HFCs

7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience store with sixty-eight thousand stores, has announced a partnership with Honeywell and their Solstice refrigerant line. Specifically, 7-Eleven has announced that they will be switching their condensers away from R-404A and over to the Solstice N40 refrigerant in the United States and Canadian markets. That is nearly twelve-thousand stores. This was the next logical step for 7-Eleven as last year they began a similar transition in their Japanese market. This switch was mandated by law, but it must have gave 7-Eleven the encouragement to switch additional stores over in North America.

I’m not an expert on supermarket or gas station coolers, but I noticed that when I was reading about this that they only intend to replace the condensers and not the rest of the machine. I am assuming that these are cascade systems that are being replaced and that the other refrigerant used is more climate friendly such as R-744. If any of you know of a different approach that they could be using feel free to let me know. It is always good to learn something new!

The replacement refrigerant known as Solstice N40, or R-448A, is a newer refrigerant from the Honeywell corporation. This refrigerant is a zeotropic blend between numerous refrigerants and is classified as an HFC/HFO mixture. It contains twenty-six percent of HFC R-32, twenty-six percent of HFC R-125, twenty-one percent of HFC R-134a, seven percent of HFO R-1234ze, and twenty percent of HFO R-1234yf. Just by the numbers I would call R-448A an HFC refrigerant rather then an HFO.

R-448A is designed as a replacement for R-404A in supermarket systems and can be used as a retrofit as well as on newer models. The retrofit is fairly simple and has been described as a near drop in replacement for R-404A. Notice I said ‘near.’ There are still some slight adjustments that have to be made before it can be used in an 404A system. 448A is meant for low and medium applications commonly found in super-markets, gas stations, vending machines, and other smaller systems.

It has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of one-thousand two-hundred and seventy-three. While that is still quite a high GWP it is nowhere near it’s predecessor. R-404A has a GWP of three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two. By making the switch to R-448A 7-Eleven will see a nearly sixty percent reduction of GWP. It is also more efficient then R-404A. In the lower temperature applications users can expect to see five percent in energy savings. With the medium temperature systems users can see up to fifteen percent in energy savings.

Lastly, it is safe as well with an A1 rating from ASHRAE. That means it is non-flammable and non-toxic. The flammability rating is a big deal as so many newer refrigerants nowadays seem to sacrifice safety for environment. Take R-1234yf for example, it’s predecessor R-134a was not flammable at all. 1234yf on the other hand is rated as 2L or slightly flammable. It is good to see that a next generation refrigerant is able to tackle both GWP and public/technician safety.

Conclusion

While 7-Eleven moves forward with this new refrigerant the question that I have on my mind is how long will this refrigerant last? Yes, it is a definite improvement over the HFC R-404A but it still has a GWP of over one-thousand. This refrigerant may last for a while and companies can all give themselves a pat on the back for becoming more environmentally friendly, but chances are that they will have to be switching refrigerants again in another five to ten years due to the pressure of getting rid of high GWP refrigerants.

If it was me I would either hold off on replacing/updating my HFC equipment, or if I had to update then I would opt for a natural or hydrocarbon refrigerant such as R-744 or R-290. At least with these you know that you do not have the risk of phase down looming around the corner. If there is one thing business owners can’t stand it is uncertainty.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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On April 4th, 2019 a suit was filed by the HFC Coalition to the International Trade Commission (ITC). This suit aimed at stopping the dumping of HFC blended refrigerants such as R-410A, R-404A, and R-407C. The ITC’s decision on rather or not to review the suit was set for a deadline in May, but it was then pushed back to July. We were all expecting a decision to come next month but it was announced at the tail end of this week that the ITC has decided to accept the case and began the inquiry.

There have already been anti-dumping tariffs on HFC blends for a few years now, but the ITC’s ruling back then stated that only the blended refrigerant could be subject to the tariff. The components of these blends were not subject to the tax. So, businesses could import R-32 and R-125 refrigerants from China and face no penalties. These same businesses would then blend the refrigerant here in the States and then circumvent the tariff.

This oversight by the International Trade Commission has led to what we have today. Dirt cheap prices on some of the most common HFC refrigerants used. In essence, the initial levying of tariffs on blended refrigerants had very little impact. Everyone was getting around the tariff by importing components. It was like nothing had changed.

This is where the new suit filed in April comes into play. This case targeted the components of these blended refrigerants. On the original announcement of the suit prices on HFC blends went up nearly forty to fifty percent. As the dust began to settle prices slowly sank back down to pre-suit levels. Now though, the ITC has announced that they will hear this new case.

The Inquiry

As I said previously, the Department of Commerce has decided to began an inquiry on HFC refrigerant components. Originally, everyone had thought that the inquiry would be solely focused the blending process of the components. So, if you imported the components and then blended them into an HFC blend that is tariffed then you would be subject to the tax.

To my surprise though there were four inquiries announced this week. Let’s take a look:

  1. The first inquiry is what we just mentioned above. This is the blending of the components within the United States and circumventing the tariff. If the ITC agrees then a tariff would be installed on the blending process if the components are sourced from China.
  2. The next is what’s known as unfinished blends. I’ll be upfront with you here, I don’t know one-hundred percent what this is but my educated guess is that this is Chinese refrigerant companies blending the refrigerants but NOT to the exact levels to meet the anti-dumping blended requirements. In other words, they get it close to R-410A… but not all the way. This process would also be taxed if the ITC approves.
  3. The next inquiry is similar to our first point. This has to deal with importing components and blending them in a different country. The difference here though is that this is referencing India in particular. In this scenario, China exports the refrigerant components to India and then India blends them to create the blended HFC. This was yet another work around that companies found as the country of origin is India… even though the goods came from China. If approved anti-dumping would be installed in this scenario as well. While the initial inquiry only states India that does not mean that other countries are exempt. Say for example, China imports components into Vietnam and they blend there. If a decision is made here let’s hope it applies to all countries.
  4. The last change is on the blended refrigerant R-421A. This refrigerant blend actually doesn’t have a tariff on it because the product is patented. Patented refrigerants were excluded from the previous anti-dumping order. R-421A is quite similar to the more popular blended refrigerant known as R-407C. So, folks were importing the non-tariff R-421A and then finishing the blend to create R-407C. To give an example here, R-421A is comprised of R-125 (58%) and R-134a (42%). R-407C is comprised of R-32 (23%), R-125 (25%), and R-134a (52%). The only thing missing between these two refrigerants is R-32 and that is easily enough imported in without a tariff. If the ITC rules in favor then these patented blends will see tariffs installed on them as well.

Call these work around what you want. Maybe they are clever loopholes found by hard working businessmen. Or, maybe, they are skirting the edge of the law and they should all be stopped. However you feel, it is all coming to a head now. Now that this inquiry has begun there is a great amount of uncertainty in the market. What will happen? Will they rule in favor of all four? Just some, or none at all?

Pricing Impact

The official inquiry by the Department of Commerce will be hitting the public register on Monday. From that date onwards, June 17th, there will be a three-hundred day period for the ITC to make their decision. Here’s the scary thing though folks. If the ITC decides to impose tariffs in any of the ways we described above then those tariffs could be retroactive. This is huge and this is the main reason we are seeing prices go haywire.

Look at this way. Let’s say I am a business owner and I am going to import a trailerload of R-32 and R-125 into the United States next week. The product comes in, I blend it to R-410A, and then sell all of the product a few months later. I could face a tariff on ALL of that imported product nearly a year after I had imported and sold it. The ITC has the power to make this ruling retroactive and because of that the importing of HFCs has become a lot less attractive. Business owners could be looking at an over one-hundred percent tax on product they already sold.

Everyone who saw this coming bought up on as much product as they could and now that the inquiry has begun prices have begun to rise. A few major manufacturers have already announced their price increases. The question now though is will these manufacturers put limits on what quantities businesses can buy as well? Or, will the high prices be enough?

If you were smart enough to buy ahead you can now make a killing since the import market has all but dried up. Let’s take a look at some of the pricing trends we’re seeing now since this inquiry began just a few days ago:

R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $65
  • Jan 2019 – $68
  • Feb 2019 – $56
  • Mar 2019 – $49
  • Apr 2019 – $100 – News of possible tariffs
  • May 2019 – $78
  • June 2019 – $65 – Before Inquiry
  • June 2019 – $100 – After Inquiry
    • I will state that the $100 is with some vendors. I have seen some say one-hundred and fifty and even some at one-hundred and eighty dollars a cylinder.

R-404A – Twenty-Four Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $175
  • Fall 2018 – $80
  • Jan 2019 – $70
  • Feb 2019 – $58
  • Mar 2019 – $50
  • Apr 2019 – $105 – News of possible tariffs
  • May 2019 – $89
  • June 2019 – $60 – Before Inquiry
  • June 2019 – $105 – After Inquiry

R-407C – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

I don’t have as much pricing information on this product but I can still show you the pricing swing that took place this month:

  • June 2019 – $85 – Before Inquiry
  • June 2019 – $105 – After Inquiry

Conclusion

With the announcement of these inquiries this week there is now a lot of uncertainty introduced within the market place. It is difficult to say what will happen with pricing now. In the earlier announcements there was still hope that the ITC wouldn’t take up the case, but now that it is official we may see prices stay at these levels, or even go higher. It could go as crazy as two-hundred dollars plus a cylinder late this summer for some of the more popular HFC blends. But, we just don’t know for sure.

After all, it’s been an unseasonably colder summer for most of the country. I just took a bike ride earlier today in seventy-four degree weather. That is unheard of in Kansas in the middle of June. It should be close to one-hundred degrees. I know New England and other areas are experiencing the same thing. This colder weather may act as a buffer to this pending inquiry and help insulate the pricing situation until a decision is made next year.

If you are looking to purchase refrigerant please check out our bulk purchasing page by clicking here. In many cases we can get you the best and most aggressive priced product on the market.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Also, check out our other earlier articles on this same topic:

A few more dominoes fell this week in the HFC phase down across the United States. I had reported a few weeks ago that Washington State’s HFC phase down had passed the legislature and just needed the signature from the governor. Well, Governor Jay Inslee signed bill HB 1112 this week. This adds yet another state to the ever growing list that has begun phasing down HFC refrigerants. We now have California, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, and now Washington State phasing down HFC refrigerants. There are other states as well considering their own legislation.

So far all of these state planned phase downs have been modeled after the original Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20 and 21 from 2015. The same holds true for another state that announced their intentions to phase down HFC refrigerants: Vermont. Yes, Vermont has announced that they are intending to phase down HFC refrigerants as well through their new bill ‘S. 30.’ The bill passed the legislature last week and is expected a signature from the governor soon.

With an effective date of July 1st, 2019 Vermont is wasting no time. Just like with the other states Vermont begins their phase down by targeting R-404A applications and larger cold storage warehouses. 404A is always the first target as it has an extremely high Global Warming Potential. It’s the low hanging fruit of the HFC refrigerants. As the years progress Vermont will target other applications and HFC refrigerants through a staggered approach. The end goal of Vermont’s HFC phasedown is to see a forty percent usage reduction based on 2013 levels by the year 2030.

Vermont, along with twenty-three other states, is part of what’s known as the United States Climate Alliance.’ This alliance was formed when the Trump Administration pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. The goal of the alliance is to create a coalition of states that work together to fight Climate Change and Global Warming. Their thinking is if the Federal Government isn’t going to do anything then the states will have to.

The other states in the Climate Alliance are all expected to follow suit in the coming years. This all started with California and then we began to see the snowball effect take hold as New York and other New England states announced they were planning HFC phasedowns. Nearly half the states in The Union are part of this Climate Alliance and it’s only a matter of time before more HFC phase down announcements are made. What state will be next?

Conclusion

The Federal Government’s positions on HFC phase down has been a mystery for the past few years. The EPA’s SNAP Rule was thrown out by the courts. The Kigali Amendment went into effect at the beginning of this year but the United States never ratified the treaty. The EPA may announce something soon, but it is unclear what this announcement will be.

I’ve said this before in other HFC phase down articles but as more states are added to the list eventually manufacturing companies are going to be forced to move away from HFCs… even if there isn’t a Federal mandate. If enough states phase out HFCs then manufacturers will either have to produce two different models (One for HFC states and one for non-HFC states), or the manufacturers will have to do a complete switch over to lower GWP refrigerants. If I was in their shoes, I know what I would choose.

Regardless of what happens, we can all be assured that over the next ten years the usage of HFCs will be going down and we will seem them being replaced with either natural refrigerants, hydrocarbons, or HFOs. The industry is getting more diversified and that means more specialized training to deal with these varying refrigerants.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

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In the beginning of this year I got into the habit of writing refrigerant pricing updates as I saw them coming. Most of these have been fairly benign with a few percent increases here and there. It was last month though that I wrote a pricing update that had pricing doubling on some of the most popular refrigerants in just a matter of days. The article can be found here.

This huge jump in price can be tied to a new suit filed with the Department of Commerce. This suit which was filed by the HFC Coalition aimed at installing anti-dumping tariffs on HFC components. For those of you that do not know, a few years back there were anti-dumping tariffs put on some of the most popular HFC refrigerants used today: R-410A and R-404A. These tariffs targeted Chinese product that was being unloaded in the United States at ultra low prices.

