on the Ozone layer. Smuggling in R-22 to make large profits is not looking at the big picture. This does lead to the question of how many illegal imports of R-22 are not found in Russia, and if it is happening in Russia it is most definitely happening in the United States. Perpetrators of illegal importing can face substantial fines and even jail time under the Clean Air Act. They know what they are doing is wrong yet they still do it. (Why else would you disguise it as R-134a?)
Hopefully customs agents catch more of these in the future and deter smugglers from trying this again.
Well folks it looks like the automotive refrigerant market is going to be split into two. Today, most everybody is still using R-134a as the main refrigerant for automotive applications. If you have been working on newer cars you may have seen some vehicles with the HFO 1234YF systems. R-134a is being phased out across the world due to it’s high global warming potential of over 1,000. In the European Union R-134a was banned in the year of 2011. All new cars manufactured in Europe have to be using a refrigerant with a Global Warming Potential of less than 150.
The European Union chose the HFO 1234YF as it’s primary replacement and it’s not just Europe that is switching over to the HFO. General Motors announced that all of it’s vehicles will be switching over to 1234YF with a goal date of 2018. Chrysler announced that they would be switching over as well. Not to mention various other foreign manufactures. It seems like HoneyWell, DuPont, and the all of the major manufacturers are pushing for 1234YF. After all, it is a viable alternative to the harmful 134a being used today… or is it?
Germany Automakers Warn Against 1234YF
Remember how I said almost every automotive manufacturer is switching over to 1234YF? Well, I did say almost. The German manufacturers Daimler and now Volkswagen have declared that they will NOT be using 1234YF in any of their vehicles. Their reasoning stems from some tests that Daimler did in 2012 testing the safety of 1234YF. In two-thirds of the tests that Daimler conducted the 1234YF refrigerant ignited when the compressor ruptured and the refrigerant gas hit the hot engine. This test is designed to simulate a head on collision. When Daimler did the same tests with R-134a the refrigerant did not ignite. You can read more about this by clicking on this link to Daimler’s website. On top of the flammability Daimler also found that the refrigerant can emit toxic hydrogen fluoride gas when it burns. So, your car will be on fire and you’ll be choking to death. Good times…
After these tests were completed the German Transit Authority did it’s own tests but they were not able to replicate the results that Daimler had. On top of that the European Union did additional tests as well as DuPont and Honeywell. All tests came back negative. Daimler didn’t care about these other tests and claimed that they will NOT be using 1234YF in any of their vehicles. Instead, Daimler went forward on designing a CO2, or R-744, refrigerant system for their vehicles. On top of Daimler switching to CO2 it was announced this week that Volkswagen will be transitioning over to CO2 instead of 1234YF. The official article is in German, so I’ll post a small article from The Cooling Post about the announcement.
Well, with Daimler, Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi, and BMW all switching over to CO2 and the rest of the world using 1234YF we now have a split in the automotive air conditioning market. So, if you’re a mechanic and occasionally work on German cars you are now going to have to know your way around 134a systems, 1234YF systems, and CO2 systems. Obviously, this is inconvenient for everybody, but I can’t really complain as the German automakers firmly believe that they are making the right decision here. If I saw the tests that they had I would probably be pushing for CO2 as well. At the same time though, there have been hundreds of other tests that showed the refrigerant works fine. Are the German companies being stubborn, or is there legitimate concern?
The automotive air conditioning market is in a state of flux right now. 134a is banned in the European Union but still active in the US. The EU has switched over to 1234YF except for Germany who has switched to CO2. The USA is still majorly using 134a and slowly moving over to 1234YF. Asian markets are moving to 1234YF as well. The tide is with 1234YF but who knows what will happen. All it takes is one or tow bad accidents with 1234YF to prove Germany was right.
A few days ago I did a post about how CO2, or R-744, is making a comeback in recent years and is being widely used in vending machines as well as other units. Well, keeping with the trend of alternative refrigerants the Environmental Protection Agency recently approved the use of propane, or R-290, as a refrigerant in refrigerators, freezers, vending machines, and small room air conditioners in both the residential and commercial markets.
Propane has zero Ozone Depletion Potential, or ODP.
Propane’s Global Warming Potential, or GWP, is 3. For reference, R-410A has a GWP of 1725.
Great thermodynamic properties which leads to high efficiency and low operating cost to consumers.
Low charges allowing smaller heat exchangers and piping.
Low toxicity to technicians/consumers.
You can vent Propane.
Yes, that’s right you are eligible to vent propane into the environment. The EPA has seen no detriment to venting propane refrigerant.
Hmmm… I wonder what the con of using Propane as a refrigerant could be. Should I poll the audience? Yes… Yes… Oh, I have it! IT’S EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE!!!
Handling and maintaining a unit with R290 requires the utmost safety and knowledge on how the system and the refrigerant work with each other. (Also, don’t smoke while working on a unit….) It seems that as the market moves more and more towards climate friendly refrigerants the industry is getting more and more specialized. I’m not sure how I feel about this as the pay for technicians will become quite higher over the years but it also will make it difficult for new technicians to come into the market. It’s similar to how the automotive technician job has been going lately. I have a feeling in twenty or so years technicians will be as respected as doctors or pharmacists. They may even have to go to school for as long just to learn all of the technology.