The problem with these tariffs though was how they were written. The tariffs themselves ONLY applied to R-410A and R-404A. Remember folks, that these two products are blended refrigerants. While the tariff was on the finished product it wasn’t on the components to make the blend. So, your refrigerants like R-125 and R-32 were immune from the anti-dumping. This resulted in a halting of imports of R-410A/R-404A and instead we saw massive importing of the components to blend these refrigerants. This flood of refrigerant components caused the price to stay pretty much were it was before the anti-dumping tariffs were installed. Nothing had changed except now distributors were blending Chinese refrigerants in the United States.

The Suit

I won’t get into all of the details here as it would be repetitive from my last article. Instead I’ll give a short summary and then move onto the update. In order to prevent these low prices and the continuing flood of Chinese refrigerants a suit was introduced to the Department of Commerce. This suit aimed at solving the problem when it comes to HFC refrigerant blends by adding a tariff to ANY HFC components that were used to create a blend within the United States. In other words, you can import R-125 all day long but the moment you use R-125 to create R-410A then you have to pay a tariff.

This suit was filed in early April and originally a decision was to be made today May 20th, 2019. Well, the deadline came and went and there was still no decision made. Instead the Department of Commerce issued a statement saying:

“According to 19 CFR 351.225(c)(2), “{w}ithin 45 days of the date of receipt of an application for a scope ruling, the Secretary will issue a final ruling under paragraph (d) of this section or will initiate a scope inquiry under paragraph (e) of this section.” However, “unless expressly precluded by statute, the Secretary may, for good cause, extend any time limit.” We have determined that additional time is required to review and assess the HFC Coalition’s request. Thus, in accordance with 19 CFR 351.302(b), we are extending the time-period for initiating a formal anti-circumvention inquiry by 45 days, until July 3, 2019.”

So, the can has been kicked down the road and we are now left with even more uncertainty. Before I get into pricing I want to make sure everyone understands that IF the DOC decides to take this suit up on July 3rd then EVERY blended refrigerant from July 3rd up until the decision date of the suit could be retroactively taxed the tariff. So, if I imported a heap of R-125 and R-32 in August, mixed them as 410A, and then sold them in September then I could be liable for tariffs… even if the DOC’s decision doesn’t come until February of 2020.

Pricing Update

That clause I just mentioned above is why we saw prices go crazy last April. The price of HFC refrigerants seemed to jump overnight when news of this hit the industry. Everyone was buying up as much as they could from their distributors and the distributors were buying as much as they could from China before a decision was made to accept the suit or not. In some cases we saw prices double.

Today however, I have good news. The prices on HFCs have begun to settle down. It’s hard to say exactly why this is but it appears that the initial shock of tariffs on components have worn off. Or, it could be that everyone and their brother have bought up so much that the demand has ultimately died down. Whatever the reason is prices have gone down since May. While we are still not near where we were before, we are in a much better spot then we were a month ago.

In my last article I did a break down of pricing on R-410A and R-404A. Let’s take a look again but with this week’s prices:

R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $65
  • Jan 2019 – $68
  • Feb 2019 – $56
  • Mar 2019 – $49
  • Apr 2019 – $100 – News of possible tariffs
  • May 2019 – $78

R-404A – Twenty-Four Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $175
  • Fall 2018 – $80
  • Jan 2019 – $70
  • Feb 2019 – $58
  • Mar 2019 – $50
  • Apr 2019 – $105 – News of possible tariffs
  • May 2019 – $89

Conclusion

As you can see, we are moving downwards… but it is very tough to say what will happen in the future. There is still a lot of uncertainty in the industry and it is anyone’s guess as to what the Department of Commerce will decide on July 3rd.

One other point to mention here is that there was some talk on the latest tariffs from the Trump Administration. These tariffs are unrelated to the anti-dumping tariffs but are instead retaliatory taxes in the ongoing trade war between the United States and China. They were to be twenty-five percent on selected harmonized codes.

At first I understood that HFC refrigerants, and components, were affected by this tariff. But now, I have heard that an exemption was made specifically for HFC components. I have searched online trying to find specific information but it is quite murky, and I have not been able to find anything concrete. If any of you have further information on this topic please reach out to me and I will update this article.

Thanks for reading and hope everyone has a great Memorial Day! I’ve got a barbecue with my name no it. Cheers!

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Flammable Refrigerants

Last month I wrote on the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and their decision on rather or not to increase the allowed charge limit on hydrocarbon refrigerant applications. Before their decision was made the maximum approved amount was one-hundred and fifty grams under the IEC 60335-2-8 global standard. This proposed increase would have moved the one-hundred and fifty grams limit up to five-hundred grams.

In April the IEC voted against the charge increase amendment. The decision was lost by one no vote. This ruling caused great disappointment across the industry. Many companies and organizations have been pushing to increase charge limits on flammable hydrocarbon refrigerants. The increased charge limit would allow hydrocarbons to be used in larger variety of applications.

Hydrocarbons are one of the top contenders for future refrigerants as the world begins to phase down HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A due to their high Global Warming Potential. While hydrocarbons can be dangerous due to their flammability they are also one of the most environmentally friendly refrigerants out there as they have no Ozone Depletion Potential and have very little Global Warming Potential.

There is a fine line that has to be walked though as if the charge limit on a propane or isobutane system is too high then the risk of catastrophic failure becomes higher.

This Week’s Recount

It was announced this week by the IEC that a recount was done on last month’s vote. It was found that Malaysia’s no vote was cast illegitimately. The Malaysian vote did not follow the proper voting procedures. In order to vote no you had to provide technical justification for your no vote. If no justification was provided then your vote would be rejected. This is precisely what happened to Malaysia’s vote this month.

While it has not been made one-hundred percent official yet it appears that there are no further roadblocks in the path of IEC adjusting their 60335-2-89 standard. A3 refrigerants will see their charge limit increase to five-hundred grams and A2L refrigerants will see their charge limits increase to one point two kilograms. (One point one pounds on A3 refrigerants and two point four pounds on A2L refrigerants.)

Conclusion

While the IEC is not a governmental organization it serves as a global standard within various industries sand it is who governments look towards for guidance. The IEC ruling to increase charge limits on hydrocarbon applications will be seen as the first steps in seeing further hydrocarbon rollouts across the world.

There is a lot of debate on this decision.  Many folks have expressed concern about increasing charge limits on these highly flammable refrigerants. Obviously, the higher the charge limits the higher the chance of ignition and explosion.  But, if proper precautions are taken by both the manufacturers and the service technicians then all should be fine. All it could take though is one mistake and an incident could occur.

As we move forward from the IEC’s decision we can expect to see other countries and manufacturers beginning to adopt larger hydrocarbon applications. We may first begin to see this in Asia and then in the European Union.

The United States is quite a bit behind the times when it comes to hydrocarbons. It was just a bit ago when the Environmental Protection Agency increased the approved charge limit from fifty grams to one-hundred and fifty grams. So, we just caught up to the global standard and now it has changed again to five-hundred grams.  I predict it will be quite a while before the EPA approves five-hundred gram applications.

No matter how you feel about the IEC’s decision, this topic is another example of the safety versus climate balance. No refrigerants are perfect and while we all know the world wants to get rid of HFCs is it really worth moving away from HFCs if we are risking our own safety to do so? Personally, I think not. I believe we should hold onto HFCs until a more suitable and safer alternative is discovered.

As to what will happen only time will tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Today Democratic Presidential Candidate Robert O’Rourke announced his climate action plan if he was to become president after the 2020 election. Of course, all of this is very speculative as we haven’t even gone through the primaries yet. We are still a very long ways away from the election and no one knows for sure what the landscape will look by the time we get there.What is concerning though is that these announcements and policy positions made by candidates today may be carried over towards the national stage as we progress further along. Even if Mr. O’Rourke doesn’t achieve the nomination his competitors may look at some of his policies and began to adopt them for themselves.

Now, I won’t get into all of the details of O’Rourke’s plan but instead I’m going to focus on one specific excerpt that affects us the most. Here is what his campaign website states:

“Rapidly phase-out hydrofluorocarbons, the super-polluting greenhouse gas that is up to 9,000 times worse for climate change than carbon dioxide.” – Source

What concerns mere here folks is the vagueness of his comments. HFCs are mentioned almost off offhandedly in a long laundry list of other goals and desires. Reading his comments above leads me to a variety of questions:

  1. What does a rapid phase out look like? Notice also, that it is stated as a phase out and not a phase down. Will this be an immediate phase out? Or, will it be staggered?
  2. In his climate plan he states that he would enact these HFC phase outs on the very first day of his presidency via executive order. Like I mentioned above, will this be staggered or he just going to shut the hose off and leave the market scrambling?
  3. Will R-410A be included in this proposed plan? In most HFC phase downs across the United States rather it be through the EPA or individual states we have seen R-410A more or less left alone. That is because it is still fairly new as a replacement for R-22.
  4. How will R-134a be handled in this phase out? Will all new vehicles be forced over to 1234yf?
  5. Will this phase out be focused on no more new machines being produced or imported in the United States? Or, will it be focused also on manufacturing and import limits on HFC refrigerants?

Of course there are many other questions that come to mind after reading his campaign website. But, this is all speculative and at this point no one knows for sure what’s going to happen. The only thing I can hope for is that as we move closer to the election and the field begins to narrow that we get a more details and concise plan from candidates.

Conclusion

I try to make RefrigerantHQ political neutral. You may have seen my political leanings in differing posts, but overall I feel it’s in bad taste to advocate for one side or another on an industry specific publication. It doesn’t make sense to exclude half of your audience just because you feel a certain way.

That being said, this plan from Mr. O’Rourke does concern me for the reasons I mentioned above. It has the potential to turn the industry upside down. Imagine, if you will, that he is elected President and on his first day he bans HFCs from all new machines and puts an import/production limit on HFC refrigerants. The market would go crazy. Prices would sky rocket and shortages would occur. We would look like Europe looked like in 2017 and 2018.

O’Rourke isn’t the only Democratic candidate pushing for these types of changes though. Mr. Inslee out of Washington, whom I wrote about earlier today, is also running for President and has also voiced desire to phase out HFC refrigerants.

It’s going to be a crazy eighteen months until Election Day. Here’s hoping we get some more details on these plans and may the best candidate win!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Another state has moved forward with phasing down HFC refrigerants such as R-404A, R-134a, and R-410A. Last week the Washington State House Bill 1112 passed the Legislature with a large majority vote. This was widely expected to pass and now all it needs is a signature from Governor Jay Inslee which is expected to happen soon.

Washington is part of what’s known as the United States Climate Alliance. This alliance is a mixture of various States that came together when the Trump Administration announced that they were pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord. These twenty-two states include New York, Washington, New Jersey, Oregon, and California. In fact, Governor Inslee of Washington was one of the co-founders of this alliance.

The Washington Bill 1112 is modeled and built off of the Environmental Protection Agency’s former SNAP Rules 20 and 21. It aims at phasing down HFCs across the state and to make certain HFCs no longer acceptable in newly built applications. I won’t report on the exact specifics on the bill until it is fully signed as there is always a chance that there will be further amendments or changes before it is fully passed.

But, from what I have read the Washington bill is very similar to the California bill that was passed last year. Let’s take a look at what California did:

California

The California bill adopts the rules laid out on the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rules 20 and 21. The only exception here is for automobiles. (In the SNAP Rule 20 R-134a was deemed as no longer acceptable in 2021 model years.) These prohibitions and regulations in California took effect on January 1st, of this year.

Under the new California law manufacturers can no longer produce machines that use the prohibited HFC refrigerants. Now, just like with the EPA’s SNAP, this California plan is a staggered approach. So, not all applications were phased out all at once.

California did the carrot and stick approach. Obviously, the stick is not being compliant with the new regulations and facing fines and other repercussions. The carrot though is that the government is offering incentives to businesses that begin adopting new climate friendly equipment today.

All of these changes and regulations from the Senate Bill 1013 aim at cutting California’s HFC emissions to forty percent below 2013 levels by the time we reach the year 2030. This goal is mandated by the Senate Bill 1383.

The important thing to remember here folks is that this isn’t just an on or off switch. Like I mentioned earlier, this is a staggered approach that goes by application to application. That being said, one big change that has already occurred as of January of this year is that R-404A is no longer acceptable in supermarket systems in California. Along with that 404A is no longer accepted in vending machines, cold storage facilities, and many other applications. You can read more on this by clicking here.

While R-134a and R-410A were mentioned in their table, it was only briefly and not in their primary applications. For example, automobiles were not mentioned and home/commercial air conditioners were not mentioned. So, for the foreseeable future your air conditioner for your home and car will still be using HFCs in California without issue. All of that may change though folks as you never know what new law will come down the pipeline.

Conclusion

California was the first but there will be many more to follow. Washington will be next. Who knows who will come after that?

One thing is for certain, the United States Climate Alliance is a large collection of states and it is only getting larger as time goes on. As the dominoes began to fall we will eventually see manufacturers be forced to move away from HFC machines if they want to continue selling in Climate Alliance states.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Well folks, as most of you know today is Earth Day. Personally, I don’t do anything to celebrate it besides walking around my property and enjoying the view. I just cleared an area by our pond this weekend and now I’ve got a nice quiet place to relax after a day’s work.

As I was reading the news today I saw a plethora of Earth Day stores. One that stuck out to me though was that the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) announced that they had launched a website in honor of Earth Day. This website aims at identifying retailers within the United States who have begun to use natural refrigerants instead of HFCs. The goal here is to have the companies who have started moving forward with natural refrigerants to be recognized for leading the pack.

Before we get to the website, let’s take a look at who the Environmental Investigation Agency (IEA) is. I have not heard of them before, and when I haven’t heard of something I like to research it. EIA is a non-profit organization that was founded back in 1984 out of the United Kingdom. Today they have offices in London and in Washington DC and focus on environmental crime and abuse across the globe. Their main website can be found by clicking here. They work on wide variety of things from endangered animals and poaching all the way over to climate change and refrigerants.

The new HFC website that EIA created can be found by clicking here. At first glance when looking at this website and the map that shows you where the natural refrigerant supermarkets are within the United States I couldn’t help but laugh. Nearly every location is in California or New York. This was expected as California usually leads the way in environmental progress, but still it was quite funny to see that the closest one to me is about one-thousand miles away (I’m in Kansas City).

Regardless of how far away they are progress is progress. According to IEA there are five main companies that have been pushing their locations to move away from HFCs and switch over to natural refrigerants. These companies are: Target, Aldi, Ahold Delhaize, Whole Foods Market, and Sprouts. Each of these companies has their own innovative ways of applying these alternative refrigerants. These range from:

  • Transcritical CO2 systems
  • Cascade or indirect systems using a combination of two low-GWP refrigerants
  • Micro-distributed systems using hydrocarbon condensing units on a chilled water or glycol loop
  • Stand-alone display cases using hydrocarbons

I won’t get into the details of what every company has done over the past few years to make this listing, but instead give you a quick highlight from each company. If you wish to read more on the subject feel free to visit our ‘Sources’ section at the bottom of this article to continue reading.

Aldi has been one of the leaders here in the United States. This isn’t surprising in the slightest as they are a European based company and have European ideals. (Europe is always ahead of us when it comes to environmental changes.) According to IEA Aldi has over two-hundred stores with transcritical R-744 systems with plans to add another one-hundred by the end of 2019. Along with that they have launched R-290 propane self-contained refrigerators/freezers and they have transitioned their warehouses over to R-717 ammonia based systems.

Target is another big driver of change. So far they have over one-thousand stores using self-contained hydrocarbon refrigerators/freezers (R-290 and R-600a). They have also begun experimenting with CO2 applications. They are piloting a transcritical R-744 application in two stores and they have also begun using CO2 cascade systems in their larger stores. Also, just like Aldi, they are using ammonia R-717 in their food distribution warehouses.

The other stores haven’t done as much as Aldi and Target, but they are still making strides to cleaner refrigerants. Whole Foods, now owned by Amazon, has begun distributing propane stand-alone refrigerators/freezers across their entire store network. They have also been piloting a transcritical CO2 system in their Brooklyn, New York store. The company Ahold USA was the very first store ever in the United States to begin using a transcritical CO2 system. Lastly, Sprouts was the first grocery store in the United States to use a R-744 ejection refrigeration system.

Conclusion

Along with these companies being environmentally friendly and being recognized by such agencies such as the IEA they also get the added benefit of increased energy efficiency. More often than not natural refrigerants are far more efficient than your standard HFC refrigerant. Ammonia, for example, is the most efficient refrigerant out there. All of this efficiency means decreased monthly energy bills for these stores and companies. So, while there may be a larger expense up front with a natural system the business owner will make it back month to month with lower operating expenses. They also get the peace of mind knowing that natural refrigerants will never be phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency as they have no, or extremely little, impact on the climate and the Ozone layer.

While looking at the map of all of stores using natural refrigerants was comical, we do all have to start somewhere. I’m willing to bet though that the map isn’t covering every store in the country. There’s a Whole Foods and an Aldi not far from me and I bet one of those stores are using a propane based refrigerator. With each year that passes the chance of running into these systems increases. If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with them I would recommend looking into it soon.

What is interesting though was after reading this I saw very little mention of HFO refrigerants from Honeywell and Chemours. Are the HFO refrigerants being eclipsed by natural refrigerants?  Will we begin to see the mass conversion away from R-404A before HFOs can be fully rolled out? Time will tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

alert

Hello all, I apologize for the two e-mails in one day but I figured this one was worth it. Over the past week I have had a few notifications from my contacts within the industry about incoming price changes.

First, before we get into what these changes are I want to take a look at why they are occurring. A few years back there was a suit filed with the International Trade Commission. This suit claimed that refrigerants from China were being dumped into the United States market at unfair prices. This dumping caused the prices on the most common HFC refrigerants to sink lower and lower.

In 2016 the Trade Commission ruled in favor of tariffs on imported HFC refrigerant blends from China (Two-hundred and ten percent tariff – Source from CoolingPost.com) The problem here though was that the Trade Commission’s ruling was on on HFC blends and not their components. That meant if you imported R-410A into the United States from China you would face a two-hundred and ten percent tariff, but if you imported R-125 and R-32 from China and then blended them within the US then you could work around the tariffs.

Obviously, this was a big hole. With this ruling there was going to be very little impact on HFC blend pricing. Sure, there is the extra cost of having to blend the product, but it is minimal when compared to purchasing competing product. The low priced product from China continued to flow freely.

The New Case

Everyone knew that the anti-dumping tariff had to be put in place on the components of blended refrigerants as well. But, in order to justify a new case with the Trade Commission it had to be proven that the tariffs instigated in 2016 were not effective and that companies were navigating around them by importing component refrigerants. From what I have read there needs to be at least a couple years of data in order for a case to move forward and be legitimized.

Well folks, here we are in 2019 and years have passed since the initial anti-dumping tariffs were passed. It is now time for a new case with the International Trade Commission. Yes, on April 4th, 2019 the American HFC Coalition and it’s members filed a new anti-dumping case with the Trade Commission. An excerpt can be seen below:

Section 781(a) of the Act is designed to address circumvention of an order by imports of out-of-scope merchandise, such as HFC components, that are completed or assembled in the United States after importation. As described below, the statutory criterion for initiating an anticircumvention inquiry are satisfied in this case. Evidence establishes that iGas USA, Inc., and its affiliate BMP USA, Inc., are mixing HFC blends in the United States using HFC components imported from China.

The process of blending HFC components from China into in-scope HFC blends adds only [ ] per kilogram of the finished HFC blend. As such, the blending performed by iGas and BMP is “minor or insignificant” within the meaning of section781(a)(1)(C) and 781(a)(2) of the Act. Additionally, the imported R-32, R-125, or R-143a, as the primary inputs of HFC blends, account for a “significant portion” of the total value of the merchandise within the meaning of section 781(a)(1)(D) of the Act. For these reasons, HFC components imported from China by TTI, Lianzhou, iGas and BMP are circumventing the antidumping duty order on HFC blends. Consequently, these components should be included within the antidumping duty order on HFC Blends from China pursuant to Section 781(a) of the Act.

As you can see, they have referenced companies bringing in HFC components from China and then mixing them in house to create R-410A, R-404A, and other popular HFC blends. Here is where things get a bit different though folks. Most people within the industry knew that this was coming. They had expected it to hit this year even, but what’s different is that the expected case was to be on the component refrigerants coming in from China. This new case though aims at the actual blending process. If you import HFC components into the United States from China and you then use those components to create a refrigerant blend that has a tariff then that tariff will apply to your newly blended refrigerant. In other words, you will be charged the tariff on R-410A even though you didn’t actually import R-410A. (You imported R-125 and R-32 instead.) An excerpt from the case is below as well:

COMMERCE SHOULD INCLUDE HFC COMPONENTS, “COMPLETED OR ASSEMBLED” IN THE
UNITED STATES INTO HFC BLENDS, WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE ANTIDUMPING ORDER
PURSUANT TO SECTION 781(A) OF THE ACT.

All of this is preliminary. There is nothing official yet. The Trade Commission hasn’t even decided if they are going to investigate the matter. Their decision is expected to come towards the end of May. If the Commission does decide to investigate this case then we may have to wait a year, or more, to find out what the results are and if they will be levying a tariff on the blending of HFC refrigerants. Here’s the kicker though folks, if they do accept this case and rule in favor of a tariff a year down the road they could also make the decision to retroactively enact the tariff on blending refrigerants. That means that from the moment they accept the case up until their ruling refrigerant distributors could have to pay the new tariffs on their blended refrigerants… even on product that have already been sold. This is a worst case scenario, but if it does happen a lot of companies will have to write off these tariffs on product that they sold a year ago.

Price & Availability

As a direct result of the scenario above we have begun to see chaos in the HFC pricing and availability market here in the United States. In just a few days after the announced case two major refrigerant manufacturers sent notifications that they would no longer be accepting HFC refrigerant orders. Think about that for a second, two out of the four major manufacturers are no longer accepting orders. (I won’t name names here, but I’m sure you can make a good guess.) These companies put a hold on their distributing refrigerant because everyone is buying as much refrigerants as they can as soon as they can. Everyone is trying to beat that May deadline when the Trade Commission decides rather to pick up the case or not. That date is critical because, as we discussed before, if they do decide to investigate then ANY product brought in after that date could be subject to an anti-dumping tariff.

Along with the two manufacturers who are no longer taking orders I have another mailer from a third global manufacturer. While this mailer isn’t stopping orders it is announcing a large price increase on all of their HFC refrigerants. This company announced an increase of eighty cents a pound on their various HFC refrigerants such as: R-410A, R-407A, R-407C, R-404A, and R-507. For some reason, R-134a was also mentioned as having an increase although theirs was smaller at sixty cents more per pound. Having R-134a in here is strange since it is not a blended refrigerant, but this may have been thrown in there just because.

Based off of the increases mentioned above let’s take a look at one of the most popular refrigerants and how they are impacted. Remember, that these prices are always ball park and can change at any time:

R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $65
  • Jan 2019 – $68
  • Feb 2019 – $56
  • Mar 2019 – $49
  • Apr 2019 – $100

R-404A – Twenty-Four Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $175
  • Fall 2018 – $80
  • Jan 2019 – $70
  • Feb 2019 – $58
  • Mar 2019 – $50
  • Apr 2019 – $105

Conclusion

These two pricing trends above really tell the story on what has happened over the past week or so. The prices on these HFC blends have nearly doubled. ALL of this is due to speculation and rumor as to what the Trade Commission will decide. Will they take up the case? Or, will they hold off? 

Also, another point that I didn’t mention is that it’s not just the larger global manufacturers that are having a run on their HFC inventory. The Chinese are seeing huge trailerload orders placed as a last ditch effort to get as much product on hand as possible before a possible tariff begins. If this keeps up there very well may be a global shortage of R-125 again similar to what we saw in the spring of 2017. (At some points during that year we saw 410A and 404A prices upwards of four-hundred dollars.)

The only good news I can offer here is that once the May deadline approaches things began to slow down. Right now it is the uncertainty that is driving the market mad. At least once a decision is made everyone can sleep a bit easier. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

It is human nature. If the demand is high enough then the market will provide. It doesn’t matter if the product is illegal or not. If there are people willing to pay for it than others will provide the product, even if there is great risk involved.  When most people hear the terms ‘black market’ they think of various drugs and or weapons. These items are sold under the radar of government agencies and often times at great profit.

While the above items are mostly illegal there is another kind of black market that can occur when a product is strictly regulated, refrigerant for example. By now, we all know the amount of regulations, rules, and restrictions that are in place on various refrigerants across the globe. To complicate things more these regulations can change from country to country and now state to state.  Due to these regulations the price of refrigerant has risen significantly in certain parts of the world. Eventually, there was a breaking point where the increased price meant substantial profits to those who were willing to bypass the law.

Europe

The large majority of illegal refrigerants are being found within the European Union. The CoolingPost.com has done a fantastic job about reporting every one of these instances. I’m not going to go into every documented case here but to start reading on some of these scroll to the bottom of our article under the ‘Sources’ section.

Instead, in this section we’re going to focus on why and what kind of illegal trade is occurring. The biggest violation in Europe is under the ‘F-Gas’ quota system.  Just like here in the United States, the EU has a quota on how much a specific refrigerant can be produced or imported into the EU. The difference here is that Europe has begun phasing down HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. The phase down came with a very aggressive import/production quota similar to what we have on R-22. This aggressive phase down caused the prices on HFC refrigerants in Europe to go up hundreds of percent. I recall reading that at one point a cylinder of R-404A was going for over seven-hundred dollars.

That crazy price point was a prime target for illegal trade. Companies from outside of the European Union saw a window of opportunity for a hefty profit. Let’s think about it for a moment. A cylinder of R-404A from China could cost around fifty dollars. If you could smuggle multiple pallets of 404A into Europe and sell it for a hundred bucks less than the going rate then the reward would be huge. For argument’s sake let’s say five pallets at forty cylinders each. So, two –hundred cylinders selling at five-hundred dollars a cylinder equals out to one-hundred thousand dollars in sales. Take out your ten-thousand dollars of cost for the Chinese product and you’re looking at ninety-thousand profit. (Minus transport fees.)