Another con of using R290 is that it is not recommended to retrofit a system over to propane as the majority of the system will have to be swapped out. If your customer is interested in a propane unit I would recommend replacing the existing unit entirely rather than retrofitting. This will prevent you the hassle of doing the retrofit and the remove the chance of missing a step when switching the unit over.
Guidelines for Use of R290
I was searching online for some guidelines and tips on how to utilize R-290 and came across a few great resources for you to review:
CO2 The Natural Refrigerant Gaining Popularity… Again.
Well ladies and gentlemen it seems that we have come full circle in the past hundred years on refrigerants. We started with CO2 and now we’re circling right back to it. Every time I’m writing one of these articles about phasing out refrigerants I can’t help but chuckle. It seems that whenever we get close to the ‘perfect’ refrigerant something is found wrong with it. Either it depletes the Ozone, it has a high global warming potential, or it’s too flammable.
R-744 refrigerant, or CO2, was one of the first refrigerants invented and widely used in the late 1800s and early 1900s. We were using CO2 even before R-12 Refrigerant was invented. The idea of using CO2 as a refrigerant dates back to the 1850s and the first legitimate patent on CO2 was all the way back in 1867 Thaddeus S.C. Lowe.
The idea was picked up again in Germany in the 1890s when Franz Windhausen of Germany designed the first carbon dioxide compressor and his design was purchased by J&E Hall of Great Britain. Here it began to see widespread use on cargo ships throughout Europe. In America CO2 saw widespread use as well in ice machines, ships, and entertainment venues. Even the first movie theaters in the 1920s were cooled with CO2 refrigerants.
R-744 was eventually phased out due to two main reasons:
The Great Depression played a big part in the phase out of R-744. Refrigeration became a luxury that a lot of people just could not afford and the demand crashed.
R-744 is notoriously high pressure. Unfortunately, the technology in the early 20th century just wasn’t there to keep the CO2 equipment running smoothly. The new R-12 Refrigerant was the easier choice as it did not have the high pressure complications that CO2 did.
CO2 is Coming Back!
I’ve been watching the refrigeration industry over the past year and I am definitely seeing the trend of CO2 making a resurgence. The reason we’re seeing this is mainly due to the phase outs of refrigerants in the late 20th century and the early 21st century.
First we phased out the CFCs and HCFCs due to their ODP, or Ozone Depletion Potential. These were phased across the world in accordance to the Montreal Protocol and the world transitioned over to HFC refrigerants such as R-404A, R-410A, and R-134a.
Well now it’s been found that HFC refrigerants have an extremely high Global Warming Potential. So, now that we’ve spent all this time switching everybody over to the HFCs there is now a push to phase out the HFCs. The question is what is going to replace the HFCs?
There are many companies and experts suggesting various refrigerants and alternatives and one of those alternatives happens to be CO2.
Benefits and Drawbacks of CO2
CO2 offers a variety of benefits when comparing it to the refrigerants that are in use today:
No Ozone depletion potential.
Global Warming Potential is 1. (R-134a is over 1,000)
Far more efficient than other refrigerants.
Save everybody some money on their energy bills!
Now, I am not an expert here but the only drawback that I can see on CO2 systems is that is a very high pressure refrigerant. Back in the day this caused a lot of parts to fail and fail often. However, I believe in the 21st century that we have the technology to utilize CO2 and to do it safely. Keep in mind that you will need specially designed systems to handle CO2.
So, Who’s Using CO2 Now?
I’ve found quite a few articles on recent CO2 usage and I even found a website specifically dedicated to CO2 that can be found here http://r744.com.
I won’t go into detail about EVERY company that is using CO2 but here are some examples:
CO2 is used during the transportation/storage of ice cream and as most of you may know ‘Dry Ice,’ is CO2 in solid form.
Coca-Cola announced a few years ago that they would be discontinuing all usage of HFCs in their vending machines and would be transitioning over R-744.
Now, Coca-Cola fell short of their announced goal as you can read here, but as of today they have over 1.4 million CO2 vending machines on the market. This number is only expected to grow and other companies have begun to follow suit.
I found this article the other day detailing the first CO2 ice skating rink in Alaska. Ice skating rinks using CO2 is common place in Canada and is expected to spread in other parts of Alaska.
I can keep listing examples, but I feel that this gives a taste of what’s to come with CO2.
CO2 versus HFOs?
Besides CO2 one of the other alternative refrigerants that is coming to market are the HFOs produced by DuPont and Honeywell. I won’t get too deep into this but I have a feeling that as time goes on we’re going to see a ‘war’ between CO2 and it’s HFO counterparts. Are we going to be using 1234YF in our automobiles five years from now or will we be using CO2? How about for our super markets? Even residential? At this point it’s too early to tell what’s going to happen but it is exciting to see the innovation that is coming to the market.
As I stated in the beginning of this post it feels like we’ve gone in full circle…. and maybe that was how it was supposed to go. With this industry it feels like it’s impossible to predict anything. Regardless, CO2 is coming back and you best be ready!
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