I have read from a few reports that the amount of illegal refrigerants flowing into Europe equals nearly twenty percent of the yearly F-Gas quota. So, best case Europe is looking at one-hundred and twenty percent of their HFC quota. This number could be even higher as there is no good way to measure all illegal imports. It is easy to see why Europe is having such an illegal refrigerant problem. Something has to be done to shrink these smuggler’s profit margins. Only then will we begin to see the number of illegal shipments shrink.

Other EU Struggles

Another struggle that the EU is facing is on non-refillable disposable cylinders.  These types of refrigerant containers have been banned in the EU since 2007. They were banned due to there always being a slight remainder of refrigerant gas leftover in the disposable cylinder. In some cases this leftover refrigerant can be as high as five percent. When disposed of this cylinder can leak out which in turn can harm the environment. The smugglers however see these disposable cylinders as another cost cutting point so that they can make even more profit on their illegal sales.

The last struggle that I have seen in Europe is online refrigerant sales.  There are refrigerants being sold on sites like Amazon, Ebay, and other EU specific sites. This wouldn’t be a problem if the buyer was certified and licensed to handle refrigerant, but in many cases the sellers on these websites do not ask for any certification details. In most cases they are willing to sell to anyone who wants it. This again, bypasses EU law. There is also no way to tell if these online sales are compliant with the F-Gas quota.

United States

The United States has not seen the scale of illegal refrigerants that Europe has. This is mostly due to the US still hanging onto HFC refrigerants. As I write this article, in April of 2019, there is still not formal HFC phase down plan for the US. Heck, we still haven’t even ratified the Kigali Amendment. Because of these factors the prices on HFCs have been relatively low. In fact, this year I am seeing some of the lowest prices on HFCs that I have seen in ten years.

That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect in the United States though. We have our problems as well. The first one I mentioned already in the European section, but I’ll mention it again here. In January 1st, of 2018 there was a new regulation that added HFC refrigerants to the refrigerant sales restriction. Before this rule, you could purchase a variety of HFCs on websites like Amazon.com or Ebay.com.  Shortly after the rule went into place there were a few stragglers on Amazon.com but after some more time the refrigerant listings on Amazon began to dissipate. The same story cannot be said for Ebay. I can pull up the website today and find numerous listings for R-22, R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, and more.  Now, in Ebay’s defense most of these listings ask for an EPA certification number before purchasing… but there is no way to know if they all do. I am one-hundred percent certain that sales are done without collecting the proper information.

Cans

Another problem in the United States is non-compliant refrigerant cans. The Department of Transportation has four main groups of pressure ratings for aerosol cans. (Source from Cornell.edu) This includes your typical household products like furniture polish, hairspray, tire shine, etc.  What determines the correct rating is the pressure of the product being filled at one-hundred and thirty degrees Fahrenheit.  The required ratings are below.

  • <140 psig = 2N (Non-Spec)
  • 140-160 psig = 2P
  • 160-180 psig = 2Q
  • >180 psig = Special Permit

R-134a at one-hundred and thirty degrees Fahrenheit is rated at 199 psig. As you can see, this puts 134a well outside the range of the 2Q can type. Products like refrigerants that are routinely higher than 180 psig have to be packaged in either a cylinder or in an aerosol can with a special permit. There are companies who specialize in manufacturing and obtaining special permit cans. (One example is ITW Sexton.) As you can imagine, a specialized can costs more than a standard 2Q can.

In another example of companies cutting corners there have been R-134a cans imported into the United States in a 2Q can. This is not only against government regulation but it can also be quite dangerous. There is a reason for this regulation. If refrigerant is packaged in an improperly rated can then there is risk of explosion.

Now, I am not going to name company names here for legal reasons and also not to publically shame. It is distasteful to do so. Instead, I wanted to educate you , the reader, that if you are working with or purchasing refrigerants cans please ensure that the refrigerant is stored in the correct can type. Sure, you might save some money with a 2Q can but you’re in violation of DOT regulations and you are also risking safety of yourself and others.

Conclusion

In both cases, in the European Union and the United States, the majority of this illegal product is sourced from China. In the case of Europe the product is being sneaked in through Turkey or through Russia. There are many instances where trucks are stopped and searched in Belarus or Bulgaria for illegal refrigerants.

While the world knows about these illegal refrigerants the biggest struggle is enforcing the laws on the books. Many governments are failing to impose penalties on companies who are in violation. This applies both within the United States and Europe. As an example, in the US government agencies are aware of companies importing non-compliant cans, but so far, nothing has been done about it. (At least that I am aware of, if I am incorrect please let me know.)

Over in Europe, if the government does find an illegal shipment they will often charge the truck driver and fail to follow the source of the shipment and the company behind the shipment. The driver is the pawn and without tackling the source of the problems the illegal shipments will continue.  There will be a new driver right away that is willing to take the risk.

The refrigerant black market is only going to flourish unless governments decide to crack down. While it can never be truly stopped we can at least make a dent in the amount of illegal refrigerants by strictly enforcing the laws on the books and punishing those who are defying said laws.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing your home air conditioner, refrigerator, or even your vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

After a visual inspection the very next step for the most seasoned technicians is pulling out their gauges and checking the pressure and temperature. It just becomes second nature after enough calls. I have heard stories of rookie techs calling some of the pros on their team for help on a system that they’re stuck on. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Miami or in Fargo. It will never fail that one of the first questions the pros ask the rookie is what is your subcool and what is your superheat? Having  and understanding these numbers is key to figuring out what to do next.

But, these numbers won’t do you any good if you don’t know what refrigerant you are dealing with and what the refrigerant’s boiling point is at each pressure level. This article aims at providing you with just that information.

R-404A Pressure Chart

R-404A rose to prominence in the late 1990’s with the phasing out of CFC and HCFC refrigerants like R-12 and R-502. There had to be a replacement for the Ozone damaging refrigerants of the past and the successor was the HFC R-404A that we all know of today.

404A’s reign however was short lived. R-404A has one of the highest Global Warming Potential numbers of any modern day refrigerant and is known as a super pollutant. Because of this we are seeing various countries and manufacturers no longer using R-404A in new machinery. Instead, companies and countries are opting for more climate friendly refrigerants such as natural refrigerants, hydrocarbons, and newer less GWP heavy HFO refrigerants

If you would like to read more about R-404A  refrigerant please click here to be taken to our refrigerant fact sheet.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart:

°F °C PSI KPA
-40 -40.0 4.3 29.6
-35 -37.2 6.8 46.9
-30 -34.4 9.5 65.5
-25 -31.7 12.5 86.2
-20 -28.9 15.7 108.2
-15 -26.1 19.3 133.1
-10 -23.3 23.2 160.0
-5 -20.6 27.5 189.6
0 -17.8 32.1 221.3
5 -15.0 37 255.1
10 -12.2 42.4 292.3
15 -9.4 48.2 332.3
20 -6.7 54.5 375.8
25 -3.9 61.2 422.0
30 -1.1 68.4 471.6
35 1.7 76.1 524.7
40 4.4 84.4 581.9
45 7.2 93.2 642.6
50 10.0 103 710.2
55 12.8 113 779.1
60 15.6 123 848.1
65 18.3 135 930.8
70 21.1 147 1013.5
75 23.9 159 1096.3
80 26.7 173 1192.8
85 29.4 187 1289.3
90 32.2 202 1392.7
95 35.0 218 1503.1
100 37.8 234 1613.4
105 40.6 252 1737.5
110 43.3 270 1861.6
115 46.1 289 1992.6
120 48.9 310 2137.4
125 51.7 331 2282.2
130 54.4 353 2433.9
135 57.2 377 2599.3
140 60.0 401 2764.8

 

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

RefrigerantHQ's Pressure Charts

One of the very first steps when it comes to diagnosing your home air conditioner, refrigerator, or even your vehicle’s air conditioner is understanding the temperature and the current pressure that your system is operating at. Having these facts along with the saturation point, the subcool, and the superheat  numbers for the refrigerant you are working on are essential when it comes to really understanding what is going wrong with your system.

After a visual inspection the very next step for the most seasoned technicians is pulling out their gauges and checking the pressure and temperature. It just becomes second nature after enough calls. I have heard stories of rookie techs calling some of the pros on their team for help on a system that they’re stuck on. It doesn’t matter what the situation is. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Miami or in Fargo. It will never fail that one of the first questions the pros ask the rookie is what is your subcool and what is your superheat? Having  and understanding these numbers is key to figuring out what to do next.

But, these numbers won’t do you any good if you don’t know what refrigerant you are dealing with and what the refrigerant’s boiling point is at each pressure level. This article aims at providing you with just that information.

R-410A Pressure Chart

R-410A, or Puron, is one of the most popular refrigerants in today’s modern world. However, if you rewind just fifteen or twenty years you would find that very little people even knew about it. Most contractors and technicians worked with R-22 systems for home and commercial air conditioning. R-22 had been the standard bearer refrigerant for nearly fifty years. However, R-22 harmed the Ozone Layer and a replacement refrigerant needed to be found. This is where our friend R-410A came into play. New machines from 2010 and onwards were banned from using R-22. Instead, they were outfitted with R-410A. 

If you would like to read more about R-410A  refrigerant please click here to be taken to our refrigerant fact sheet.

Let’s take a look at our pressure chart:

°F °C PSI KPA
–37.7 -38.7 12 82.7
–34.7 -37.0 14 96.5
–32.0 -35.6 16 110.3
–29.4 -34.1 18 124.1
–36.9 -38.3 20 137.9
–24.5 -31.4 22 151.7
–22.2 -30.1 24 165.5
–20.0 -29.0 26 179.3
–17.9 -27.7 28 193.1
–15.8 -26.6 30 206.8
–13.8 -25.4 32 220.6
–11.9 -24.4 34 234.4
–10.1 -23.4 36 248.2
–8.3 -22.4 38 262.0
–6.5 -21.4 40 275.8
–4.5 -20.3 42 289.6
–3.2 -19.6 44 303.4
–1.6 -18.7 46 317.2
0 -17.8 48 330.9
1.5 -16.9 50 344.7
3 -16.1 52 358.5
4.5 -15.3 54 372.3
5.9 -14.5 56 386.1
7.3 -13.7 58 399.9
8.6 -13.0 60 413.7
10 -12.2 62 427.5
11.3 -11.5 64 441.3
12.6 -10.8 66 455.1
13.8 -10.1 68 468.8
15.1 -9.4 70 482.6
16.3 -8.7 72 496.4
17.5 -8.1 74 510.2
18.7 -7.4 76 524.0
19.8 -6.8 78 537.8
21 -6.1 80 551.6
22.1 -5.5 82 565.4
23.2 -4.9 84 579.2
24.3 -4.3 86 592.9
25.4 -3.7 88 606.7
26.4 -3.1 90 620.5
27.4 -2.6 92 634.3
28.5 -1.9 94 648.1
29.5 -1.4 96 661.9
30.5 -0.8 98 675.7
31.2 -0.4 100 689.5
32.2 0.1 102 703.3
33.2 0.7 104 717.1
34.1 1.2 106 730.8
35.1 1.7 108 744.6
35.5 1.9 110 758.4
36.9 2.7 112 772.2
37.8 3.2 114 786.0
38.7 3.7 116 799.8
39.5 4.2 118 813.6
40.5 4.7 120 827.4
41.3 5.2 122 841.2
42.2 5.7 124 855.0
43 6.1 126 868.7
43.8 6.6 128 882.5
44.7 7.1 130 896.3
45.5 7.5 132 910.1
46.3 7.9 134 923.9
47.1 8.4 136 937.7
47.9 8.8 138 951.5
48.7 9.3 140 965.3
49.5 9.7 142 979.1
50.3 10.2 144 992.8
51.1 10.6 146 1006.6
51.8 11.0 148 1020.4
52.5 11.4 150 1034.2
53.3 11.8 152 1048.0
54 12.2 154 1061.8
54.8 12.7 156 1075.6
55.5 13.1 158 1089.4
56.2 13.4 160 1103.2
57 13.9 162 1117.0
57.7 14.3 164 1130.7
58.4 14.7 166 1144.5
59 15.0 168 1158.3
59.8 15.4 170 1172.1
60.5 15.8 172 1185.9
61.1 16.2 174 1199.7
61.8 16.6 176 1213.5
62.5 16.9 178 1227.3
63.1 17.3 180 1241.1
63.8 17.7 182 1254.8
64.5 18.1 184 1268.6
65.1 18.4 186 1282.4
65.8 18.8 188 1296.2
66.4 19.1 190 1310.0
67 19.4 192 1323.8
67.7 19.8 194 1337.6
68.3 20.2 196 1351.4
68.9 20.5 198 1365.2
69.5 20.8 200 1379.0
70.1 21.2 202 1392.7
70.7 21.5 204 1406.5
71.4 21.9 206 1420.3
72 22.2 208 1434.1
72.6 22.6 210 1447.9
73.2 22.9 212 1461.7
73.8 23.2 214 1475.5
74.3 23.5 216 1489.3
74.9 23.8 218 1503.1
75.5 24.2 220 1516.8
76.1 24.5 222 1530.6
76.7 24.8 224 1544.4
77.2 25.1 226 1558.2
77.8 25.4 228 1572.0
78.4 25.8 230 1585.8
78.9 26.1 232 1599.6
79.5 26.4 234 1613.4
80 26.7 236 1627.2
80.6 27.0 238 1641.0
81.1 27.3 240 1654.7
81.6 27.6 242 1668.5
82.2 27.9 244 1682.3
82.7 28.2 246 1696.1
83.3 28.5 248 1709.9
83.8 28.8 250 1723.7
84.3 29.1 252 1737.5
84.8 29.3 254 1751.3
85.4 29.7 256 1765.1
85.9 29.9 258 1778.8
86.4 30.2 260 1792.6
86.9 30.5 262 1806.4
87.4 30.8 264 1820.2
87.9 31.1 266 1834.0
88.4 31.3 268 1847.8
88.9 31.6 270 1861.6
89.4 31.9 272 1875.4
89.9 32.2 274 1889.2
90.4 32.4 276 1903.0
90.9 32.7 278 1916.7
91.4 33.0 280 1930.5
91.9 33.3 282 1944.3
92.4 33.6 284 1958.1
92.8 33.8 286 1971.9
93.3 34.1 288 1985.7
93.8 34.3 290 1999.5
94.3 34.6 292 2013.3
94.8 34.9 294 2027.1
95.2 35.1 296 2040.8
95.7 35.4 298 2054.6
96.2 35.7 300 2068.4
96.6 35.9 302 2082.2
97.1 36.2 304 2096.0
97.5 36.4 306 2109.8
98 36.7 308 2123.6
98.4 36.9 310 2137.4
98.9 37.2 312 2151.2
99.3 37.4 314 2165.0
99.7 37.6 316 2178.7
100.2 37.9 318 2192.5
100.7 38.2 320 2206.3
101.1 38.4 322 2220.1
101.6 38.7 324 2233.9
102 38.9 326 2247.7
102.4 39.1 328 2261.5
102.9 39.4 330 2275.3
103.3 39.6 332 2289.1
103.7 39.8 334 2302.8
104.2 40.1 336 2316.6
104.6 40.3 338 2330.4
105.1 40.6 340 2344.2
105.4 40.8 342 2358.0
105.8 41.0 344 2371.8
106.3 41.3 346 2385.6
106.6 41.4 348 2399.4
107.1 41.7 350 2413.2
107.5 41.9 352 2427.0
107.9 42.2 354 2440.7
108.3 42.4 356 2454.5
108.8 42.7 358 2468.3
109.2 42.9 360 2482.1
109.6 43.1 362 2495.9
110 43.3 364 2509.7
110.4 43.6 366 2523.5
110.8 43.8 368 2537.3
111.2 44.0 370 2551.1
111.6 44.2 372 2564.9
112 44.4 374 2578.6
112.4 44.7 376 2592.4
112.6 44.8 378 2606.2
113.1 45.1 380 2620.0
113.5 45.3 382 2633.8
113.9 45.5 384 2647.6
114.3 45.7 386 2661.4
114.7 45.9 388 2675.2
115 46.1 390 2689.0
115.5 46.4 392 2702.7
115.8 46.6 394 2716.5
116.2 46.8 396 2730.3
116.6 47.0 398 2744.1
117 47.2 400 2757.9
117.3 47.4 402 2771.7
117.7 47.6 404 2785.5
118.1 47.8 406 2799.3
118.5 48.1 408 2813.1
118.8 48.2 410 2826.9
119.2 48.4 412 2840.6
119.6 48.7 414 2854.4
119.9 48.8 416 2868.2
120.3 49.1 418 2882.0
120.7 49.3 420 2895.8
121 49.4 422 2909.6
121.4 49.7 424 2923.4
121.7 49.8 426 2937.2
122.1 50.1 428 2951.0
122.5 50.3 430 2964.7
122.8 50.4 432 2978.5
123.2 50.7 434 2992.3
123.5 50.8 436 3006.1
123.9 51.1 438 3019.9
124.2 51.2 440 3033.7
124.6 51.4 442 3047.5
124.9 51.6 444 3061.3
125.3 51.8 446 3075.1
125.6 52.0 448 3088.9
126 52.2 450 3102.6
126.3 52.4 452 3116.4
126.6 52.6 454 3130.2
127 52.8 456 3144.0
127.3 52.9 458 3157.8
127.7 53.2 460 3171.6
128 53.3 462 3185.4
128.3 53.5 464 3199.2
128.7 53.7 466 3213.0
129 53.9 468 3226.7
129.3 54.1 470 3240.5
129.7 54.3 472 3254.3
130 54.4 474 3268.1
130.3 54.6 476 3281.9
130.7 54.8 478 3295.7
131 55.0 480 3309.5
131.3 55.2 482 3323.3
131.6 55.3 484 3337.1
132 55.6 486 3350.9
132.3 55.7 488 3364.6
132.6 55.9 490 3378.4
132.9 56.1 492 3392.2
133.3 56.3 494 3406.0
133.6 56.4 496 3419.8
133.9 56.6 498 3433.6
134 56.7 500 3447.4
134.5 56.9 502 3461.2
134.8 57.1 504 3475.0
135.2 57.3 506 3488.7
135.5 57.5 508 3502.5
135.8 57.7 510 3516.3
136.1 57.8 512 3530.1
136.4 58.0 514 3543.9
136.7 58.2 516 3557.7
137 58.3 518 3571.5
137.3 58.5 520 3585.3
137.6 58.7 522 3599.1
137.9 58.8 524 3612.9
138.3 59.1 526 3626.6
138.6 59.2 528 3640.4
138.9 59.4 530 3654.2
139.2 59.6 532 3668.0
139.5 59.7 534 3681.8
139.8 59.9 536 3695.6
140.1 60.1 538 3709.4
140.4 60.2 540 3723.2
141 60.6 544 3750.7
141.6 60.9 548 3778.3
142.1 61.2 552 3805.9
142.7 61.5 556 3833.5
143.3 61.8 560 3861.1
143.9 62.2 564 3888.6
144.5 62.5 568 3916.2
145 62.8 572 3943.8
145.6 63.1 576 3971.4
146.2 63.4 580 3999.0
146.7 63.7 584 4026.5
147.3 64.1 588 4054.1
147.9 64.4 592 4081.7
148.4 64.7 596 4109.3
149 65.0 600 4136.9
149.5 65.3 604 4164.4
150.1 65.6 608 4192.0
150.6 65.9 612 4219.6
151.2 66.2 616 4247.2
151.7 66.5 620 4274.8
152.3 66.8 624 4302.3
152.8 67.1 628 4329.9
153.4 67.4 632 4357.5
153.9 67.7 636 4385.1
154.5 68.1 640 4412.6
155 68.3 644 4440.2
155.5 68.6 648 4467.8
156.1 68.9 652 4495.4
156.6 69.2 656 4523.0
157.1 69.5 660 4550.5
157.7 69.8 664 4578.1
158.2 70.1 668 4605.7
158.7 70.4 672 4633.3
159.2 70.7 676 4660.9
159.8 71.0 680 4688.4
160.3 71.3 684 4716.0
160.8 71.6 688 4743.6
161.3 71.8 692 4771.2
161.8 72.1 696 4798.8

Conclusion

There you have it folks. I hope this article was helpful and if you find that something is inaccurate here in my chart please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I have sourced this the best I could but there is always going to be conflicting data.  I’ve seen it multiple times on various refrigerants. I’ll search for a refrigerant’s pressure chart and get various results all showing different pounds per square inch temperatures.

The aim with this article is to give you accurate information so again, if you see anything incorrect please let me know by contacting me here. On top of this post we are also working on a comprehensive refrigerant pressure/temperature listing. The goal is to have every refrigerant out there listed with a pressure/temperature chart that is easily available. 

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

facts

R-125 is one of the most common refrigerants across the world yet so many people have never heard of it. While it is rare to find a direct R-125 refrigerant application, it is very common to find some of the blended refrigerants that R-125 contributes to.

The ever popular R-410A and R-404A are blended HFC refrigerants and one of the ingredients in both of these blends is R-125. Along with these there are a variety of other refrigerants comprised of R-125. So, while you may not actually see R-125 in a direct use application you will see it’s blended version of 410A, 404A, and other refrigerants in nearly every modern application.

In this article we’re going to take a deep dive on this refrigerant looking at the facts, points of note, the past, present, and what we can expect in the future for R-125.

The Facts

Name:R-125
Name - Scientific:Pentafluoroethane
Name (2):Freon™ 125
Name (3):HFC-125
Name (4)Genetron HFC 125
Name (5)Khladon 125
Name (6)Suva 125
Name (7)FC-125
Classification:HFC Refrigerant
Chemistry:C2HF5
Status:Phasing Down Across The World
Future:Will Most Likely Be Phased Out in 10-20 Years
Application:Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Vending/Ice Machines
Application (2):Refrigerated Transport, Industrial Refrigeration, and Much More
Replacement For:Mainly R-22 and R-502 Through Blends
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:3,500
Global Warming Risk:VERY HIGH
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Lubricant Required:Synthetic Oil - Polyol Ester Oil or POE
Boiling Point:-48.5°C (-55.4°F)
Critical Temperature:66.18°C (151.124°F)
Critical Pressure:3,629 kpa
Auto ignition Temperature:Unknown
Molar Mass:120.02 g/mol
Density:1.53 g/cm3 (liquid at -48.5 °C)[1]
Melting Point:−103.0 °C (−153.4 °F; 170.2 K)
Vapor Pressure:1414.05 kPa (at 25 °C)
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Faint Ethereal Odor
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Packaging:Bought in Bulk for Mixing - Cylinders are Rare
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

R-125 Pros & Cons

As we all know there are no perfect refrigerants out there. Across all of the various refrigerant classifications and types there are always going to be pros and cons. Look at ammonia (R-717) for example. It is widely accepted as one of the best refrigerants out there, but it has a safety rating of B2L. That rating means that ammonia is not only slightly flammable but is also toxic. So, while you have an amazingly efficient refrigerant you also have a extraordinary safety concern when using ammonia.

When determining a refrigerant to use there are a variety of factors that are considered. These can be efficiency, safety flammability/toxicity, climate Ozone/Global Warming Potential, and operating pressures. Whatever refrigerant  that checks the most boxes will usually end up on top.

With those factors in mind let’s look at the pros and cons of R-125:

Pros

  • The big reason R-125 took off in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s was due to it NOT having any Ozone Depletion Potential. Remember folks, that the R-125 blends replaced the Ozone damaging HCFC and CFC refrigerants such as R-22 and R-502.
  • R-125 is very versatile and it can be found in nearly twenty different blends including R-410A, R-404A, and R-407C. Even today engineers are trying new blends of R-125.
  • The other big Pro with R-125 is it’s safety rating. It is rated as an A1 from ASHRAE. The A1 rating signifies that R-125 is not toxic and is not flammable. Please note though, that while R-125 is non-toxic if enough vapor is leaked into an enclosed area it can displace oxygen which can eventually lead to asphyxiation.

Cons

  • The only con that I know for R-125 is a big one. In the last decade or so there has been a lot of focus on Greenhouse Gases and the overall Global Warming Potential (GWP) of those gases. R-125 is a Greenhouse Gas and has a GWP of thirty-five hundred. It is known as a ‘Super-Pollutant.’ R-125 has one of the higher GWPs of any modern refrigerant. For a comparison the HFC R-32 refrigerant has a GWP of only six-hundred and seventy-five.

Notes on R-125

Alright folks so we’ve got the pros and cons out of the way now let’s take a look at some points of note on R-125.

R-125 came about in the mid 1990’s and early 2000’s when the world was looking for replacements to the popular CFC and HCFC refrigerants R-502 and R-22. These previous refrigerants were found to be harming the Ozone layer and were phased out by the Montreal Protocol. R-125 was safe, it was cheap, and it was efficient. R-125, and it’s many blends, were the solution to the phasing out of CFCs and HCFCs.

As I had mentioned before, R-125 is the building block of many refrigerants that we see and use throughout the world today. We’ve mentioned some of the more popular blends like 410A and 404A but now let’s take a look at all of the other blends that are out there:

  • R-402A HCFC R-125/290/22 (60±2/2±1/38±2)
  • R-402B HCFC R-125/290/22 (38±2/2±1/60±2)
  • R-408A HCFC R-125/143a/22 (7±2/46±1/47±2)
  • R-417A HFC R-125/134a/600 (46.6±1.1/50±1/3.4+.1,–.4)
  • R-417B HFC R-125/134a/600 (79±1/18.3±1/2.7+.1,–.5)
  • R-419A HFC R-125/134a/E170 (77±1/19±1/4±1)
  • R-421A HFC R-125/134a (58±1/42±1)
  • R-421B HFC R-125/134a (85±1/15±1)
  • R-422A HFC R-125/134a/600a (85.1±1/11.5±1/3.4+.1,–.4)
  • R-422B HFC R-125/134a/600a (55±1/42±1/3+.1,–.5)
  • R-422C HFC R-125/134a/600a (82±1/15±1/3+.1,–.5)
  • R-422D HFC R-125/134a/600a (65.1+.9,–1.1/31.5±1/3.4+.1,–.4)
  • R-424A HFC R-125/134a/600a/600/601a (50.5±1/47±1/.9+.1,–.2/1+.1,+.2/.6+.1,–.2)
  • R-426A HFC R-125/134a/600/601a (5.1±1/93±1/1.3+.1,–.2/.6+.1,–.2)
  • R-428A HFC R-125/143a/290/600a (77.5±1/20±1/.6+.1,–.2/1.9+.1,–.2)
  • R-434A HFC R-125/143a/134a/600a (63.2±1/18±1/16±1/2.8+.1,–.2)
  • R-437A HFC R-125/134a/600/601 (19.5+.5,–1.8/78.5+1.5,–.7/1.4+.1,–.2/.6+.1,–.2)
  • R-507[A] HFC R-125/143a (50/50)
  • R-404A HFC R-125/143a/134a (44±2/52±1/4±2)
  • R-410A HFC R-32/125 (50+.5,–1.5/50+1.5,–.5)

As you can see from the listing above there are a variety of blends and applications that can be used within these blends. R-125 is by far one of the most versatile refrigerants out there today. This is why this refrigerant can be found in nearly every home and building that utilizes air conditioning or refrigeration.Along with being used as a refrigerant R-125 is also used in fire suppression systems. This is mainly used when water is not advised as fire extinguisher option. This could be in laboratories with expensive equipment, in museums, or banks.

There was a worldwide shortage of R-125 during the summer of 2017. The majority of R-125 is sourced from China and something happened over the spring and summer of 2017 that caused the shortage to ripple across the marketplace. The most common explanation that I found was that the chemical Flurospar experienced a forty percent price increase towards the beginning of 2017. (Flurospar is a main ingredient in the R-125 refrigerant.) This price increase caused a direct effect on the price of R-125 raising it by one-hundred and thirty percent. The price increase on Flurospar was blamed on China’s strengthening of environmental laws that directly affect the mining industry. Depending on where you were in the world when this shortage hit you could have seen your prices raise by forty or fifty percent on 125 blends. In some cases though, especially over in the European Union, prices shot up hundreds of percents.

While R-125 doesn’t deplete the Ozone it does have an extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP). The GWP’s zeroing scale is Carbon Dioxide (R-744). Carbon Dioxide has a GWP of one whereas R-125 has a GWP of thirty-five hundred. Obviously, the higher the GWP number the more damage the refrigerant does to the environment.

It is due to high GWP number that we are beginning to see various R-125 blends being phased down and in some cases completely phased out. While most countries and municipalities have focused on R-404A it is only a matter of time before everyone sets their sights on R-410A.

R-125 Past, Present, & Future

I won’t get into all of the details here, instead I will give a brief overview of what happened, where we are today, and what will be happening in the future. Firstly, let’s look at the rise of CFCs and HCFCs. These refrigerants rose to prominence in the 1950’s and 60’s. They were safe, cheap, and efficient. It was in the 1980’s that it was discovered that these refrigerants were also harming the Ozone layer. To put a stop to this the world introduced the Montreal Protocol. This signed treaty aimed at phasing out Ozone damaging refrigerants as well as other chemicals.

With the CFCs and HCFCs refrigerants going away an alternative, non Ozone depleting, refrigerant was needed. This is where the HFCs came into play. In the mid 1990’s R-12 was phased out and replaced with the HFC R-134a. A few years later is when we began to see the blended refrigerants (Made of R-125) start to replace R-22 and R-502 applications.

Ever since then HFCs and R-125 have been the standard bearer for a variety of applications including home and commercial air conditioners, supermarket refrigerators/freezers, vending machines, ice machines, refrigerated transport, and so much more.

While the Ozone was fixed the new HFC refrigerants were found to have a large effect on Global Warming due to their high Global Warming Potential (GWP). The higher the GWP the more damage the refrigerant did to the atmosphere. Pressure began to mount in Europe, Asia, and in America to slow the use of HFCs and to begin looking for alternatives.

In the European Union there are regulations in place already that are phasing down and eventually completely out HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and eventually R-410A. While here in America there isn’t an exact plan on when HFCs will be phased down. At one time there was through the Environmental Protection Agency, but their proposed rules were overturned by a Federal Court. There is hope though. A select few states have begun moving forward with their own HFC phase down regulations. Some of these states include California, New York, and Washington.

It doesn’t matter if we have a federally backed phase down program through the EPA or if we have a patchwork of policies and regulations that vary state to state. Whatever happens we can be assured that HFCs will be a thing of the past very soon.

Conclusion

While R-125 may be in nearly every household and commercial building it’s future is anything but bright. With each passing year more and more pressure is put on the use of R-125 and it’s blends. The Global Warming Potential is just too high, especially when there are alternative refrigerants coming out every year.

We may be stuck with R-125 for another decade or so but it’s time is limited and the countdown has begun. R-404A is the first target and then once that has been phased down the world will set it’s sights on R-410A.

For now, in 2019, we will stay the course of R-125 usage.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Greetings folks! Another month is nearly wrapped up and we are slowly inching towards spring. We’ve got a few more hard weeks here in Kansas but I’m looking forward to the day when I can start planting some trees.

I’m writing this article today as I was informed of more volatility in refrigerant pricing. Even though we’re only two months in, 2019 is certainty turning out to be an interesting year. In late fall early winter I always take the time to do my refrigerant pricing prediction articles. In these articles I do my best to predict what prices will be the following year by weighing a variety of factors and considerations. Some years I miss and other years I hit the mark. It looks like this year is going to be a miss.

Towards the beginning of January a notification went out to various refrigerant distributors from two refrigerant manufacturers. I cannot and will not names here, but the notification stated that there would be a six percent increase on your everyday refrigerant including R-134a, R-410A, and R-22. I had assumed that this increase would be the start of a trend of upward momentum for the year. I was wrong, very wrong.

Pricing

What surprised me is that prices are going down and down. They are at levels I haven’t seen in years. Let’s take a look:

R-134A – Thirty Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $85
  • Jan 2019 – $88
  • Feb 2019 – $70

Most people had thought we had reached the bottom of the barrel when it came to R-134a pricing. This was especially the case when that notification was sent out in January stating that prices were going up. People were used to paying around $90-$100 a cylinder.

This new price of $70 is the lowest I have seen in years. In fact it’s close to where it was when I used to buy R-134a in bulk back in 2008. Back then I was paying around $61-$65… but that was before tariffs. I am really amazed to see the price back to almost pre-tariff levels. Who knows how much lower it will go.

R-410A – Twenty-Five Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $140
  • Fall 2018 – $65
  • Jan 2019 – $68
  • Feb 2019 – $56

Just like R-134a, R-410A is going down and down. At this point it’s difficult to forecast what will happen. I honestly don’t know folks. Will we keep going down, or will we start creep back up as the summer season sets in?

R-22 – Thirty Pound Cylinder Pricing:

  • Fall 2017 – $550
  • Fall 2018 – $350
  • Jan 2019 – $410
  • Feb 2019 – $300 or Under

Obviously, the big story here is R-22. There are only ten months left until R-22 is completely phased out across the United States (January 1st, 2020). Everyone had assumed that the price would go up and up as we approached closer to that deadline. What actually happened is that we saw a spike in pricing hit in the summer of 2017. At certain points it was $600-$700 a cylinder. However, in 2018 the price started to go down and down.

There could be a resurgence in pricing as the summer season sets in and people began to realize that R-22 will be going away. But, we may also have just too much overstock in the market place which is causing prices to stay low.

Conclusion

The refrigerant market is anything but stable this year folks. It is tough to tell when the right time to buy is. You don’t want to get stuck with overpriced product but you also want the opportunity to buy low and sell high. Time will only tell. It’s as much as a guessing game for you as it is for me.

If you are interested in purchasing refrigerant please check out our bulk refrigerants page by clicking here.  We are partnered with one of the leading distributors in the country and will get you a competitive price in today’s marketplace.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

facts

Today the HFC R-404A is one of the most commonly used refrigerants in the United States and in the world. You can find it most commercial refrigerators/freezers, in vending and ice machines, in refrigerated transport, and in specific industrial applications.

404A was originally implemented as a replacement option for the now banned CFC R-502. R-502 was widely used throughout all of the applications we mentioned above until 1995/1996 when it was phased out entirely due to it’s Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP). While 404A has been around for decades it’s future may be short lived due to it’s high Global Warming Potential (GWP).

In this post we are going to take an in-depth look at R-404A. In our first section we’ll cover all of the facts, then the pros/cons, points of note, and the history of R-404A.

The Facts

Name:R-404A
Name - Scientific:Blend of R-125, R-143a, & R-134a
Name (2):404A
Name (3):HFC-404A
Classification:HFC Refrigerant - Blend
Chemistry:Pesudo-Azeotropic Blend
Chemistry (2):R-125 Pentafluroethane (44%)
Chemistry (3):R-143a 1,1,1-Trifluoroethane (52%)
Chemistry (4):R-134a 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane (4%)
R-125 Chemistry:44±2% C2HF5
R-1143a Chemistry:52±1% C2H3F3
R-134a Chemistry:4±2% C2H2F4
Status:Phasing Down Across The World
Future:Will Be Phased Out in 10 Years
Application:Low to Medium Temperature Systems
Application (2):Supermarkets, Gas Stations, Vending/Ice Machines
Application (3):Refrigerated Transport & Industrial Refrigeration
Replacement For:CFC R-502, R-12, & R-22
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:3,922
Global Warming Risk:VERY HIGH
Toxicity Levels:A (No Toxicity Identified.)
Flammability Levels:Class 1 -No Flame Propagation.
Lubricant Required:Synthetic Oil - Polyol Ester Oil or POE
Boiling Point:-46.6° Celsius or -51.88° Fahrenheit
Temperature Glide:0.8
Critical Temperature:72.14° Celsius or 161.852° Fahrenheit
Critical Pressure:3.735 MPA or 541.716 PSI
Auto ignition Temperature:Not Determiend
Manufacturers:Various Including: Honeywell, Chemours, Arkema, Mexichem, Chinese, etc.
Manufacturing Facilities:All Over Including: USA, Mexico, EU, China, and others.
Form:Gas
Color:Colorless Liquid & Vapor
Odor:Faint Ethereal Odor
EPA Certification Required:Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Require Certification to Purchase?Yes, 608 certification required by January 1st, 2018.
Cylinder Color:Orange
Cylinder Design:
R-404A 24 pound jug cylinder
R-404A 24 pound jug cylinder
Cylinder Design (2):Twenty-four pound cylinder
Price Point:Medium - $70-$160 a cylinder.
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?Click Here to Purchase Cylinders
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

R-404A Pressure Chart

Knowing the pressure and the temperatures associated to the machine you are working on is essential to being able to diagnose any possible issues. Without knowing the temperatures you are more or less walking blind. These pressure checks give you the facts so that you can move onto the next step of your diagnosis. Instead of pasting a large table of information here I will instead direct you to our specific R-404A refrigerant temperature page. This can be found by clicking here.

R-404A Pros & Cons

Regardless of what refrigerant you are looking at they all have their own pros and cons. There is no perfect refrigerant. There may never be. Ammonia for example is deemed one of the best refrigerants in the world… but it’s extremely toxic and can be deadly in high amounts.

R-404A has it’s own pros and cons. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Pros:

  • R-404A provided an immediate replacement product for both R-12, R-22 and R-502. This allowed the world to stop using Ozone depleting refrigerants. R-404A operated at comparable physical and thermodynamic properties that R-502 did which made transitioning to new systems or retrofitting older systems a much easier task.
  • 404A is rated as an A1 from ASHRAE. That means that it is non-toxic and non-flammable. While this may not seem like a big deal for HFC refrigerants, this rating is becoming more and more important when it comes to looking for a more environmentally friendly replacement refrigerant.

Cons:

  • The biggest con with R-404A is it’s extremely high Global Warming Potential (GWP). It’s GWP rating is three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty. This number makes it one of the absolute highest GWP refrigerant that is widely used in the world today.
  • In some applications 404A is not the most efficient. There are other refrigerants that can save five to ten percent efficiency. (R-134a for example.) The lost efficiency with 404A can translate into more energy and more money spent when compared to other refrigerants. Refer to our ‘R-404A Potential Replacements’ section for some of these more efficient refrigerants.

Notes on R-404A

Just like with our other facts sheets I’d like to take some time in this section and go over some facts and other points of note on R-404A refrigerants:

  • R-404A began seeing usage in 1996 after the phase out of CFC R-502 due to it’s Ozone Depletion Potential.
  • R-404A is a ternary refrigerant blend consisting of the HFC R-125 (forty-four percent), HFC R-143a (fifty-two percent), and HFC R-134a (four percent).
  • R-404A is used across a variety of low and medium temperature applications including super market freezers/refrigerators, vending machines, ice machines, refrigerated transport, and industrial refrigerant systems.
  • Starting in 1996, 404A was the primary refrigerant for the above mentioned applications for over twenty years.
  • R-404A is non toxic and non flammable and has an A1 rating from ASHRAE. Note that if 404A is pressurized after being mixed with air the chance of flammability increases. You should never mix 404A with air under.
  • R-404A is heavier then air and will displace oxygen in a room if a large enough quantity is leaked. This can be said for various types of refrigerants though and is not unique to 404A.
  • When charging systems with R-404A the refrigerant must be in a liquid state. If done in a gaseous state you risk damaging the entire system.
  • In some cases R-404A can replace R-22 systems when the proper retrofitting is done, but this may not make sense in the long run due to my next point.
  • R-404A is being phased down and in some cases completely phased out due to it’s high Global Warming Potential and it’s detrimental effect on the climate.
  • In many cases R-404A is the first HFC refrigerant targeted for phasing down HFCs due to it’s extremely high GWP of nearly four-thousand.
  • Some refrigerant manufacturers and distributors have already announced they will no longer be making or selling R-404A.
  • Europe will input a ban on any new stationary 404A systems in the year 2020. (Along with any other refrigerants that have a GWP higher then twenty-five hundred.) 
  • Along with the ban on new systems the European Union has also issued import and production limits on R-404A.
  • Due to these production/import limits Europe has seen crazy prices come on R-404A. At some points in the past few years it rose over seven-hundred percent in one season.
  • Prices in the United States have remained relatively stable the past year or so, but in 2017 there was a large increase due to a shortage of flurospar in China.

R-404A Possible Replacements

In the initial switch from CFC/HCFCs over to HFCs in the 1990’s there was a rush to find a quick and fast alternative refrigerant. Before HFCs a lot of supermarkets were using both R-12 and R-502 for their systems. (R-12 was used for the refrigerators and R-502 was used for freezers.)

At the time the world switched over to R-404A there was little other choice and most business owners and contractors consolidated their refrigerators and freezers over to one refrigerant to simplify things. That is why you see 404A nearly everywhere in these types of applications.

When we do completely phase out R-404A it will not be like it was in the 1990’s again. No folks, this time we are going to go about it smarter. (This is me being optimistic.) Instead of superseding every machines and application to a new specified refrigerant we will be looking at each application specifically an determining the best refrigerant for it’s needs. This is why we’ll see R-290 propane used in some 404A applications and an HFO refrigerant used in a different 404A application. When it’s all said and done we should see a diversified refrigerant market in place of the standard 404A that we see today.

At this time it’s impossible to list every 404A alternative or option out there. Things are always changing and evolving. The ‘perfect’ replacement may be discovered one month from now.

All that being said, let’s take a look at some of the possible R-404A replacements listed below. Just keep in mind that none of these are a ‘fix all’ solution. These refrigerants range from natural refrigerants, to HFOs, and the occasional HFC.

  • R-448A
  • R-449B
  • R-449A
  • R-448A
  • R-452A
  • R-455A
  • R-407A
  • R-407F
  • R-442A
  • R-290
  • R-744

R-404A History

The Past

To understand the history of R-404 we first have to travel back to the 1960’s. It was then that the CFC refrigerant R-502 was invented. R-502 was a blended refrigerant using HCFCs and CFCs. It was comprised of of R-22 (48.8%) and R-115 (51.2%). This new refrigerant R-502 offered a lower discharge temperature and improved capacity when compared to R-22.

Once invented R-502’s usage exploded across low and medium temperature applications. Over the next thirty years R-502 was the dominant refrigerant for a variety of applications including super market refrigerators/freezers, industrial refrigeration, vending machines, and in refrigerated transport.

For thirty-five years R-502 reigned supreme, but like all good things it had to come to an end. In 1995 and 1996 R-502 was phased out for all new machines. 502 was just another one of the many CFC and HCFC refrigerants that have been phased out over the past twenty to thirty years.

These refrigerants were phased out due to the chlorine that they contained. When the refrigerant was vented or leaked it would move into the atmosphere where the chlorine would damage the Ozone Layer. While there wasn’t an official ‘hole’ in the Ozone there was a thinning of the layer above Antarctica. The Ozone layer protects us from radiation and a thinning of said layer can result in a whole host of problems including various cancers.

Scientists noticed this thinning in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Once the seriousness of the problem was revealed world leaders got together in Montreal and signed a treaty that most all of us know by now, The Montreal Protocol. This treaty aimed at phasing down and eventually completely out Ozone damaging chemicals. This included insulation, pesticides, refrigerants, and many other applications.

When R-502’s turn for phase down came in 1995 a new alternative refrigerant needed to be chosen. At this time the world turned towards HFC refrigerants. One of the very first phase outs was R-12 for automotive applications. It’s replacement was the HFC R-134a. It was a logical move to use R-404A as R-502’s replacement as 404A was an HFC and it partly blended from R-134a.

Once R-404A was implemented in the 1990’s it was the standard bearer for the next thirty years. But now, just like R-502, it’s time has come.

Present Day

Today, as I write this article in 2019, R-404A is being phased down and in some cases completely out across the world. The European Union has import and production limits set on R-404A and have plans to completely phase it out over the next few years.

This time though folks the phase out has nothing to do with the Ozone Layer. This time it has to deal what’s known as Global Warming Potential (GWP). GWP is a measurement of how much heat a greenhouse gas traps within the atmosphere. The higher the number the worse the product is for the environment. Like with every scale there has to be a zeroing measurement. In this case it is Carbon Dioxide (R-744). The GWP on R-744 is one. The GWP on R-404A is nearly four-thousand.

That number alone is why the world is pushing to get rid of R-404A as fast we can. Out of all of the HFCs R-404A is one of the absolute highest when it comes to GWP. While the European Union has already begun taking steps of a complete phase out the United States is quite a bit behind.

Originally, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule in 2015. This new rule was under the EPA’s SNAP and was titled, ‘Rule 20.’ This new rule aimed at phasing down HFCs across the country. They did this by deeming certain refrigerants would no longer be acceptable in specific applications. As an example, one of the stipulations was that R-134a would no longer be acceptable in 2021 model year vehicles. R-404A, along with R-134a, was one of the prime targets in these new regulations.

Over the next few years the industry moved on expecting these changes laid out in Rule 20 to take effect. It was in the summer of 2017 that a surprise ruling by a federal judge overturned all of the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20. The judge ruled in favor of Mexichem and Arkema (Two refrigerant manufacturers). While other companies, such as Chemours and Honeywell, appealed the ruling they eventually got nowhere and the judge’s ruling stood. It went as far as going to the Supreme Court but the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Now, as of 2019, there is no set phase down schedule of R-404A or other HFC refrigerants. The only bright spot is what’s known as the ‘United States Climate Alliance.’ This alliance formed after Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord. Their goal is to have a gathering of states that will enforce their own climate policy.

Future

Regardless of the politics across the United States and the world we can all be assured of one thing: R-404A is going away. When exactly it goes away is a different story though. Within the United States I predict us having a patchwork of different laws and regulations across the various states. While this is disorganized and confusing it does have some positive effects as well.

With the lack of a central federal policy on HFCs we have states taking matters into their own hands. If enough states get on board with these HFC phase down changes then air conditioning and refrigerator manufacturers will eventually throw in the towel on HFCs and began transitioning over to lesser GWP refrigerants. After all, it wouldn’t make sense to make a system that could only be sold in half of the country. Instead these companies will start manufacturing based on the states that have HFC phase down policies. This will allow them to still sell into all fifty states and prevent them from doing double work.

As we mentioned in our potential replacements section, there is not yet a perfect R-404A replacement option. Instead, we are having a variety of refrigerants show up as replacements for specific R-404A applications. As an example, instead of 404A in vending machines we will start using propane or isobutane. But, these refrigerants will not work for refrigerated transport or in larger charged systems.

Among these alternatives to 404A a war is brewing between natural refrigerants and HFO refrigerants. While HFOs have significantly lower GWP then HFC refrigerants they are still not perfect and still do have a GWP that is higher then the neutral carbon dioxide point. It is this reason why groups are pushing to skip HFOs and go with natural refrigerants entirely. At this time there is no saying what refrigerant will win the ‘war,’ but the predicted outcome I see is a good mix between the two. We’ll see all of the smaller to medium charged systems start using natural refrigerants and the larger systems still using fluorinated refrigerants such as HFCs and HFOs.

There may come a time in the not too distant future that a ‘perfect’ 404A alternative is discovered. But, for now, we are all stuck with our patchwork of alternative refrigerants. If you haven’t run into some of these already it’ll only be a matter of time.

Conclusion

Well folks, that about covers it for R-404A. I tried to cover absolutely everything that I could when it came to this refrigerant. If you find that I missed something or that if something is inaccurate please reach out to me and let me know.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Kigali Amendment

Just over two years ago there was a final meeting on what is known today as the ‘Kigali Amendment.’ This amendment added to the existing Montreal Protocol. As you all know, the Montreal Protocol originated in the 1980’s and aimed at phasing down CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This phase out aimed at stopping any further damage to the Earth’s Ozone layer. While the treaty did what it set out to, it also directly led to the rise of HFC refrigerants such as R-410A, R-134a, and R-404A. Now, no matter where you go you’re going to find HFC refrigerants. The good news is that the Ozone damaging Chlorine refrigerants are a thing of the past. The bad news is that HFCs aren’t perfect though and now this latest amendment has HFCs in it’s cross hairs.

It took seven years of meetings and careful planning but an agreement was made in October of 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. The amendment aimed at reducing HFC emissions by over eighty percent over the next thirty years. While it was signed by over one-hundred and sixty-seven countries, in order for the treaty to come into effect it had to be ratified by twenty separate countries governments before January 1st, 2019. This number was easily met and as I write this article today there are sixty-five countries that have ratified the HFC reducing amendment. There are many more expected to ratify over the next coming weeks and months.

That being said, there is some concern about this amendment. While sixty-five countries have ratified another one-hundred and thirty-two have not. Adding more worry about the amendment is that the United States and China fall into the listing of countries that have not ratified the amendment. I cannot imagine the overall effectiveness of a treaty like this if you do not have China and the US on your side. I do not know enough about the Chinese side of things, so in this article I’ll stick with the United States.

Since Trump took office there has not been a clear message on what will be done with the Kigali Amendment. In order for it to be ratified in America it has to go through The Senate, but in order for it to get to The Senate  President Trump, or The Executive Branch, has to provide the amendment to The Senate. So far, over the past two years the Trump Administration has sat on the amendment and done nothing with it. There were a few times where it looked like progress would be made. An employee of the Trump Administration would say something positive about Kigali but then a few weeks later they would backpedal and we would be back at square one. I had predicted that by 2019 hit we would see nothing different from them either. There isn’t a flat-out refusal. The amendment is just in purgatory here in America and I predict it will stay that way.

If the pressure increases on the Trump Administration to adopt this amendment (Say if China ratifies the amendment before we do) then I can very well see Trump nixing the whole thing. That just seems to be his modus operandi. If you push too hard then he’ll go the other way. I think for now it is best for everyone to stay quiet and let the pressure build naturally. If there is too much pressure or if it seems genuine then we may get the exact opposite reaction that we are hoping for. I know it sounds a little far fetched but I believe that is how it is with this current administration.

The Good News

It’s not all bad news around here folks. No, there is a shining light when it comes to phasing down HFC refrigerants across the United States. Around the same time that the Trump Administration announced that they were pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord a group of Governors from various states formed an alliance. This alliance, known as the Climate Alliance, aimed at upholding the goals laid out in the now defunct Paris Climate Accord. Along with these goals they have also targeted similar climate and environmental changes and regulations.

Some of these specific targets have been HFC refrigerants. In fact, last year California passed a bill that closely imitated the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20. This EPA rule was meant to be the first step in phasing down HFC refrigerants across the country. While the EPA’s rule was overturned by a Federal Court it is still being used as a template for various states such as California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Washington State.

In fact the first part of California’s new law known as ‘The Cooling Act,’ went into effect January 1st, 2019. This first step is targeting supermarket systems, condensing units, and self-contained units. The rule states that R-404A, R-507A, and other high Global Warming Potential refrigerants would no longer be acceptable in new machines. Along with the stick there is also a carrot that gives incentives for those businesses that adopt lower GWP systems earlier then the required deadline.

Conclusion

I mentioned this above in the previous section but I just do not see the Trump Administration pushing this amendment to The Senate for ratification. It goes against everything else that the Administration has done. In fact, we are all waiting patiently on new HFC rules to be released from the Environmental Protection Agency. Some of these ‘new’ rules could end up rescinding HFC rules that were put in place during the Obama Administration. If these are rescinded then we could see recycled refrigerant being used in different machines, HFC leak repairs plummet, and unregulated HFC purchasing. (End users could purchase HFC refrigerants without licensing.)

The Kigali Amendment may be seen as a disappointment for those of us in the United States but we have hope with the Climate Alliance. While only a few states have come out with a HFC phase down plan it is just a matter of time before more states come forward. In fact, the newly elected governors of Michigan and Wisconsin have already signaled that they would be joining the alliance. We may end up with a piecemeal of states that phase down HFCs but if enough states jump on board then manufacturers will be forced to use lower GWP alternative refrigerants.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Owner

Price Alert

The New Year has only just begun and already we are seeing refrigerant price changes coming to the market. Earlier today one of my contacts within the refrigerant industry reached out to me to share price increases that are coming down the pipeline. While so far these changes are from one or two manufacturers, I have seen from experience that other manufacturers typically follow suit. These price increases or decreases have reasoning behind them such as raw materials costing more, a shortage on materials or refrigerant, unexpected increased demand, logistics/freight issues, or a whole host of other possible issues. The point though is that if one manufacturer is experiencing a price increase then the others will usually be close behind them.

Now when I do articles like these that go into upcoming pricing changes I make sure to leave things anonymous to not only the source of the information but also to the company that has announced the pricing increases. It is not my place to share and publish internal company documents. By doing it this way I can protect myself and my business as well as still provide you, the reader, the much needed information on upcoming price changes.

The Changes

Ok folks, without further ado let’s dive in and take a look at the changes that were announced. Yesterday, a mailer was sent out by a leading refrigerant manufacturer. This mailer stated that as of next week, January 8th, prices would be going up six percent on HFC and HCFC refrigerants. The increase targets all of the most commonly used refrigerants today including R-22, R-134a, R-410A, R-404A, R-507A, R-407A, and R-407C.

While six percent doesn’t sound like a lot it really depends on the refrigerant that you are looking at. R-134a right now is trending between eighty to ninety dollars for a thirty pound cylinder. Six percent of that would be around five dollars more a cylinder. Not too much of an increase. However, if we take that same logic and look at R-22’s price which is hovering around four-hundred to four-hundred and fifty a thirty pound cylinder we can begin to see a larger impact. Lets take the four-hundred dollar price as an example. With that base price we’re looking at around twenty-four dollars more per thirty pound cylinder. Now we can begin to see a slight impact.

One more thing folks on these increases. The announced price increase on HFCs have only been from one manufacturer. The R-22 price increase though has now come from two different and distinct refrigerant manufacturers. Just like I stated above, most manufacturers are in tandem with each other and have their ears to the ground watching the trends. The chances are R-22 is going to go up around six percent across all manufacturers.

2019 is a big year for R-22 as this is the LAST year that any quantity can be physically produced or imported into the United States. When January 1st, 2020 hits that’s the end. Fin. No more. The only way to acquire R-22 then is either purchasing from distributors who have stockpiles on hand or purchasing form a certified refrigerant reclaimer.

Because of this upcoming rule change on R-22 the market in 2019 is unpredictable. No one knows for sure what’s going to happen. Could this six percent increase be the start of a snowball effect? Will the price keep going up and up this year as more and more people buy up everything they can? There was a time in 2017 where R-22 cylinders hit seven-hundred dollars a cylinder. Will we repeat this year? Or, is this six percent increase an anomaly or correction and the price will stabilize for the upcoming spring season?

Conclusion

Refrigerant pricing is unpredictable. Sure, I have written many articles trying to predict what will happen in the next year… and sometimes I’m right and other times I am way off. One thing I am certain of though is that these winter months are the absolute best time to buy. Prices are deflated and the demand is quite low. As spring edges closer the prices will begin to rise.

I remember back in the day when I was in charge of purchasing R-134a by the trailerload. We would always wait until the first week of February to place our orders. We’d do our negotiations in the middle/end of January and then send our purchase orders over that first week in February. Most of the time this ensured that we had a competitive price throughout the entire season and we didn’t have to scramble in the hot months to try and find a source of R-134a.

If you are interested in purchasing refrigerant please don’t hesitate to reach out to me by filling out the contact information below or by visiting our bulk refrigerants page. Please remember that we only sell in pallet and trailerload quantities. A pallet typically contains around forty cylinders.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

There is no better indicator or barometer within the industry then the Carrier Corporation. After all, they are one of the biggest and most stable air conditioning manufacturers out there. They are one the ‘trend setters’ within the industry. When a business decision is made everyone watches, observes, and they may even imitate. The same can be said when they choose a new refrigerant.

That is exactly what happened. The Carrier Corporation along with Chemours announced today that Carrier would be transitioning their ducted residential and commercial air conditioning products away from R-410A and over to R-454B. This new refrigerant R-454B, also known as XL41, is an HFO refrigerant from Chemours under their Opteon brand name. The transition for Carrier is scheduled to begin by the year 2023. This is a big deal folks. This could very well be the beginning of the end for R-410A. Especially if other companies began to follow suit.

As most of you know there has been a battle going on for the past few years as to what refrigerant will be the golden choice to replace R-410A. It seems like Puron has only been around for a few years but now there are already companies and countries pushing it out and wanting a better more climate friendly alternative. As I write this article today there is still not one clear and defined winner. None of this isn’t for lack of trying though. There are all sorts of 410A alternatives out there, the problem is none of them were gaining significant traction. This news from the Carrier corporation adds fuel to the fire for R-454B. Along with Carrier some other prominent companies have announced their support for XL41 including Johnson Controls and York. With Carrier coming on board I wouldn’t be surprised if we begin to see more companies announce their support in the not too distant future.

The big distinction here and the reason companies are switching to XL41 is that it has a significantly lessened Global Warming Potential then the other alternatives out there. R-454B has a GWP of only four-hundred and sixty-seven. That is nearly eighty percent less GWP then R-410A and even thirty percent less then the proposed R-32 alternative. This very low GWP gives companies and manufacturers peace of mind knowing that they will meet future climate targets today if they make the switch. I would be apt to purchase one of these machines if I knew it was going to stand the test of time and not have to go through a phase down/phase out period.

The downside though with this newer HFO refrigerant is that ASHRAE has it rated as an A2L. The 2L is what may worry some of you, as that means that the refrigerant has lower flammability rating and a lower burning velocity. While some of you may already have experience working with lower or even mildly flammable refrigerants others may not. In reality though folks, flammable refrigerants are perfectly safe as long as you follow all of the proper precautions and safety procedures.

Conclusion

For more information on R-454B please click this link to be taken to our official fact and information sheet on the refrigerant. This sheet attempts to provide any and all information you would ever need on 454B. Rather it’s the GWP, the chemistry, what’s in the blend, the temperature glide, or anything else we aim to have it in our fact sheet. If while reading you find something that isn’t accurate or if you found that we missed something please do not hesitate to reach out to me and let me know. I want RefrigerantHQ to be a great resource for those of us in the industry and I can’t do that if I have mistakes up!

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

It was announced last week that the State of Washington would be joining four other states in having their own HFC phase down plan. The announcement came from the desk of Governor Jay Inslee. While it is still preliminary and needs to be approved by the State Congress the hopes are high that this will be the first step in reducing HFCs across the state. The proposed plan outlines over two-hundred and seventy million dollars aimed at reducing Climate Change across Washington. Out of this allotment the HFC phase down will receive just under one million dollars. The end goal here is having HFC usage across the state down to twenty-five percent below 1990 levels by the year 2035.

As I said above, Washington will now make the fifth state with a targeted HFC phase down plan. California, like in many cases, was the first state to introduce their HFC plan and then not too much after New York announced a similar plan. The very next week after New York announced Maryland and Connecticut announced their plans. (I wrote a story about this that can be found by clicking here).

As you can see, this is the beginning of a domino effect. With each state that moves forward with an HFC phase down plan there is more and more pressure applied to manufacturers and distributors throughout the country. It doesn’t matter if you are a car manufacturer based out of Louisiana. If you’re making cars you want those cars to be able to be sold throughout all fifty states. It wouldn’t make much sense to have cars specifically targeted to one set of states and then a different car targeted to another. It’s not good business sense. Manufacturers want uniformity.

This line of thinking by manufacturers is what will allow the United States to push forward with HFC phase downs even without the Kigali Amendment ratified or the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20 in place. While we have seen quite a bit of turmoil at the Federal level we are still able to see results due to individual states pushing forward. In the case of this latest article on Washington we should also note that Washington was a founding member of what’s known as the ‘Climate Alliance.’ The Climate Alliance is a collection of sixteen states that have all agreed to work towards reducing their carbon footprint and to fighting Climate Change/Global Warming. This alliance is set to grown next year when newly elected Democratic governors from Michigan, Wisconsin, and Illinois come to office.

This alliance is the first step in phasing down HFC’s across the country. It seems to be the only feasible strategy at this point. Everything else has failed and even if we only get twenty states on board, that should be enough. All we need is enough population and buying power on board with phasing down HFCs. The moment that happens is the moment we will begin to see manufacturers switching over to alternative refrigerants. The ones that do not make the switch will see their sales and margins drop. They may have to be dragged along kicking and screaming, but in the end we all know that money talks. If you can’t sell a R-404A system to your customer in California then you’re going to look for an alternative. It’s that simple.

The only downside here I can see by having states do this on their own is that the timeline will most likely be extended. As an example, let’s look at R-134a. In the case of 134a the EPA’s targeted phase down on new vehicles was set for 2020. (2021 model years.) That regulation date has since been removed due to court rulings.

The question now though is how close will we come to EPA’s original date? Will we be a few years past, or will it take a decade for enough states to get on board? Time will tell, but if the past few months have been any indicator then I would say we can expect many more states announcing their plans to phase down HFC refrigerants.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Question

A few years back there was a lot of debate between varying refrigerant manufacturers and distributors on rather there should be tariffs installed on Chinese imported refrigerant. The argument was that China was dumping very low priced, often government subsidized, HFC refrigerants into the United States. The constant supply of imports caused the prices to shrink and shrink. This price depression ended up hurting American companies.

I remember a specific instance about eight years ago where I was working on a trailer load purchase of R-134a. (Forty cylinders to a pallet and twenty pallets on a trailer.) I called around to all of the usual players looking to get the absolute best price. Often times I would leverage one distributor against the other trying to get them as low as I could. Well during this time I was receiving quotes around the sixty dollar range. Some were high sixties, some middle, and others towards the lower end. If I was lucky I could find a distributor selling at a fifty-nine or fifty-eight dollars a cylinder.

During this same time the company I worked for was experimenting with importing their own product. We hadn’t officially done any imports, but we were testing the waters. In the case of this trailer load purchase of R-134a we went ahead and requested quotes from China. The quotes I received back were astonishing. I had three to four quotes and each and everyone was hovering around forty to forty-five dollars a cylinder. Yes, we had to pay freight to get the product over the ocean… but it was negligible when looking at that forty dollar price range. In the end we ended up going with an American distributor and paid the higher price. The import process wasn’t worth the headache to us, but to many others it was.

These drastic price differences between US and China refrigerants caused the overall price to drop and drop. This dropping price began to eat into the pockets of local distributors and manufacturers. As the years passed their margins shrunk and shrunk. If the price depression kept up then it wouldn’t make business sense to continue producing and selling domestic refrigerant. In order to correct this price depression suits were filed with the United States International Trade Commission. These suits requested an anti-dumping tariff on R-134a as well as other common HFC refrigerants. The aim was to install tariffs on Chinese imported refrigerant that would inflate the cost of these refrigerants so that they would be more in line with the American market price point. In essence, it would level the playing field and put China product on equal footing with American.

There was quite a bit of debate on these suits and they took quite a while to come to fruition. I remember watching the headlines and the moment any potential ruling would come out the price on refrigerants would jump up or down overnight. Eventually, a decision was made by the Trade Commission. In the summer of 2016 the Commission agreed to install anti-dumping tariffs on HFC refrigerant blends. The big ones here are R-410A and R-404A. While having the tariff approved was great news… there was a small problem. The tariff was ONLY on the specific blended refrigerants, so only on R-410A and R-404A. (Other blends as well.) The tariff was NOT on the components of those refrigerants. In other words, if I imported Chinese R-410A refrigerant today I would pay the tariff. However, if I import Chinese R-125 and R-32 into the US then I face no tariffs. (R-125 and R-32 blended equals R-410A.) Begin to see the problem here?

Once this ruling was announced there was a change within the industry, but it was only slight. Now all of the Chinese importers moved from purchasing R-410A over to purchasing the component refrigerants and then blending the refrigerant in house. We are now back to square one due to a governmental oversight. The good news here is that R-134a is not a blend and an anti-dumping tariff was levied against it in spring of 2017.

The Future

In an effort to change the ruling from 2016 an additional suit has been filed with the International Trade Commission. This additional suit has requested tariffs be placed on imported refrigerant blend components as well. This would include your R-125, R-32, and other similar refrigerants. What’s unique about this is that manufacturers that are usually at odds with each other are working together to stop the flow of Chinese refrigerants. Arkema, Chemours, and Honeywell have all joined and pushed this suit forward to the Trade Commission.

At this point in time we are all still waiting on a ruling from the Trade Commission. It was announced last week that the Commission needs an additional two months before a decision can be made. (Link) They gave themselves the deadline of March 11th. We’ll see if that comes to fruition or not.

While we all sit patiently and wait to see what happens here I can only imagine what will happen to the prices of these refrigerants if a tariff is installed. Yes, it may be for the good of American companies but are American consumers and contractors happily going to pay the increased price? Will the price points with tariffs be perfectly in line with what the American market is? Or, will we price the Chinese product so far out of market that we consumers will buy American be default?

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources