HFCs

On October 24th the state of California will hold a public workshop to discuss a proposal for reducing and ultimately phasing out HFC refrigerants from the state. The official document can be found by clicking here. The forum will be held from ten in the morning to two in the afternoon in Sacramento, CA. It can also be followed online through a live webcast that can be found by clicking here.

This public forum is a direct reaction to a federal court’s August ruling that overturned the Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20 to phase out HFC refrigerants across stationary and automotive applications.

The SNAP Rule 20, which was introduced in 2015, was the EPA’s attempt to phase out HFC refrigerants over the next ten to fifteen years. The problem here was that the EPA used the same authority that they used to phase out CFC and HCFC refrigerants. The basis of these previous phase outs were to stop the leaking and venting of Chlorine into the atmosphere. The Chlorine that these refrigerants contained actively damaged the Ozone layer. However, HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-410A, and R-404A do not contain Chlorine. Instead, these refrigerants are a very potent Greenhouse Gas that contribute to Global Warming when vented or leaked. So, while they do harm the environment they do it in a completely different way then the Chlorine did to the Ozone.

In August the federal court overturned the EPA’s phase out and then in September Honeywell and Chemours filed an appeal to the federal court’s ruling in hopes that the phase out will be put back in place. There is no timeline for when a decision on the appeal will be reached and so as I write this today the industry is in kind of a limbo not knowing exactly what is going to happen. Will the court rule in favor of Honeywell/Chemours and put the phase out back in place or will they rule against it and force the United States goverment to go through Congress for a HFC phase out?

California

Regardless of what comes out of the courts one thing is for certain. California isn’t waiting around to find out. As I said above on October 24th the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, will be hosting their own public forum on HFC phase outs and how the state will deal with Short Lived Climate Pollutants. (SLCPs.) HFCs are seen as SLCPs due to their short life but damaging Global Warming Potential when compared to Carbon Dioxide.

This hearing will only focus on stationary refrigeration and air conditioning but additional sectors such as refrigerators, freezers, and even automotive could be addressed further down the road.

There are two main goals of the meeting.

  1. The first is to begin a rule making process to adopt regulations that will prohibit use of certain HFC refrigerants.
  2. The second is to further evaluate potential future rulemakings in regards to HFC refrigerants and their other applications.

CARB is mandated by California law SB 1383 to reduce HFC refrigerants by forty percent below the 2013 baseline levels by the year 2030. Originally though, in March of 2017 CARB adopted it’s SLCP strategy for reducing emissions across the state. The strategy was heavily reliant on the EPA and Federal Government’s rules. When the courts overturned the EPA’s rules it threw everything out of whack for CARB’s planned HFC reduction and that is how we have arrived to today’s announced meeting.

Conclusion

While I do not see to big of a change to the average consumer if California begins phasing out stationary refrigerant applications what worries me most is the potential for an automotive HFC phase out in just one state across the country. I can’t even begin to imagine the logistics in that and how it would work. I know when I worked for my previous company we had to be careful not to ship certain types of brake cleaner to California due to the volatile organic compounds that it contained. If we made a mistake and shipped the wrong product we could face heavy fines. Can you imagine how it would work if only new cars with 1234yf or CO2 refrigerant systems could be sold in California?

I’ve always seen California as the ‘red headed stepchild’ of the United States. They are always doing things a little differently and always creating their own, sometimes controversial, laws. Sometimes these laws get carried over to the rest of the states and sometimes not so much. We could very seriously end up in a situation where HFCs are allowed across the country except in California. Very strange times indeed.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

 

 

Sources

 

R-410A, also known as Puron, is arguably becoming one of the most popular refrigerants in the world. It rose to prominence here in the United States in the year 2010 when it’s predecessor, the HCFC R-22, was banned due to the Chlorine that it contained.

Ever since then R-410A has primarily been used on all new residential and commercial air-conditioning applications. Along with residential use it can also be used in industrial refrigeration, chillers, and on centrifugal compressors. Chances are if you have a unit from 2010 or greater it’s using R-410A. But, what exactly is 410A? What goes into it? What are it’s properties? History? Well today folks we are going to dive in and attempt to learn every single thing we would ever want when it comes to R-410A. Please join me, but be prepared for a long read.

The Facts

Name:R-410A
Name - Scientific:Blend of Difluromethane & Pentafluroethane
Name (2):Suva 410A
Name (3):Forane 410A
Name (4):EcoFluor R410
Name (5):Genetron R410A
Name (6):AZ-20
Name (7)HFC-410A
Classification:HFC Refrigerant - Blend
Chemistry:Zeotropic, but near Azeotropic blend.
Chemistry (2):R-32 (Difluromethane) blend of 50+.5,–1.5%
Chemistry (3):R-125 (Pentafluroethane) blend of 50+1.5,–.5%
R-32 Chemistry:
R-125 Chemistry:
Status:Active & Growing Market.
Future:May be Phased Out in Next Ten Years.
Application:Residential & Commercial Air-Conditioning.
Application (2):Industrial Refrigeration, Chillers, and Centrifugal Compressors
Replacement For:HCFC R-22 Freon
Ozone Depletion Potential:0
Global Warming Potential:2,088
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° Celsius or -55.3° Fahrenheit.
Critical Temperature:72.8° Celsius or 163.04° Farenheit
Critical Pressure:4.86 MPA or 704.88 pound-force per square inch.
Auto ignition Temperature:750° Celsius or 1,382° Farenheit
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:Pink
Cylinder Design:r-404a 25 pound cylinder
Cylinder Design (2):Twenty-Five Pound Tank
Price Point:Medium - $90-$160 a cylinder.
Where to Buy Can or Cylinder?Amazon.com
Bulk Purchasing:CLICK FOR A QUOTE!

Points of Note

Ok, so we’ve got the basic facts out of the way on this refrigerant. Now let’s take a look at some of the more interesting points about Puron refrigerant.

  • I’m a little behind the times here as R-410A has been in widespread use for almost ten years now but I figured I would mention this anyways. 410A’s purpose was to come up with a viable alternative to the HCFC R-22 Freon that was found and still is found in residential and commercial air-conditioning applications. While R-22 contained Chlorine the HFC 410A does not so there is no harm that can be done to the Ozone layer.
  • There are quite a bit of differences between an R-22 air-conditioner and a R-410A air-conditioner. I won’t cover every single detail here but you can begin to see a picture of what the differences are:
    • Unlike R-22 the new R-410A is a blended refrigerant mixed up of R-32 and R-125. In some instances blended refrigerants act differently then single refrigerants. We will get into that further on down this list.
    • R-410A is actually more efficient at absorbing heat then R-22. What that means is that your air conditioner won’t work as hard and your home will stay cooler all the while saving on your power bills.
    • 410A operates at a much higher pressure than R-22, between fifty to sixty percent higher. To accommodate this increased pressure the compressors and other components are built to withstand the greater stress. Some people describe these components as having a ‘thicker wall.’ If you were to use an R-22 compressor on a 410A application your compressor would blow it’s head! The extra toughness of these components come with the extra bonus of ensuring a longer life of your air conditioner.
    • Because of the higher pressure of Puron you will need to have special tools in order to service the unit. I will go into this further in the tools section but I wanted to point it out now. R-22 tools will NOT work on 410A!
    • Instead of the mineral oil lubricant you would use for R-22 you will be using a synthetic oil called Polyol Ester Oil, or POE. This oil is actually more soluble with R-410A which causes your compressor and your system to operate more efficiently. R-22 oil will not flow through a 410A system and will most likely end up accumulating in your evaporator.
    • The new synthetic oil, POE, mentioned above absorbs moisture at a much faster rate than mineral oil. Because of this the time allowed for the compressor to be exposed to the atmosphere is much much shorter than what you may be used to for R-22. Best practice is to ensure everything is set and ready before pulling the plugs on the compressor.
    • Because R-22 is a single refrigerant and not a blend there was never any risk of a temperature glide. But, with R-410a since it is a blended refrigerant of R-32 and R-125 there will be a glide during refrigerant state changes. This is because the two refrigerants have different state change points. While I say this, the actual glide temperature difference for 410A is rather minimal at <0.5° Fahrenheit.  For more information on glide temp differences please click here to read an instructional document from Chemours.
    • Also, Since R-410A is a blended refrigerant it is best to evacuate the refrigerant as a liquid.  This ensures optimum and consistent performance. This is recommended by Chemours and other leading manufacturers.
    • Lastly, it is VERY important that when replacing components on an R-410A unit rather they be reversing valves, expansion valves, driers, compressors, or whatever you have to make sure that the replacement you are installing is rated for R-410A usage. If they are not and they are exposed to the high pressure of R-410A you will have a failure, perhaps even a catastrophic failure.
  • Storage requirements for R-410A are the same as other refrigerants. Cylinders should be stored in a clean, dry area, and out of direct sunlight. If you have cylinders in the back of your work van ensure that the temperature does not rise above one-hundred and twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit. Keep valves tightly closed and caps in place when cylinders are not in use. This will prevent any damage to your product, to your facility, or to your vehicle.
  • The last point that I’ll mention on R-410A before moving onto the next section is the possibility of it being phased out. Yes, you heard right. We’ve only been at it for about ten years and there is already talk of a phase out by various governments across the world. In fact just last year, there was an amendment signed to the Montreal Protocol to phase out HFCs across the globe. This amendment was known as the Kigali Amendment. While there has not been a specific alternative refrigerant decided yet it is only a matter of time before a refrigerant is chosen and the phase out will begin. I went into this deeper in another article that can be found by clicking here.

Servicing R-410A

Now I am not going to get into all of the specific details on how to service a R-410A unit but instead give you an overview of what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, and what the best practices are for servicing an R-410A machine.

First and foremost I’d like to tell you what’s stayed the same. You will still need to be certified with the Environmental Protection Agency in order to service or even to purchase R-410A cylinders. You will either need Section 608 II or a Universal 608 certificate. This is the same as it was for R-22, not much difference here.

Also, just like before it is illegal to vent or knowingly release R-410A into the atmosphere. If you need to evacuate the charge then you will need a recovery machine along with a recovery cylinder that are both rated to handle the pressures of R-410A.

On to what’s changed. Ok, so obviously the refrigerant has changed but the big and noticeable difference here is the pressure change. 410A is anywhere from fifty to sixty percent higher pressure than R-22. So, while the basic design and operating procedures of 410A remain the same as R-22 extra caution should be paid to the pressure of 410A.

With this extra pressure comes the need of new tools. Your standard gauges, hoses, cylinders, and everything else will not work with 410A. The increased pressure is too much and will cause your tools to break in the best case scenario and the worst case scenario could cause permanent damage to the unit itself. In the next section I will go over the requirements for 410A tools and what we recommend here at RefrigerantHQ.

The last thing that I’ll mention on 410A is that due to the increased pressure all of the components in your standard AC system have been ‘thickened.’ These parts have an extra thick wall that allows them to absorb the extra pressure as 410A passes through them. I mention this because if you are having to replace one of these parts you absolutely HAVE to make sure that the new part that you will be installing is rated to handle 410A. Again, if you neglect this fact you run the risk of destroying the new part and also destroying the entire unit.

R-410A Necessary Tools

We have gone over the requirements to service 410A but now we need to cover what kind of tools that you will need. With this higher pressure from 410A comes a need for new tools. Let’s take a look:

  • Manifold Gauge Set – The high pressures encountered when working R-410A requires a manifold gauge set that has a low-side gauge that can read up to 500 PSIG and a high side gauge that can read up to 800 PSIG. This is significantly higher than a standard manifold set. There are many versions of gauges out there and by now I will imagine most of them meet 410A requirements. Here at RefrigerantHQ we recommend Yellow Jacket’s 49967 Manifold Gauge set. This is set is rated for both R-22 and R-410A along with a host of other refrigerants. Yellow Jacket’s official product flyer can be found by clicking here.
  • Hoses – Hoses used on 410A applications should be UL recognized and have a minimum of 800 PSI working pressure and a 4,000 PSI burst. This covers you by providing a five to one safety factor. I will refer to the recommended gauge set above as it comes with a set of four hoses as well. If you need to purchase additional hoses then again I would suggest the Yellow Jacket hose which can be bought on Amazon by clicking here.
  • Flaring Tools – Depending on the unit you are working on you may find that you need to flare some of the tubes in order to get everything to fit correctly. While your existing flaring tool may work there is a chance of leaks when working with R-410A due to the pressure. There are flaring tools specifically designed for R-410A that will allow for ease of use and minimize chance of leaks. Our pick at RefrigerantHQ is Yellow Jacket’s 60278 410A Flaring Tool. You can purchase one on Amazon.com and you can also find an instructional video by clicking here.
  • Refrigerant Leak detector – There are so many leak detectors out there on the market today it can be a little confusing. Most of them by now can detect R-410A along with other HFC refrigerants. To make things a little bit easier I put together a price point comparison table that can be found by clicking here. This will give you the option to pick a detector that will work for you as well as stay in your budget.
  • Recovery Cylinders – Recovery cylinders need to be rated to at least 400 DOT. A standard DOT 350 cylinder will not be able to safely handle the pressures of R-410A. Here at RefrigerantHQ we recommend that you purchase the Mastercool 62010 thirty pound recovery cylinder. This is a highly rated tank that can handle the high pressures of 410A refrigerant.
  • Recovery Machine – A recovery machine for 410A must be approved for Class V refrigerants including R-407C, R-404A, R-507, and R-410A per AHRI 740-98. The recovery machine should have the following features: over sized condenser, over sized fan, crankcase pressure regulator valve, and a high pressure cutout switch rated for at least 510 PSI. (Source from Yellowacket.com) Here at RefrigerantHQ we recommend that you purchase the Robinair RG3 Portable Recovery Machine. This is an overall great unit with tons of positive reviews and it can handle the pressures of 410A without a problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What happened to R-22?
    • So some of you may be asking why we decided to switch over from R-22 over to R-410A. Well folks it boils down to one thing and one thing only. Chlorine. Yes, that’s right. R-22 contained Chlorine and each and every time R-22 was leaked or vented that Chlorine drifted up and into the atmosphere. Overtime the extended amount and exposure of Chlorine caused a hole, or thinning, of the Ozone layer over the Arctic. Once scientists realized what was going on they alerted the World’s Governments and they took action by creating the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol organised the phase out of CFC and HCFC refrigerants, like R-22, across the globe. R-22’s phase out began in 2010 and in it’s place came R-410A. 410A does not contain any Chlorine and will not be harming the Ozone layer.
  • What is R-410A?
    • R-410A is an HFC refrigerant that is a blend of the HFC R-32 and the HFC R-125. This refrigerant was designed to be a safe, non-toxic, non-flammable, and reliable alternative to the HCFC R-22. It was invented in 1991 but did not begin to see real popularity until the 2000’s.
  • What is Puron?
    • Puron is the exact same thing as R-410A. The different name comes from the year 1996 when the Carrier Corporation was the first company to introduce R-410A into the residential air conditioning market. The name Puron is trademarked by the Carrier Corporation. The easiest way to think of it is like Freon. Freon is R-12 but Freon is DuPont’s brand name.
  • Can I mix R-22 and R-410A Refrigerants?
    • No! No, you cannot do this. They are two very different refrigerants and mixing them together will cause permanent damage to your air conditioning unit.
  • Can I retrofit an R-22 Unit Over to R-410A?
    • Yes, and no. It can be done but it is not cost effective or recommended. Instead Chemours has provided an alternative drop-in replacement to be used as a substitute to R-22. This refrigerant is known as MO99. Chemours has provided an instructional video on how to retrofit your existing unit to take MO99. If you are interested in purchasing MO99 please click here to be taken to Amazon.com.
  • Do I Need Different Tools to Service 410A Units?
    • Yes! Due to the much higher pressure of 410A you could risk damaging or even breaking your existing tools. You should use gauge sets, recovery machines, and tanks that are specifically designed to handle R-410A. We made our recommended tool listing in the tool section above.
  • What Type of Lubricant Should I Use With 410A?
    • Instead of the mineral oil that you used to for R-22 you will instead be using a high quality Polyol Ester Oil, or POE. Always double check the specific oil that your compressor’s manufacturer recommends before using.
  • Can I Purchase R-410A Without A License?
    • No. In order to purchase you need to be certified with the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency under Section 608 Type II or a Universal Certification 608 License.
  • What Kind of Certification Do I Need to Work With R-410A?
    • In order to work on 410A units you need to be certified with the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency under Section 608 Type II or a Universal Certification 608 License.
  • Can 410A Systems Be Topped Off?
    • While 410A is a blended refrigerant it acts very much like a single component refrigerant. Because of this any change in composition due to a leak is minimal. The system can be topped off without having to evacuate the entire charge.
  • Is R-410A Toxic or Flammable?
    • No. Just like R-22 the new R-410A is rated as an A1 classification by ASHRAE. A means non-toxic and 1 means non-flammable. For more information on toxicity and flammability ratings of refrigerants click here for an article I wrote the other day.
  • Who Manufactures R-410A?
    • There are a lot of manufacturers for R-410A. Some of the most popular names are Honeywell, Chemours/DuPont, Mexichem, and Arkema. There are numerous other companies out there as well including a whole host of imported Chinese product that may not be the highest quality.
  • What Countries Are Using R-410A?
    • The United States, The European Union, Japan, and many others. It is a very widespread and popular refrigerant nowadays.
  • Is R-410A Being Phased Out As Well?
    • This one is hard to say. In the year 2015 the United States’ EPA announced a new rule to their SNAP program. This rule was called RULE 20. A fact sheet on this rule can be found by clicking here. Basically, this rule announced the planned phase out of HFC refrigerants across the United States. The initial target was R-404A and then R-134a. While R-410A was only mentioned against vending machines and other non-residential applications I feel that it is only a matter of time before 410A is on the chopping block to be phased out. I believe the only thing holding us back right now is finding a viable alternative to 410A either through HFOs or Hydrocarbons.

 

History of R-410A

So, when did all of this start? Well, to understand the history of 410A and the other refrigerants we first have to go back in time to the 1980’s. Back then all automotive applications were using the CFC R-12 refrigerant for their air conditioning and all residential air-conditoner units were using R-22. These two refrigerants, R-12 and R-22, were the original mainstream refrigerants that came from the 1930’s. Ever since then they had gained and gained in popularity until they were practically found everywhere across the country and the world.

It was in the 1980’s that a team of scientists out of California realized that all of the Chlorine that was in CFC and HCFC refrigerants were causing damage to the Ozone layer. When vented or leaked the refrigerant would drift up and into the atmosphere. It is there where the Chlorine would do it’s damage. Eventually it got so bad that a thinning of the Ozone layer began to form over the Arctic. The scientists noticing this sounded the alarm and the world’s governments took action by creating the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol is a treaty that was signed in the late 1980’s by more then one-hundred countries. It’s goal was to rid the world of using Ozone depleting substances like CFC and HCFC refrigerants. This treaty was enacted in countries all over the world. The first target was CFC refrigerants such as R-12. In 1992 R-12 was phased out of the automotive market in the United States and was replaced with the newer HFC refrigerant known as R-134a. R-134a had the benefit of not containing Chlorine so with its usage there would be no danger to the Ozone layer. The next refrigerant to go was the CFC refrigerant known as R-502 in the mid 1990’s. As time went by there were other CFC and HCFC refrigerants phased out but the big change didn’t happen until 2010.

In 2010 is when the phase out of the ever popular HCFC R-22 refrigerant was to begin. At that date no new machines could be manufactured that took R-22 as a refrigerant. This was the line in the sand saying that there would be no more Chlorine containing refrigerants used. While 2010 was the beginning there was a schedule of set dates every five years that would slowly phase out R-22 entirely from the United States. A picture of this phase out schedule can be found below.

R-22 Phase Out Schedule - Courtney of EPA.gov
R-22 Phase Out Schedule – Courtney of EPA.gov

Enter R-410A

In 1991 the new HFC refrigerant R-410A was invented by the Honeywell Corporation. (Back then they were known by Allied Signal.) After invention Honeywell licensed production and manufacturing rights of 410A to other companies but even today Honeywell still continues to lead production and sales of 410A.

410A saw it’s first use in a residential air conditioning system all the way back in the year 1996. (Hard to believe that was over twenty years ago!)  The Carrier Corporation was the first company to introduce 410A into the residential marketplace and during that time they trademarked 410A as their brand name known as Puron.

While 410A could be found at homes in the early 2000’s it was sporadic. It wasn’t until we got closer and closer to the announced phase out date of R-22 that things began to pick up. Even though we were only a few years away from the phase out date there were still companies who had their heads buried in the sand and hadn’t bothered to train themselves or their technicians on the new technology. You can’t blame them really it’s human nature. The change was down the road and they would worry about it then.

In 2010 when the change did come into play and no new R-22 machines could be manufactured things began to get real for people. R-410A was the new refrigerant and it wasn’t going away, at least for a while. A lot of the old-timers out there got fed up with it all and decided to retire right around 2010. The younger guys or mid-career guys stuck around and got through the turbulent years. Today, in October of 2017, R-410A is one of the most widely used refrigerants in the world. It is used in the United States, the European Union, Japan, and many other countries. But what is it’s future? How long will it be around?

The Problem With HFCs

It was in the early 2000’s that a problem was discovered with HFC refrigerants. This problem wasn’t like the CFC or HCFC refrigerants that came before them. After all, there was no Chlorine involved so there was no thinning of the Ozone layer. No, this problem came from something called Global Warming Potential or GWP. GWP is a relative measure of how much heat a greenhouse gas can trap in the atmosphere. As a basis of measurement they set Carbon Dioxide as a one on the GWP scale.

Ok, so we have our baseline established now let’s compare the one GWP of Carbon Dioxide to an HFC refrigerant. One of the more popular HFC refrigerants known as R-404A has a GWP number of three-thousand nine-hundred and twenty-two. Yes, you heard me right. Three-thousand. That is a HUGE number and obviously a huge problem when looking at Global Warming.

Every time 404A was released, vented, or leaked into the atmosphere it would get trapped as a greenhouse gas and actively contribute to Global Warming. But it would do this and be thousands times stronger then Carbon Dioxide. This was obviously a big problem.

In 2015 the EPA announced RULE 20 of their SNAP program. This rule set the rules for phase outs of HFC refrigerants across the United States. It can be found by clicking here. Basically this rule introduced dates of when HFC refrigerants would be phased out. The first target was R-404A and the next was R-134a. The next year in 2016 an amendment to the Montreal Protocol was announced and signed. This amendment, known as the Kigali Amendment, scheduled the phase out of HFC refrigerants across the globe.

Now I am not sure how this will affect R-410A at this point in time. 410A has a GWP of two-thousand and eighty-eight. While this is a high number 410A was not mentioned in the new Rule from the EPA. (It was mentioned for vending machines but not for residential/commercial air conditioners.) I believe this was done because everyone had just switched over to 410A and wouldn’t make sense to transition so soon after to a new refrigerant. The other reason I believe 410A was left out was that there has yet to be a new alternative announced. Chemours and Honeywell are working on alternative as we speak but nothing is nailed down. I wrote an in-depth article on possible solutions for 410A alternatives that can be found by clicking here.

Regardless of what happens in the next few years I can assure you that R-410A’s time with us is limited. We have the EPA and the governments of the world all fighting against it due to it’s high Global Warming Potential. If I had to wager a guess I would say that by the year 2025 the phase out will begin and we will be looking at a newer HFO refrigerant that has not been invented yet. Time will tell though.

Thanks for reading and I hope that I was able to answer all of your questions and concerns.

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Last week I wrote an article going into how Honeywell and Chemours are filing an appeal to a federal court’s ruling that overturned the EPA’s phase out of HFC refrigerants. I explained how this was exactly what I thought would happen. These two behemoths aren’t going to sit back and watch their investments into HFO refrigerants go to waste. They are going to fight the ruling tooth and nail to ensure that HFCs are phased out and banned across the United States. It is in their best interest to do so.

Because of this appeal that was filed last week the actual ruling of the court is now suspended, or at least delayed until a decision is made. We are in a sort of limbo here in between phasing out HFCs or overturning the EPA’s phase out plan. At this point no one is for sure what will happen.

In One Corner

All of this started with two refrigerant manufacturers filing suit against the EPA’s proposed HFC phase out. These companies are Mexichem and Arkema. They had two main arguments for their suit: 1) The EPA was arbitrarily adding HFC refrigerants to the Clean Air Act phase out plan even though HFC refrigerants do not harm the Ozone layer. HFCs only contribute to Global Warming and they do not contain Chlorine. 2) Honeywell and Chemours are the only two major refrigerant companies in the world who have a new line of refrigerants ready to go once HFCs are phased out. By phasing out HFC refrigerants the United States government is causing major damage to Mexichem and Arkema’s business and giving millions of dollars of new business to Honeywell and Chemours. Doesn’t seem right.

Now these two companies who filed this suit aren’t small by any means. Mexichem brings in over five billion a year in revenue. Arkema, a French based company, brings in even more at seven and a half billion Euro. These numbers are nothing to sneeze at but it is all about comparison. If you look at who Mexichem and Arkema are fighting against you can really begin to see the contrast. There are only four really major refrigerant manufacturers that I know of: Honeywell, Chemours, Mexichem, and Arkema.

Honeywell’s revenue is near forty billion dollars. Chemours is just shy of six billion, but don’t let that number fool you. Chemours is a split off from the original DuPont company a few years back. DuPont’s revenue is just over twenty-five billion. If you combine the two companies (DuPont & Chemours) they are well over thirty billion dollars. These companies are huge and they are looking to stop the little guy, well at least as little as you can get when you bring in over a billion dollars a year.

Honeywell and Chemour’s also have two main points in their argument for appeal. 1) They argue that the SNAP Rule 20 (The rule the EPA used to phase out HFCs.) was well-founded and that the court’s ruling exceeded it’s own jurisdiction. 2) Their second argument is that between the two companies they have invested over a billion dollars to research, develop, and commercialize HFO refrigerants including building manufacturing facilities here in the United States. To back out now of the HFC refrigerant phase out could cause massive amounts of lost investment and opportunity.

So in one corner we have the two smaller refrigerant manufacturers Arkema and Mexichem pushing to keep HFCs around and then we have the two giants Honeywell and Chemours just waiting for the demand on their new HFO refrigerant line to explode.

Conclusion

What this boils down to folks is money and business. I’ve said it before but here I am saying it again. Honeywell and Chemours are the only players in town with a solid alternative to HFCs. Arkema and Mexichem need more time to develop their own alternatives. They want to extend the life of HFCs while Honeywell and Chemours want to stop HFCs as fast as they can. I feel that this court case was a stalling mechanism that Arkema and Mexichem had little hope of working, but when it actually did work everyone panicked for a moment. No one expected this ruling.

If you ask me for my opinion on the matter I’m hoping that the appeal loses and that HFCs get to stay around a bit longer. Yes, I know it’s bad for the environment but  I am looking at things as a business and competition side. I want HFCs around longer just so that more competition can arise from other avenues. I want Mexichem or Arkema or someone else to come up with viable alternatives out there as well. We need to see innovation! We need to see competition.

As it stands today no one knows who will win and how this ruling will affect the industry.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Well ladies and gentlemen I have to say that I saw this coming. The deadline to file an appeal on the Federal Court’s ruling against the EPA’s phaseout of HFC refrigerants was September 22nd, 2017. Lo and behold, at the last minute on the last day an appeal was filed by Honeywell and Chemours. This appeal brings up a whole other wave of uncertainty. How will the courts rule? What will happen if the ruling stands and the EPA cannot phase out HFC refrigerants without going through the Congress? If that happens the industry could be turned on it’s head. We all know that today’s Congress would never vote for such a thing. It seems like that people who want HFC’s phased out have this one last appeal card in their deck. If this fails who knows what they will try next.

For those of you not in the know, the EPA announced back in 2015 that they would be phasing out HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A through their SNAP, or Significant New Alternatives Policy. This new rule was called SNAP Rule 20. The country just accepted this mandate from the EPA and the industry moved on. Many companies began switching over to Hydrocarbons and others over to the new HFO refrigerant lines from Honeywell and Chemours.

In August of 2017 a Federal Court unexpectedly ruled against the EPA’s phase out of HFC refrigerants. This ruling threw everything into a tailspin and no one knew exactly what would happen next. For more information on this I wrote an article around the time it happened which can be found by clicking here.

Basically, the EPA tried to use section 612 of the Clean Air Act for their phase out. The problem here is though that this section of the Clean Air Act was designed specifically for CFC and HCFC refrigerants. It has nothing to do with HFC refrigerants. It’s design was to stop the damage to the Ozone layer by offering alternative refrigerants. Since HFC’s do not contain Chlorine and do not damage the Ozone they should not fall in the same category. This is how the court ruled. It seems like a very logical ruling, doesn’t?

Their Argument

The two companies who filed the appeal brought forth two arguments against the court’s ruling.

  1. First, they argue that the SNAP Rule 20 was well-founded and that the federal court’s ruling exceeded it’s jurisdiction as well as ignoring the original intent of the SNAP Program. (To replace Ozone depleting refrigerants with the safest alternatives.) This argument drives me crazy folks. They know they didn’t go through Congress and they know that they didn’t do it the right way. But none of that matters. No. Their intent was good. I guess as long as my intent is good I can do anything I want.
  2. The second argument and just as ludicrous in my book is that these two companies invested two much money to have this ruling being turned on it’s head. Chemours noted that they had invested more then one billion dollars to research, develop, and commercialize their new HFO refrigerants. All of this development was done under the guise of HFC refrigerants being phased out. What they don’t tell you here is that Chemours and Honeywell, have been investing money into HFOs long before the EPA made it’s decision to phase out HFC refrigerants in 2015. This argument seems like a moot point. In business their a thing called risk as all of you know.

Conclusion

It’s a toss up of what will happen here folks. In the original August ruling the Federal Court ruled two to one for overturning the EPA’s regulation. That is a narrow margin. Nobody had even seen this coming but now that there is a global spotlight on this ruling I can only guess that this appeal will be pushed through quickly.

What concerns me is the money behind this appeal. My fear is that with all of this money behind this that the appeal may not get a fair ruling and we may be back at where we started. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. I am not comfortable with two giant conglomerates like Honeywell and Chemours having all of the HFO manufacturing and production in their hands. Yes, other companies are free to develop their own alternatives but let’s be truthful here. These two companies have the power and they have the sway to convince other companies to make the switch to HFOs. It’s already happened in the automotive sector. Chances are if you look at a newer model vehicle it is taking HFO-1234YF. It’s only a matter of time before we see it start to take hold on Chillers and eventually commercial and residential air conditioning.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Let me preface this with France is a great country. I had never left the States before until a few months ago when I had a business trip in Belgium. We had an extra day so we took a train down to Lille and then another train down to Paris. I had a lot of fun, experienced two whole new countries, and drank a lot of beer. (The best part.) Also, the picture for this article is one I took when I was on top of The Pantheon in Paris. Lots of fun!

Alright, on to the article!

The Proposed Tax

In July of this year an HFC tax was announced by Nicolas Hulot, the French Environment Minister. The idea is for this new tax to be included in the French government’s 2018 budget. The tax would cover all areas of industry including industrial/commercial refrigeration, air conditioning, and refrigerated transport. There are no exemptions.

The exact amount on the tax has not been agreed to yet. A source from the French Refrigeration magazine said that the tax is likely to be around 30.5 Euros per tonne of CO2 equivalent. So, in other words the tax will be based off of Global Warming Potential number on each refrigerant. One estimate on R-404A points to an increase of one-hundred euros per kilogram of refrigerant. That works out to about one-hundred and nineteen dollar increase for every two pounds of refrigerant. Very very significant increase.

This kind of tax isn’t a new thing either. Other European countries have done this already, some for years. Some of these countries include Denmark, Poland, Spain, and Norway. An example of a refrigerant tax table from Norway can be seen below. Click on the picture to be taken to the official document.

Norway's HFC Refrigerant Tax Chart
Norway’s HFC Refrigerant Tax Chart

Now it’s not all bad news here folks. One point to note is that there will also be a tax credit offered that will reduce the cost of switching over to HFC free technology by up to twenty-five percent. (This is speculative so far, no numbers nailed down yet.) That number is a lot of savings especially to larger companies. This tax incentive opens the doors to either Natural Refrigerants/Hydrocarbons or to the new HFO refrigerant classes from HoneyWell and Chemours. No one knows for sure what will win but if I was to guess I would say we see a solid mix of HFOs and Hydrocarbons depending on the applications. Chillers may be all Hydrocarbons while automotive and home air conditioners may go the HFO route.

The Good Fight

Not everyone is on board with this proposed tax in France. As many of twenty groups of refrigerant manufacturers, contractors, and refrigerant associations have come forward in opposition to the tax proposal. For a complete listing of these companies and associations click here to be taken to CoolingPost.com’s article on it. These companies state that the tax is unnecessary and adds an extra burden to the industry. Here are a few of their reasons:

  1. There is already an existing law in the European Union called the ‘F-Gas Regulation,’ that plans to completely phase-out HFC refrigerants across the EU. Adding a tax on top of this is just greedy.
  2. In the F-Gas Regulation there are HFC quotas that restrict how much refrigerant can be imported and manufactured within the EU. These companies’ point is that if France doesn’t use up the quota then another country in the EU will. It’s a moot point. The environment will be affected the same rather or not if France uses up all of the HFC quotas.

Conclusion

The thing to point out here though folks is this part of the French budget is some of the tamest. This Climate Plan that they are pushing actually aims to end the sale of gasoline and diesel cars by the year 2040. On top of that they will stop using coal by the year 2022 for electricity among many other climate measures.

Europe is changing fast and it always seems that they are a few steps ahead of us on this type of thing. I remember about ten years ago when I was in the trucking industry. If my memory serves me right 2007 was the year that all diesel models in the United States were mandated to use a Diesel Particular Filter and along with the filter came Diesel Exhaust Fluid. Those of you who drive diesels know what I’m talking about. The reason I bring this is up is that the EU had been doing DPFs for years before it came over to the US.

The EU seems to be the testers and the forebearers of what is to come here in the states. So, don’t be surprised if we see a proposed HFC tax coming here over the next few years. I would be surprised to see the Trump Administration propose this but if not them then the next administration most definitely will. And hey, with our EPA they won’t even need to go through Congress. They’ll just use the Clean Air Act and deem it so.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Almost two months ago on August 8th, 2017 a federal court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ban and phase-out of HFC refrigerants. Originally, the EPA had planned phase out of HFC refrigerants to begin next year with R-404A and again in 2020/21 for R-134a.

I’ve written about this ruling before so I will only do a brief synopsis here on what this ruling is about. Most of you are familiar with the Montreal Protocol. This was the treaty that banned CFCs and HCFCs from the refrigerant world. They banned these refrigerants due to the Chlorine they contained. In 2015 the Obama administration tried to use this same treaty to ban HFC refrigerants. Only one problem though, HFC refrigerants do not contain any Chlorine. When the EPA announced their proposed phase-out of HFC refrigerants they referenced their authority from the Clean Air Act, section 612. Again, we run into the same problem here. This section was written in reference to Chlorine and the Ozone layer, not for HFC refrigerants. For more information on this click here to read my previous article.

Here is where the courts stepped in and ruled against the EPA’s phase-out of HFCs. The courts ruled that this phase-out was beyond the authority of the EPA. If a phase-out was to be made then it should go through congress. Which, is the right thing to do. This ruling upset a lot of the big boys in the industry such as Honeywell, Chemours, and yes… AHRI.

The Push for Appeal

America’s Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute is now pushing for appeal of this ruling.  The deadline for appeal is September 22nd, or only a few days from now. No one knows for sure exactly what is going to happen here. If the court’s ruling stands then the entire market may be turned on it’s head. The prices of HFC refrigerants could fall substantially.

What AHRI is doing is pushing for the EPA itself to push for the appeal. However, if the EPA does not take action then we very well may see Honeywell or Chemour file an appeal. Here is the disturbing part. The AHRI has been contacting the EPA and the White House informing them of the industry’s position on the matter. Evidently, the entire industry’s position is to enforce the HFC phase-out and to push HFO’s onto the marketplace in full force. Who knew?

I may be getting a tad political here but I am just going to be straight forward with you guys and tell you what I think is going on here. Sure, the AHRI and others may hide behind the shield of Global Warming. By cutting HFCs out we can save the world and all of that other hub bub. What they won’t tell you is that the two companies pushing the hardest for HFC phase-outs are Honeywell and Chemours. For those of you who read my article last week you know about these two companies’ monopoly on the HFO refrigerant industry.

Conclusion

This may be the cynic in me but it seems that Honeywell, Chemours, along with the AHRI, are pushing this appeal so hard because they don’t want to lose their investments and their monopoly in the soon to be dominant HFO refrigerant market. To me, all of this doesn’t seem to be about Global Warming but instead lining their pockets with a consolidated market. Think about how much refrigerants the US goes through in a year. Now think about only two companies supplying all of that refrigerant. Prices would go through the roof.

Regardless of how I, or you, feel about this we should know this week if an appeal will be heard or not. I do not know how much power the sitting President or Congress would have over this fight in the courts but maybe they can turn the tide against the conglomerates. I am hoping that HFC refrigerants get more time in the US but only time will tell.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Greetings everyone! I welcome you this weekend to breaking news in the refrigeration world. On August 8th, just a few days ago, a Federal Court in Washington D.C. ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed phase-out of HFC refrigerants. The lawsuit against the EPA and federal government was brought by one of the largest manufacturers of refrigerant in the world, Mexi-Chem and Arkema. These two companies joined together for their suit claiming that the EPA had overstretched it’s reach by using the Clean Air Act, section 612, as the basis for their phase-out of HFC refrigerants. Here’s the problem though, and here’s why there is a lawsuit. This section of the Clean Air Act comes from the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol was formed and signed all the way back in 1987. (You know, the year after I was born!)

The intention of this protocol was to phase out all of the Ozone depleting substances across the world. These included the common CFC and HCFC refrigerants. (R-12, R-22, R-502, etc.) This treaty was used for the past twenty years phasing out all of these damaging refrigerants. In 2015 the Obama Administration’s EPA created a new regulation that would call for the phase-out of all HFC refrigerants. This included your ever popular R-134a, R-410A, and R-404A. The thing is though that HFC refrigerants do not contribute to Ozone deletion, what-so-ever. There is no Chlorine in these refrigerants. No Chlorine means no damage to the Ozone. I wrote an article about this way back in 2015 where I mentioned how underhanded it was. It was not the right way to do it. If HFC’s mattered this much why didn’t they go through congress and get a proper law created?

Personally, I couldn’t be happier with this ruling mainly because the way the EPA went about this was all wrong. Mexi-Chem and Arkema couldn’t be happier either. The big losers here are the EPA obviously, but also Chemours, formerly DuPont, and Honeywell. Both DuPont and Honeywell invested billions into the new HFO refrigerants. They spent their billions on new plants and manufacturing centers across the world. They spent it on research. They spent in on alternatives such as 1234YF and R-452A. Now, here in America, the HFC refrigerants aren’t being phased out. That’s going to hurt.

“The EPA’s authority to regulate ozone-depleting substances under Section 612 and other statutes does not give the EPA authority to order the replacement of substances that are not ozone depleting but that contribute to climate change,” the court ruled. “Congress has not yet enacted general climate change legislation. Although we understand and respect EPA’s overarching effort to fill that legislative void and regulate HFCs, the EPA may act only as authorized by Congress.”

What Happens Next?

The court’s ruling struck down the executive order done by Barack Obama that was part of his climate action plan. So, while HFC refrigerants are not going to be forcefully phased-out in the next few years it doesn’t mean that they will be around forever. Part of Obama’s Climate Action Plan in 2013 was to get as many major companies on board with switching to lesser Global Warming Potential refrigerants such as Hydrocarbons or HFOs. Some of these companies were Coca-Cola, Carrier, Thermo-King, and many others. Even with this ruling a lot of companies have already stated that they will not be changing anything. It doesn’t make sense to reverse course now. What if another ruling happens next year and they have to redo everything they have been working towards? The safer investment is to stick with the new refrigerants. Businesses are always about the safer investment.

Overall this ruling gave everyone more time. R-134a isn’t going to be phased out in 2021 as previously stated by the EPA. (Click here for my article on that.) Now there isn’t a set phase-out date so car manufacturers can still use R-134a on their newer models if they so wish but a lot of them have already begun switching to the new HFO-1234YF. It’s the same story with R-404A. A lot of major companies have already begun switching over to the new HFO R-452A. The big dog of refrigerant right now, R-410A, is the one that I believe will last for at least another decade, maybe two. 410A’s days were numbered due to the HFC phasedown but now with this ruling 410A is the last thing on everyone’s mind. Everyone is focused on replacing 134a and 404A to worry about 410A.

The standard guy in the field wasn’t going to see much of a change over the next couple years anyways but now with this ruling everything may be pushed back another five years. So those old-timers out there may get to retire without having to deal with all of those new fangled HFOs coming on the market. We are still waiting to hear an official statement from the EPA but Honeywell publicly stated, “We strongly encourage the EPA to continue pursuing the phase-out of HFCs and the benefits it provides.”

What is Included in the Montreal Protocol:

The government tried using Chapter VI, 6, of the Clean Air Act to phase-out HFC refrigerants. The name of this chapter is called: “Stratospheric Ozone Protection” See a problem here? Well the courts did too! If we go inside this chapter of the Clean Air Act using the government’s official website we can see that all of the below substances were to be banned. There is no mention of HFC refrigerants anywhere. Funny, how they tried to just throw those in there.

The below is a listing of every chemical that was included in the Montreal Protocol:

Group I

  • chlorofluorocarbon-11 (CFC–11)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-12 (CFC–12)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-113 (CFC–113)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-114 (CFC–114)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-115 (CFC–115)

Group II

  • halon-1211
  • halon-1301
  • halon-2402
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-21 (HCFC–21)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-22 (HCFC–22)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-31 (HCFC–31)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-121 (HCFC–121)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-122 (HCFC–122)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-123 (HCFC–123)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-124 (HCFC–124)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-131 (HCFC–131)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-132 (HCFC–132)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-133 (HCFC–133)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-141 (HCFC–141)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-142 (HCFC–142)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-221 (HCFC–221)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-222 (HCFC–222)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-223 (HCFC–223)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-224 (HCFC–224)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-225 (HCFC–225)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-226 (HCFC–226)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-231 (HCFC–231)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-232 (HCFC–232)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-233 (HCFC–233)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-234 (HCFC–234)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-235 (HCFC–235)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-241 (HCFC–241)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-242 (HCFC–242)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-243 (HCFC–243)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-244 (HCFC–244)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-251 (HCFC–251)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-252 (HCFC–252)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-253 (HCFC–253)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-261 (HCFC–261)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-262 (HCFC–262)
  • hydrochlorofluorocarbon-271 (HCFC–271)

Group III

  • chlorofluorocarbon-13 (CFC–13)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-111 (CFC–111)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-112 (CFC–112)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-211 (CFC–211)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-212 (CFC–212)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-213 (CFC–213)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-214 (CFC–214)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-215 (CFC–215)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-216 (CFC–216)
  • chlorofluorocarbon-217 (CFC–217)

Conclusion

I’m not sure if this ruling is due to the now Republican controlled goverment or if it was just the courts doing their job. I won’t get into politics here but I have to say that the courts did the right thing here. As I said before if the EPA saw it as necessary to phase the HFC’s out then they should have gone through the proper channel and had a new law instated. They shouldn’t have tried to weasel in their own interpenetration of the Montreal Protocol which was clearly designed for Ozone depletion chemicals and not high GWP refrigerants.

Thanks for reading folks,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Sources

Well folks the do-it-yourselfer air conditioning repairman will be quickly coming to a close at the end of this year. No more novices trying to ‘recharge’ their system. No more guys just dumping more refrigerant in. Well, we can at least hope so…unless these guys have a friend in the business. Some of the techs and contractors out there will rejoice at this news but others will be groaning again at more government regulation control. What side of the fence are you on?

What’s Changed?

Starting on January 1st, 2018 the same refrigerant sales restriction that applies to the CFC and HCFC refrigerants on the market today are now going to be applied to the HFC refrigerants. HFC refrigerants are the most commonly used refrigerants in the market today and include R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. Chances are your home air conditioner is using an HFC refrigerant as I write this.

I believe everyone saw that this change was coming but no one knew exactly when. Honestly, I don’t know when the ruling was made by the EPA, or if it was even announced, but I make a habit of checking their website and reading through their regulations. I noticed the change and thought I would spread the word before we hit the deadline. Below is an excerpt from the EPA’s website. You can click here as well to go straight to their site.

Starting on January 1, 2018, the requirements discussed on this page will also apply to most substitute refrigerants, including HFCs.

This sales restriction, just like the previous ones, covers cylinders, cans, drums, or totes of  HFC refrigerants. The only exception to this is are the small cans of R-134a refrigerant that contain two pounds or less. This exception is there to still allow do-it-yourselfers to repair their car’s air conditioning system. So, the EPA allows the homeowner in his garage to dump 134a into his car but they do not allow that same guy to dump pounds of 410A into his three ton home unit. In their defense though, 410A is a lot more dangerous than 134a.

If you are a wholesaler of refrigerant then you will need to keep records of every transaction which include the name of the purchaser, the date of the sale, the customer’s address and contact information, the type of refrigerant purchased, and the quantity of refrigerant cylinders. As a wholesaler you are legally responsible for these records and to discern rather your customer is legally able to purchase refrigerant. (Are they 608 or 609 certified?) This is the same process when selling customers CFCs or HCFCs and to be honest I’m sure most wholesalers are obtaining this information already on HFCs just to be safe so there really won’t be much change for them.

The Why?

Some of you may be asking why this change will be implemented in 2018. While the restriction is still similar to the previous ones on CFCs and HCFCs the reason is quite different. On the past refrigerants such as R-12 or R-22 they were put in place due to their Chlorine content. The Chlorine in these refrigerants were found to be damaging the O-Zone layer of the atmosphere. Each time a refrigerant was leaked or vented into the atmosphere it caused damage. It got to a point where a hole began to form and a global regulations were formed to prevent it from happening again.

HFC refrigerants are a different story. Instead of them containing Chlorine the problem is their greenhouse gases and each HFC’s Global Warming Potential, or GWP. GWP is a measurement of the greenhouse gas emissions that a product releases. It is measured by using the control of Carbon Dioxide. Carbon Dioxide has a GWP of 1. Whereas R-134a has a GWP of 1,430. So, you can begin to see the problem. R-134a has over fourteen-hundred times the GWP of Carbon Dioxide. Each time an HFC refrigerant is vented or accidentally released into the atmosphere it actively contributes to Global Warming.

Conclusion

In conclusion if you are already a tech or a mechanic who works on air conditioning machines and are already 608 or 609 certified then you have nothing to worry about. However, if you were buying HFC refrigerant this year, for whatever reason, and you are not certified then you will find that you will not be able to purchase next year without being certified. Well, you shouldn’t be able to. You may still have some vendors who don’t ask for 608 or 609 numbers before selling but I can assure you that after some time they will learn from their mistakes. Trust me, you don’t want to be on the EPA’s bad side.

For more information on obtaining a 608 or a 609 certification either ask your employer or click the links below. The thing to keep in mind is that if you are going to be working on stationary units like a home air conditioner, a supermarket freezer, or a commercial roof unit then you will need to be 608 certified. However, if you are a mechanic and will only be dealing with R-12, R-134a, and 1234YF then all you need is a 609 cert.

Lastly, if you are wanting to purchase some HFC refrigerants and you are not certified then I highly recommend visiting our store pages below and buying some product today. Also, if you’re interested in bulk purchasing click here to fill out a contact form that we will forward on to a national refrigerant distributor.

Thanks for reading and I hope that I was able to help.

Alec John Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

Honeywell Refrigerants

The race is on to find suitable alternatives to R-404A. In 2009 the Honeywell corporation invented a new refrigerant called Genetron Performax. (R-407F) This new refrigerant is an HFC blend containing forty percent of R-134a, thirty percent of R-125, and thirty percent of R-32. The thinking behind this refrigerant was to come up with a viable alternative to the currently used R-404A  in supermarkets and grocers that would be more friendly to the environment.

R-404A has one of the highest Global Warming Potentials in all of the refrigerants on the market today standing at 3,922 GWP. (Source from Linde-Gas.com) To give you some perspective the GWP of R-134a is only 1,430. Just by looking at the numbers here you can see why there is a large concern over the damage that 404A is causing to the environment and the impact that it is having on Global Warming. This is the main reason that when we hear about the phasing out of HFC refrigerants R-404A is the first one targeted. (The phase out began in the United States last year.)

This new refrigerant designed by Honeywell, R-407F, has a GWP of 1,824. That is over a fifty percent decrease in GWP from 404A. While the 1,824 is still very high for a refrigerant it is significantly better than what we had been using. Imagine if everyone converted over to this new refrigerant. The impact on the environment from supermarket freezers and refrigerated transport would be cut in half.

Along with having the lower GWP than 404A the R-407F is an A1 rated refrigerant. That means low toxicity and that it is non flammable. This is a big deal as a common occurrence with alternatives to HFCs is higher flammability ratings. A few more benefits to this refrigerant are that it is an efficient R-22 retrofit option, lower discharge temperature than R-22, similar cooling capacity to R-404A, uses the same oil as 404A, and has around a ten percent energy savings when comparing to existing 404A systems. (Source on these claims is from Linde-Gas.com)

15,000th Store

At the close of 2016 Honeywell celebrated reaching their 15,000th store being converted over to R-407F. That is quite the achievement. Honeywell predicts that over the course of 2016 they saved over ten million metric tons of Carbon Dioxide equivalent. That is equal to eliminating five million cars off of the road.

Most of these retrofitted units were implemented in the Asia Pacific region and in the European Union. The ASDA supermarket chain in the United Kingdom reported that they consumed fourteen percent less energy on the systems using R-407F when comparing it to R-404A.

Along with the added efficiency these stores and business will be in compliance with the European Union’s F-Gas regulation from 2015. The EU regulation can be found by clicking here, but the main goal is to reduce the EU’s HFC usage by 1/4 of 2014 levels by the year 2030.

Conclusion

R-407F is an HFC refrigerant and as I mentioned above HFC’s will be going away. Honeywell does offer a lower GWP under their new Solstice Hydrofluoroolefins refrigerant line. This refrigerant is called N40 or R-448A. R-448A has a GWP of 1,273 which is sixty-eight percent lower than 404A. This HFO refrigerant is also rated as an A1 by the ASHRAE classification. That means low toxicity and low flammability. The downside to alternative HFO refrigerants is the price. Hopefully, as time goes on the price will eventually lower to be closer to HFCs.

As the years pass by we will begin to see more HFO’s, like the R-448A that I mentioned above, come into the marketplace. While HFC’s are going away the push is on to shrink the GWP of refrigerants as much and as quickly as possible. Even though R-407F will most likely be replaced by an HFO refrigerant in the near future Honeywell is still seeing outstanding success in converting systems over to their 407F. It’s better to start converting now and save some carbon than wait until the ‘perfect’ refrigerant comes along.

I predict that in the next few years we will see the push to switch to the lower GWP HFC alternatives increase and during that increase we will slowly transition over and away from HFCs to the newly developed HFO refrigerants that have even lower GWP.

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed the article please take the time to subscribe to our newsletter by filling out your e-mail in the top right of the page. Thanks again,

Alec Johnson

Owner.

Sources

Alternatives to R-410A?

Rather you like it or not folks R-410A will be going away and it’s going to be happening a lot sooner than everyone thinks. In 2015 the Environmental Protection Agency announced that they will beginning the initial steps of phasing out R-404A in July of 2016, January 2017, and 2018. Along with that they also announced that the tried and tested R-134a will begin being phased out in the year 2020. (2021 model years.) HFCs are quickly coming to an end.

On top of the EPA’s actions on phasing out HFC refrigerants there was an amendment added to the Montreal Protocol only a few months ago in November of 2016. More than one-hundred countries met in Kigali, Rwanda. The United States, the European Union, and many other countries have been working tirelessly on getting an HFC phase out amendment added to the Montreal Protocol for years. Well the last holds out finally gave in and everyone’s dreams finally came true in late 2016. The goal of the agreement was to ban all HFC refrigerants across the world by the year 2100. The United States along with all of the other countries happily signed the agreement.

Under the signed amendment developed countries, including the United States, must reduce their use of HFC refrigerants by ten percent by 2019 from 2011-2013 levels, and then by eighty-five percent by 2036. Along with this developed countries will also have to comply with a freeze of HFC consumption levels in the year 2024. By the late 2040’s all developed countries are expected to consume no more than fifteen to twenty percent of their baselines. In order to meet these guidelines developed countries have already begun phasing out the other HFCs as we discussed above. 410A is not on the chopping block yet but it will be soon.

Everything, and I mean everything, is pointing in the direction that 410A will be no more. The only thing that I could see stopping the phase out of 410A in the near future is the presidency of Donald Trump. Now, keep in mind that this is all speculation, but Trump has said before that he doesn’t believe in Climate Change. So, if you don’t believe in something than why would your country pledge and sign a treaty saying that you would phase something out because of Climate Change? It doesn’t make sense. No one knows what Trump will do though. He may leave things the way they are or he may go back and try to renege on the treaty.

The Four Rules

The race to find an alternative refrigerant for R-410A is on. After all, 410A has to be one of the greatest used, if not the greatest, refrigerant in the world. Everyone needs a cool house and most of the time they’re either using R-22 or R-410A. Finding an alternative has proven difficult though as there has been no perfect match so far. There are four considerations companies have to consider before they can sign off on a golden ticket replacement product. These four ‘rules’ or considerations are Environment, Energy Efficiency, Safety, and Economy.

  1. If we look at the first criteria of environment we have to consider two things. One being that the new product can’t contain Chlorine like the old CFCs and HCFCs of the past. We don’t want a repeat of the O-Zone damage that we went through the eighties and nineties. The second being that the replacement cannot have a large Global Warming Potential like the HFC refrigerants used today. The whole point is to have a refrigerant that does NOT damage the environment, or at least, does not damage the environment as much as the current HFCs do.
  2. Energy Efficiency pretty much explains itself. Obviously we do not want have a gas that would be used across the world that is terribly inefficient. What good would it do to if we’re just wasting energy and impacting the environment in another way? The whole robbing Peter to pay Paul mentality. It doesn’t make sense.
  3.  Safety is another consideration that has to be factored in when finding the ‘perfect’ refrigerant. One of the major risks here is flammability. Each refrigerant has a flammability rating and some are much higher than others. If you have proper training on dealing with flammable refrigerants than there is nothing to worry about. The danger comes in if the R-410A replacement is highly flammable. Commercial units are usually left alone. Only professionals ever attempt to maintenance them. With a home unit you run the risk of having novices or ‘Bubbas,’ trying to maintenance or even install their own machine. Imagine the risk they could be taking if the refrigerant they were dealing with was extremely flammable? (Like R-290.) The other aspect of safety is the toxicity levels of the refrigerant. If you have a leak and it is in a confined area what effect will that have on the people in that area? Will there be permanent damage to them after breathing it, or even death?
  4. Economy is the last and final aspect when looking for an alternative. What good is an alternative if no one can afford it? If a ten pound cylinder is north of $1,000 how is anyone going to be able to afford it? Cost is a large factor when considering an alternative. Truth be told I believe we’re seeing the cost problem now with the 134a replacement. The HFO 1234YF is nearly $700 for a ten pound cylinder. Imagine the cost involved if you had to refill your car after a repair? It’s quite the difference between the $100 cost of a thirty pound cylinder of 134a.

Ok, so with those four considerations in mind let’s review the possibilities of the future for replacing R-410A.

Hydroflurocarbons (HFC’s)

Yes, yes I know. R-410A is an HFC so why would we replace it with another HFC? Well, there is a push to change from 410A over to R-32 refrigerant. The thinking is that this wouldn’t be a permanent solution but more of a temporary until something better comes along. R-410A’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) is 1,725 times that of Carbon Dioxide. This large number is why 410A is being pressured to be phased out. While R-32 is an HFC it’s GWP is only 675. That is about a sixty percent decrease. It’s not a perfect bullet but it would help with the battle against Global Warming.

There are a few benefits to R-32 one of which I mentioned above. The first being the lower Global Warming Potential. The second benefit is that consumers will see a ten percent reduction in their energy usage when switching to R-32. Another pro for R-32 is the cost. It is overall much cheaper than R-410A and is readily available to purchase now. R-32 has seen wide usage across Australia and in July of 2015 was approved for limited usage by the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency. (Visit link to their website here.)

Ok, so we have see the pros of HFC-32 now let’s take a look at some of the downsides.  R-410A is classified as ‘Non-Flammable,’ according to the Safety Data Sheets. The flammability rating on 410A is ruled as class 1. When looking at the same data for R-32 we find that it is ‘Extremely Flammable,’ and is classified under a level 4 for flammability. Both of these come from each products Safety Data Sheets which can be found by clicking here for R-410A and here for R-32. And to think people were freaking out about the flammability of 410A a few years ago!

Another downside to R-32 that companies have complained about is the toxicity of breathing in the product. Proponents have rebutted saying that R-32 is no more toxic than any other refrigerant when breathed in. Which I believe is a perfectly valid point. The last downside and one that is extremely difficult to prove is that R-32 causes cancer. There has been no conclusive tests on this theory and so far it is speculation. The belief is that this rumor started in California due to their strict environmental laws.

So, in review on R-32 we have a cheaper alternative refrigerant to R-410A and one that has nearly sixty percent reduction in Global Warming Potential. But, this replacement product is extremely flammable and may put people at risk. In my opinion I do not believe this refrigerant meets the four conditions to be accepted as an acceptable substitute. (Safety comes to mind.) If we do start using HFC -32 here in the United States than I could see it being only temporary until a better HFO refrigerant comes along. I wouldn’t put money on seeing this at your next service call.

Sources on R-32:

Hydrocarbons?

Hydrocarbons are a different story. They have been around a lot longer than the HFOs and even HFCs. Everyone is at least somewhat familiar with them and even a laymen has heard of most of them. (Propane, Isobutane, Carbon Dioxide.) Some of these refrigerants go all the way back to the nineteenth century if you can believe it. Before the rise of CFCs such as R-12 Hydrocarbons were widely used in various establishments. One of the first air conditioned movie theaters in the early twentieth century was cooled by Carbon Dioxide.

Alright, that’s enough of a history lesson. Let’s dive in and take a look at the possible scenario on each one:

R-290 (Propane)

Alright so let’s get the selling point of R-290 out of the way now. Propane has zero O-Zone depletion potential and only a GWP of only 3. Yes, that’s right. 3. Humongous difference when comparing to 410A’s GWP of 1,725.  Right out of the gate R-290 meets the environmental criteria for an alternative. Overall it is rather energy efficient and the cost is relatively cheap coming in at right about the same cost as a thirty pound cylinder of R-410A. (A little over one hundred dollars a cylinder.) We’re three for four on propane passing the feasibility test. There is just that last one. That one that we overlooked, safety.

The disadvantages are the flammability risk, safety standards/codes, and ensuring each technician is properly trained before handling. If propane is handled in the right way and by a properly trained technician than everything will be fine. However, if ‘Bubba,’ tries to install his own unit or retrofit his own machine with propane that is where things get dangerous. A common occurrence over the years since R-22 has grown more expensive is for companies to market their R-290 product as a drop in replacement for their R-22 units. This is a dangerous practice since the R-22 machines were not meant to use propane. The end result can result in injury or an explosion.

R-290 is already seeing widespread use in India and China and now the middle eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and others are expressing interest for R-290 due to it’s better performance in higher ambient temperature environments. The Environmental Protection Agency has approved R-290 for use in stand alone small charge units including retail food refrigerators and freezers. All that being said though I do not foresee seeing R-290 being widely used as a replacement for R-410A.

R-290 Sources

R-744 (Carbon Dioxide)

R-744 has no harmful environmental effects. I mean, there is nothing more natural than Carbon Dioxide. There is no O-Zone depletion potential and the Global Warming Potential is minimal. In fact as I mentioned earlier R-744 was one of the very first refrigerants used in the world only losing popularity once the easier to use R-12 was introduced.

R-744 requires very low energy to run, is non-toxic, and non flammable. The problem that comes with R-744 is not the dangers of flammability like that of R-290 but instead with economy. R-744 runs at an extremely high pressure during operation. The pressure is so high that the efficiency of the compressor suffers greatly and the durability and thickness of the pipes needs to be increased to compensate. The thickened pipes and the custom high pressure equipment increases the overall cost of R-744 for most uses.  Some could also make the argument that Carbon Dioxide refrigerant due to it’s increased pressure of 2,000 pounds per square inch also makes it dangerous to work on. That’s a tally of two out of four.

While R-744 is seeing usage in other smaller applications like that of refrigerated cases I do not foresee it being used as an alternative to R-410A due to the additional cost of the higher pressure equipment and the potential safety risk of the high pressure.

R-744 Sources

R-717 (Ammonia)

Ammonia or R-717 is often regarded as the most efficient refrigerant gas on the market today. Along with it’s energy efficiency aspect it also has no O-Zone depletion potential and has a Global Warming Potential of zero. The cost for R-717 is much lower than other HFC refrigerants on the market today creating a cost savings if someone was to switch over to R-717.

If we refer to the four rules again that I stated above we are three for four so far. The fourth rule, and honestly one of the most important, is safety. R-717 is not the safest refrigerant… by any means and it is one of the reasons why it is not commonly used in today’s residential market.

Like R-290 R-717 is highly flammable. Don’t let me say it though, let’s take a look at the exact wording on the safety data sheet on R-717: “Flammable. Toxic by inhalation. Causes burns. Risk of serious damage to eyes. Very toxic to aquatic organisms.” – Source. So we have a highly flammable product that has high toxicity and can cause damage to your skin and eyes. I can see why this hasn’t taken off.

While R-717 does have the safety detriments it is still widely used today in many types of manufacturing plants such as dairies, ice cream plants, frozen food production, cold storage warehouses, and meat processing plants.  I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again. This potentially hazardous material works because it is being used in a large commercial setting. The Jo Schmo do-it-yourselfer is never going to tamper or try to fix one of these commercial machines. If something goes wrong at one of these businesses they call in a professional. If R-717 becomes a mainstream refrigerant found in every home in the country than the risk of do-it-yourselfers accidentally burning themselves or worse causing an explosion goes up exponentially. For that reason alone I do not foresee R-717 being used as a suitable R-410A replacement.

R-717 Sources

Hydrofluoroolefin (HFO’s)

HFO’s are already seeing large usage in the European Union and now beginning in the United States. Most of the applications have been under the HFO 1234YF used in automobile applications. As of January 1st, 2017 cars can no longer be manufactured with R-134a systems in the EU. The United States isn’t too far off either with our final date being 2020. (2021 model year.) 1234YF is quickly replacing the R-134a market that we know today. To some it’s 1994 all over again where we phased out the R-12 in place of R-134a.

The selling point on the new  HFO’s are the environmental impact. The goal here was to create something as similar as they could to the current HFCs on the market but without the high Global Warming Potential that comes with them. For example, the 1234YF refrigerant has a global warming potential of four. For comparison, the Global Warming Potential of R-134a is over 3,000. There is a significant difference and the climate will be greatly affected if the whole world switches over to these new HFO refrigerants. (Or Hydrocarbons.)

The problem with HFOs is that they are all in developmental stage. The two conglomerate companies DuPont/Chemours and Honeywell have been putting endless hours and money into developing new HFO refrigerants that could take the place of the beloved R-410A. The other complication with HFO’s is that since they are being invented by only a few companies these same companies hold the patents on the new product. This creates an almost monopoly type setting where Honeywell and Chemours can set whatever price they want on their new Opteon and Solstice brands. Now, I’m not attacking these companies for having a high priced product. There is cost involved and I am sure it is quite high to create these new refrigerants. The reason I bring it up is for you the consumer or the business owner to realize just how expensive these refrigerants are. For example, a ten pound cylinder of the HFO 1234YF goes for about $700. For comparison a thirty pound cylinder of R-134a goes for about $120.

While there are MANY HFO refrigerants under development and available today I am only going to be looking at the possible 410A alternatives. With the introduction out of the way let’s dive into the various HFO refrigerants available today:

Opteon DR-55 (R-452B)

R-452B passed the flammability and toxicology review required by the ANSI/ASHRAE in March of 2016. Upon it’s approval it was given a preliminary ASHRAE number of R-452B. While this new alternative refrigerant from Chemours still has a somewhat high Global Warming Potential of 676 it is still sixty-five percent lower than it’s R-410A counterpart. It also comes with a lower flammability rating than other proposed R-410A solutions. (R-290 for example.)

Along with it being friendlier to the environment  and safe to use R-452B matches the capacity of R-410A allowing it to be compatible with currently used R-410A equipment. This allows for a quick and easy change of refrigerants on existing 410A units in the field.

While this refrigerant is still in the preliminary stages I could definitely see this becoming mainstream once it goes to market. It has right around the same GWP of R-32 but comes with a lower flammability rating. My only concern on this new refrigerant from Chemours is the cost. How much is this going to cost per cylinder when it rolls out this year or next? HFO’s are notoriously known for their high cost. Let’s hope that this new refrigerant doesn’t fall into that same category.

R-452B Sources

Opteon XL41 (R-454B)

R-454B is another new HFO refrigerant that was developed by the Chemour’s company. This refrigerant has the lowest GWP of all of the drop in R-410A replacements out there today. It comes in at a GWP of 466, that is seventy-eight percent lower than 410A. The formula on the refrigerant itself is a very close match to 410A and has been proved to be higher performing than 410A in some instances.

The downside of this new refrigerant is it’s mildly flammable status. While flammable refrigerants are perfectly safe when used in the right hands they can be extremely dangerous in the hands of a novice. Even though this refrigerant is in fact the lowest GWP alternative out there today I do not foresee it becoming a mainstream alternative to 410A simply because of it’s flammability rating. The chances of a homeowner hurting themselves is just too great.

R-454B Sources

SOLSTICE REFRIGERANTS?

I spent some time digging through Google and Honeywell’s website looking for mentions of a feasible R-410A alternative. The best that I found was a press release from 2013, four years ago, saying that they were working on a new 410A alternative. I haven’t been able to find much more news on these refrigerants. When I reviewed their website, which can be found by clicking here, I found four new Solstice HFO alternatives… but they were not for R-410A. Instead they were for R-134a, R-404A, and R-22.

I may be mistaken here and missed the boat on finding their alternatives to R-410A. If I have please let me know by sending me an e-mail and I’ll update this article. (Follow this link and scroll to the bottom to send me an e-mail.)

What’s Winning?

At this point it is hard to say but if I was to put my money down I would be betting on two refrigerants. Over the next few years we are either going to see a push for the Hydrocarbon R-32 or the new Opteon DR-55 (R-452B). As I said before I have a feeling that the cost of the new R-452B will be quite a bit higher than what we are used to today. The consideration that has to be made is the lower cost of R-32 when compared to R-452B worth the risk of extra flammability? Is it worth saving money but having that risk of flammability?

Conclusion

Even though the R-32 and the R-452B refrigerants may be the new normal when it comes to home air-conditioning it is important to realize that they will not last. They are good viable alternatives to the R-410A used today but they are not perfect. They still have a somewhat higher Global Warming Potential. R-32 is too flammable for some people’s taste. R-452B will most likely be to expensive for others. Who knows what the next alternative will be?

There’s no telling what the final answer will be at this point in time. The only certainty is that everything is fluid and the refrigerants that we are using today could change this year or next and that I’ll do my best to keep everyone informed! If you see anything that is incorrect or not factual please take the time to e-mail me by clicking here and I will correct as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed the article please take the time to subscribe to our mailing list by navigating to the top right of the page and registering your e-mail. Thanks again!

Alec Johnson

Owner.

Top 3 Refrigerant Changes in 2015

Hello ladies and gentlemen! It’s that time of year again. The cold wind is blowing, the snow is falling, and the temperature barely gets over twenty degrees across half of the nation. Instead of thinking about the cold I’m thinking about the summer. What will the heat be like next summer? How bad will it be here in Kansas City and how easily can I escape it with my precious air conditioning? (Last year we had nearly an entire month of hundred degree days.)

The refrigerant market is always changing and developing. It seems like every week there is something new and most of the time there is. As we close out 2016 and begin to look forward to the new year to come I find myself thinking about what upcoming changes we will see next year on refrigerant here in the United States. Here are, in my opinion, the three biggest change factors that we will see next year:

1 – Chinese Tariffs1

By now I’m sure you heard talk of tariffs on the importing of Chinese refrigerant. Over the past decade the Chinese have been importing larger and larger quantities of R-134a cylinders into the United State’s market. Just in 2015 China imported over 14,000 tons of refrigerant into the United States. (Source) Along with the Chinese flooding our marketplace with their product they are also bringing it in at a substantially lower cost than what our local manufacturers can get to.

Last year if you were to import a container of R-134a refrigerant cylinders into the United States you could pay somewhere between $40-$50 for a thirty pound cylinder. This was practically half the cost of what Chemours or Honeywell were selling at. There was plenty of margin to be made and I could see why importers brought it in by the ton. If I had the opportunity and the storage space I probably would have done it as well. The reason why the Chinese can get their price so low is due to the cheaper labor costs over there but also in big part because of their government subsidizing the industry and artificially lowering their manufacturing cost. This allowed them to go to market at that $40-$50 price and still make a hefty profit.

In order to combat the low priced Chinese product American companies began to file law-suits with the United State’s International Trade Commission. The law-suit was against China’s dumping of R-134a into the marketplace at an unfair value. The American companies lobbied for a tariff to be installed on all of Chinese 134a imports. The first suit was filed towards the end of 2013. Since then numerous suits have been filed and all have been denied by the Trade Commission. The latest suit filed by the HFC coalition, a grouping of American companies, was filed in March of 2016. Unlike the others this suit may actually end up going through.

In September 29th, 2016 the Trade Commission announced a preliminary ruling saying that they were in favor of installing tariffs on imported 134a product. The preliminary tariff percentage they announced was 137.23%. (188.94% on smaller Chinese companies.) This will take a $50 cylinder of 134a up to $118.62. Quite the difference. For more details on the rulings and what to expect click here for a previous article that I wrote.

2017

So, the question on everyone’s mind is what is going to happen in 2017. Well, there are two things for certain. In February the trade commission will announce their final tariff percentage on imported 134a product. Then a month later in March they will announce their final ruling. This is the big kahuna. This is the one that matters. While the other rulings are important this one in March is the yes or no on rather the tariffs will be instigated.

One solace to small business owners and technicians is that the expected price increase from the 134a tariffs has already hit. When the announcement came from the Trade Commission in September of the 137 percent increase the price on 134a skyrocketed to over a $100 a cylinder on bulk purchases. My prediction for 2017 is that if they rule in favor of the tariffs that the price on 134a will pretty much stay the same. However, if they rule against the tariffs than I could see the price of 134a plummet to high $50s per cylinder on a forty cylinder pallet.

Other HFCs as Well?

At this point everybody is expecting the tariffs to eventually get approved. After all, companies have been fighting for them for nearly four years now. Eventually, one of these times, they will get what they want. It’s just a matter of time. The thing to mention is that these suits have all been focused on 134a and not on 410A, 404A, or any other refrigerant.

Are there tariffs expected on these common HFC refrigerants as well? From everything that I have read and seen on the anti-dumping lawsuits I have seen no mention on R-410A or R-404A. At this point in time I believe that there haven’t been measures taken to impose the tariffs on these refrigerants. As far as what will happen in the future I can only guess. I believe that R-404A won’t be bothered with. It’s being phased out in just over a year anyways. To me the one to watch is 410A. This refrigerant is the defacto refrigerant now for home and commercial use. It’s a prime market for the Chinese to target and it’s a prime market for the American companies to fight back on.

Conclusion

In 2017 I see the tariffs on 134a being approved and instigated. Everything is pointing in that direction. For once in many years the price of 134a may actually be stable for a long period of time. If it doesn’t get approved get ready for a roller coaster of back and forth prices as the American companies compete with the Chinese imports.

2 – The Beginning of the End of HFCs

2

I’m sure most of you guys saw this coming. It was only a matter of time. The beloved HFCs that we have fallen in love with over the past few years are going away. In a meeting in Rwanda in October of this year over one-hundred and seventy countries agreed to and signed an amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This amendment titled The Kigali Agreement is strictly focused on phasing out all HFC refrigerants across the world by the year 2100. Since this was an amendment to an already existing treaty the Obama administration did not need to get approval by congress. Instead, all they had to do was sign. (I’m not too happy about that, but that’s another story and I’ll leave politics out of this.) I wrote a more in-depth article on the Kigali agreement that can be found by clicking here.

Why HFCs?

Some of you may be asking why HFCs? I thought CFCs and HCFCs were the bad ones. I thought Chlorine was the culprit. Well, yes… that’s true. Chlorine being vented into the atmosphere was the culprit in damaging and eventually tearing a hole into the O-Zone layer. It was because of this Chlorine in the atmosphere that the Montreal Protocol was designed and implemented. The Chlorine containing refrigerants had to be phased out. (R-12, R-22, R-502.) The Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987 and only a few years later R-12 was phased out, then in the late 1990’s R-502 said goodbye. Lastly, in the year 2010 we waved farewell to R-22. As we phased out all of these refrigerants we began to replace them all with the newer HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A.

How quickly we change our minds. Now that HFCs have been around for a while and have been implemented all across the globe scientists are beginning to realize the impact that they are having on the environment. While they do not contain Chlorine they do contain extremely potent greenhouse gases that when released into the atmosphere are sometimes 1,400 times stronger than Carbon Dioxide. Think about that number for a second. 1,400 times stronger. That is nothing to scoff at. Now think about all of the developing countries in the world who now have the money and business to support air conditioning units. The explosion of industry in India and China coupled with the amount of HFC refrigerants used around the globe made for a perfect storm. The rise of HFCs has correlated directly into the rise of Global Warming. Scientists and governments were determined to stop it.

Changes

Something had to be done across the globe and that is just what the Kigali Agreement was designed to do. In only a few years, in 2019, developed countries such as the United States are expected to cut all of their HFC consumption/production of HFC refrigerants by ten percent in comparison to 2011-2013 levels. By the year 2036 we are expected to cut HFC usage by eighty-five percent. These agreements are signed into international law and will have to be followed.

On top of all of those changes the United States’ Environmental Protection Agency has announced that they will be starting earlier on HFC refrigerants. Their first target is R-404A. As of January 1st, 2017 supermarket freezers and cold cases can no longer use R-404A on newly manufactured machines. (Source from Chemours.com.) Retrofitting is not allowed either. As of January 1st, 2019 vending machines can no longer use R-404A or R-134a. That’s not the big dog though. No, not even close. In the year 2020, or 2021 model year, it will no longer be acceptable for light duty vehicles to use R-134a. Instead most vehicle manufacturers will be switching over to the lower GWP HFO refrigerant known as 1234YF.

Conclusion

Like it or not this is the beginning of the end of HFC refrigerants. They had a good run of… fifteen to twenty years. It’s on to bigger and better things. It’s on to hydrocarbons. It’s on to natural refrigerants. It’s on HFOs. At least, it’s on to these refrigerants until we find something wrong with them and then the whole process will start all over again.

EPA Phases out HFC Refrigerants
EPA Phases out HFC Refrigerants

3 – The Testing and Pushing of Alternative Refrigerants

3

Obviously, if we phase out HFC refrigerants we need to find a replacement refrigerant that performs well, is cost consciousness, and does not harm the environment. Somehow, this narrows the list down to only a select few refrigerants. Over the past few years there has been a battle brewing between the newly innovated HFO refrigerants such as HoneyWell’s new Solstice brand name or DuPont/Chemours’ new Opteon brand name and natural refrigerants, also known as hydrocarbons.

As of now there is no clear winner in this battle. It really depends on where you look. Hydrocarbons are very popular in some parts of the world like Asia and at other points in the world they are practically unheard of. For example, it is rare to find a hydrocarbon application in the United States. It just never caught on here.

If I was to put money on what the majority of the market will look like in another five to ten years I would put everything on HFOs. My reasoning here is that you have to giant conglomerate corporations known as DuPont/Chemours and HoneyWell developing, innovating, and pushing their new HFO brands. These companies are monsters for a reason. Most of the time they get their way. On top of that there is just nothing sexy about hydrocarbons. HFOs are new. HFOs are exciting. New and exciting are what the people want.

Hydrocarbons/Natural Refrigerants

Hydrocarbon refrigerants have been around for a long time and I’m sure most of you recognize them right away. Some of the most commonly used hydrocarbon refrigerants are as follows:

  • R-290 – Propane
  • R-600a Isobutane
  • R-1270 Propylene
  • R-744 Carbon Dioxide

Hydrocarbons are just as efficient, if not more efficient, than HFC or HCFC refrigerants. They are extremely cheap as well when compared to the newly patented HFO refrigerants such as 1234YF. (1234YF goes for as much as $700 for a ten pound cylinder.) They also have an extremely low global warming potential so there is no risk to the environment when using them.

While all of this sounds good the downside of natural refrigerants are the high risk of flammability. I’m sure that you noticed that one of the refrigerants that I listed above is propane. (R-290) In my opinion it doesn’t get much more flammable than that. Just a few weeks ago there was a story about two men working on a hydrocarbon unit. They were not being careful and ended up causing an explosion that cost both their lives. (You can read the article by clicking here.) This unit contained a mixture of propane and isobutane.

This risk of explosion is what has turned people off from hydrocarbons. Even though they are perfectly safe if handled correctly and maintained correctly there is still that level of fear. People just aren’t comfortable using propane for their primary refrigerant. Think about it. Go up and ask someone on the street if they want to use propane for their air conditioning refrigerant. They’d look at you like you grew a second head.

HydroFluroOlefins (HFOs)

HFOs are still new. In fact they have only been around for about a decade. The most commonly used HFO today and the one that you most likely heard of is 1234YF. Both HoneyWell and Chemours have their own version of it. See below picture of HoneyWell’s Solstice cylinder:

1234YF Refrigerant & Refrigerant
HoneyWell’s Solstice 1234YF Private Brand

1234YF is the now the default refrigerant across the European Union and is used by all of the major European car manufacturers such as Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes, and many others. It has also caught on with the Korean and Japanese car market showing up in Toyota and Honda models. Each year that passes we see more and more 1234YF usage across the world and in the United States’ market.

The 1234YF is accepted widely now. The question is what is next. What will replace R-404A? What will replace R-410A? These questions are still up for debate. There are many alternatives out there today and there are many more being developed. So far there is no perfect cross. There is no telling when that perfect solution arrives but I wouldn’t be surprised if it shows up next year.

Conclusion

As I said above I believe in this battle between the HFOs and the Hydrocarbons that the HFOs will come up on top. They have the bank roll of the mega corporations and they have the appeal of something new. Hydrocarbons will always be here and be with us but at least in the United States I see them taking a back seat to the upcoming dominance of HFOs. All of us will be very familiar with the new Solstice and Opteon brands in the near future.

Conclusion

2017 is going to be an interesting year to say the least. There are all the things I mentioned above to consider and there is also a wildcard that I didn’t mention. That wildcard is Donald Trump. What affect will he have on the United State’s refrigerant industry? He has said again and again that he despises China for their trade war against us. Would that mean that he would put on additional tariffs on Chinese imported refrigerant? Could he raise the cost of R-134a even more?

On the other side of the coin he has said that he wants to get rid of as much regulation as he can and that he doesn’t believe in Climate Change. Could this mean that he will back out of the Kigali agreement? (If that’s even possible.) Could he delay some of the EPA’s actions on HFCs? As I said above, it’s a true wildcard. Time will only tell what will happen.

I hope you enjoyed the article and I hope that you are just as excited for the 2017 year that I am. I feel that this is going to be a big year for me and I hope it is for you too!

Thanks for reading and have a happy new year!

Alec Johnson

Owner.

Well ladies and gentlemen it’s that time of year again. The time of year when a cold wind blows, the temperature doesn’t rise above thirty degrees, and snow flurries fall from the sky. What better time than now than to talk about refrigerant? It’s the slowest point in the season and it seems that when things slow down everyone is able to take a step back and look at what the market is doing and will be doing in the upcoming months.

This post will go over what my pricing predictions are in 2017 on some of the most common refrigerants used today. I am by no means a fortune teller or clairvoyant so I ask that you take these predictions with a grain of salt. My theories are based off of what I have seen happen in 2016 and what I believe will happen in 2017.

For 2017 I see it as kind of a mixed bag. I see the high possibility of two wild cards on a couple refrigerants (R-134a & R-404A) and the others I see as barely changing a dime. Before we get started digging into each refrigerant let’s take a moment and consider the following things that will happen next year in the refrigeration industry:

Considerations

Donald Trump's Affect on the Refrigerant Industry
Donald Trump’s Affect on the Refrigerant Industry
  • Trump – It’s worth noting that next year we will be having a ‘Donald Trump’ effect on the market. Rather this is a good thing or a bad thing is to be determined. Trump has shown that he is against regulations, against the EPA and it’s enforcement of climate changing policies, and most of all he doesn’t believe in Climate Change. All of this bodes well for the price of refrigerant. He very well may get rid of some of the phase outs and extra regulations. However, the other side of the coin is that Trump is VERY anti-China. He is against their so called currency war. He is against their trade policies. He is against dumping of their imports into the United States market. He has also talked about imposing a thirty-five to forty-five percentage tariff on Chinese imports into the United States. This would have a significant impact on not only imported refrigerant but also on US manufactured product. (If I was a manufacturer in the US and saw all the import price rising I would raise my cost too and make some extra money.) I wrote more about what impact Trump will have in another article that can be found by clicking here.
  • Anti-Dumping Tariffs – On top of the ‘Trump Effect,’ we also have the lawsuit filed by the HFC coalition with the International Trade Commission. For those of you that have been paying attention for the past few years I’m sure you are very well aware of it. The claim is that China is importing their refrigerants into the United States market at dirt cheap prices. They can do this because of course labor is cheaper over there but also because the Chinese goverment subsidizes these companies with the unlimited coffers of the goverment treasury. So, when this imported product hits the United State’s market it comes in at a very low price. (Sometimes $40-50 a cylinder.) The initial lawsuit was filed on R-134a and on September 30th, 2016 the Trade Commission made a preliminary ruling in favor of imposing a tariff on imported R-134a from China. The agreed percent was 137.23 on the two main Chinese companies and 188.94% on other Chinese companies. The Trade Commission released a fact sheet on this that can be read by clicking here. 
  • Phase Outs – Along with the other two factors phase-outs is something veterans of the refrigeration industry had grown to hate. It seems that every few years another refrigerant is being pushed out and being replaced by something else. Instead of the goverment coming after the CFCs or HCFCS they are now coming after the friendly HFC refrigerant class. This includes your commonly used R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. Don’t be surprised if you hear of an upcoming phase out of these in the next few months and also don’t be surprised if you see your price raise due to a recently announced phase-out.

Alright, so now that we got all of that out of the way let’s dive into it by looking at each of the common refrigerants out there today:

 R-22 HCFC

R-22 30 Pound Refrigerant Cylinder
R-22 30 Pound Refrigerant Cylinder

Phase-Out

Ok guys first thing’s first. If you haven’t switched your unit from R-22 and over to R-410A DO IT NOW! Your R-22 machine is at least seven to eight years old now and I’m betting that a lot of them are quite a bit older than that. On top of your machine being older it is also less inefficient than it’s HFC 410A counterpart. And finally, R-22 is extremely expensive due to the Montreal Protocol mandated phase out. Every year that passes less and less R-22 is allowed imported or produced in the United States and just like everything else the less supply there is the more demand there will be. According to the EPA’s website, which can be found by clicking here, the phase out schedule of R-22 is as follows:

Year to Be Implemented Implementation of HCFC Phaseout through Clean Air Act Regulations Year to Be Implemented Percent Reduction in HCFC Consumption and Production from Baseline
2003 No production or import of HCFC-141b 2004 35.0%
2010 No production or import of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22, except for use in equipment manufactured before January 1, 2010 2010 75.0%
2015 No production or import of any other HCFCs, except as refrigerants in equipment manufactured before January 1, 2020 2015 90.0%
2020 No production or import of HCFC-142b and HCFC-22 2020 99.5%
2030 No production or import of any HCFCs 2030 100.0%

Now, you may have noticed we’ve hit the majority of these dates already. Remember how I said your R-22 unit is getting old? As shown above no new machines from 2010 or greater can be manufactured with R-22. So, if you have an R-22 machine it is approaching or is already over ten years old. Worst of all, if your unit springs a leak and you run out of refrigerant you face paying a large sum of money just to replace your R-22.

Price

Let’s talk about price now. I’ve been writing my price per pound articles for the past three years now and each time I write one the price of R-22 keeps on climbing up. (My latest price per pound article can be found here.) In my 2015 article R-22 was retailing at about $300 per thirty pound cylinder. In my 2016 article R-22 was retailing at about $480.00 for a thirty pound cylinder. In my latest article that I wrote only a few days ago for the 2017 year R-22 is between $600-$700 for a thirty pound cylinder. That $300 price back from 2015 for a thirty pound cylinder will now only get you a ten pound cylinder for the same amount of money. (Example Amazon link.) It’s amazing at how fast the price can go up.

As you can see the price of R-22 is continuing to climb. The past two years it has gone up thirty percent consistently. My prediction for the 2017 year is more of the same. Let’s call the current price $650.00 for a thirty pound cylinder. That’s a happy medium between the $600-$700 that I’ve been seeing. If we do the below math we will get the number of $928.00.

$650.00 / (1-.30) = $928.00 for a thirty pound cylinder.

So there you have it folks. Next year’s predicted price for a thirty pound cylinder of R-22 is set at $928.00. If you are looking to buy some I would suggest to buy it now before the price climbs any higher. However, if you are on the other side of the coin and you have some inventory that you are sitting on I would hold onto it and watch the value climb and climb. I’ve even heard of some people buying whole pallets a few years back and storing it away in their warehouse for a few years. Imagine the profit if you bought forty cylinders at $300 and then turned around and sold them at $900 a few years later.

$300 * 40 = $12,000 cost

$900 * 40 = $36,000 cost.

Profit of:      $24,000

Not too bad of a deal if you ask me! If you are interested in purchasing R-22 please visit our product page. Also, if you are interested in purchasing pallet quantities please visit our bulk purchasing page. Lastly, please be aware that you need to be certified with the EPA in order to purchase or handle R-22.

R-410A HFC

R-410A Refrigerant 25 Lb Cylinder
R-410A Refrigerant 25 Lb Cylinder

Potential Phase Out

Along with R-134a I would say R-410A is one of the most popular refrigerants on the market today. Nearly every home or commercial air conditioning unit is using or will be using R-410A for their refrigerant. It became the default refrigerant back in 2010 when it replaced the HCFC R-22 as I talked about in the R-22 section.

Now that we went through all of the work of replacing R-22 with the 410A HFC there is now talk about replacing 410A. Can they make up their minds? Even though 410A does not contain Chlorine like it’s predecessor it has been found that HFC refrigerants have a very high Global Warming Potential (GWP). 410A has a GWP of 1,725 times the effect of carbon dioxide. Basically, 410A emits Greenhouse Gases that get trapped in the atmosphere and warm the planet. Now imagine the impact that it could have if every air conditioner in the world begins using R-410A. Startling, huh? So, now the race is on to find an alternative to 410A.

So far there is no end all be all for a 410A replacement. Honeywell, Chemours, and other companies are hard at work as we speak seeking out the best alternative refrigerant with the lowest GWP. Some of the contenders are:

  •  R-32 – This has a GWP of 675, not the best but better than what we have now. I wrote an article about this one last year that can be found by clicking here.
  • Natural Refrigerants such as R-290 and CO2 – So far these have not shown to be a cost effective solution but their GWP is VERY low. (Source article.)
  • DR-55 – A Chemours refrigerant pending approval as R-452B. Blend of R32, R1234yf and R125. GWP of 698. (Source)
  • L41z – A Honeywell refrigerant pending approval as R447B. Blend of R32, R125 and R1234ze(E). GWP of 740. (Source)
  • ARM-71a – An Arkema development refrigerant with a GWP of 460. (Source)

There is no set date on when R-410A will be phased out but I foresee it as only a matter of time. Once a standard replacement has been found than the phase out will begin. This could be next year or five years down the road. It’s difficult to tell.

Price

When 410A started to become popular the price was about on par with the price of R-134a. In 2014-2015 the price hovered between $75 and $80 for a twenty-five pound cylinder. Over the past few years it has climbed about fifteen to twenty percent each year. Today the price is hovering around $130 for a retail customer. (If you purchase more than one cylinder or go in for a pallet of 410A you will save money per cylinder as well.)

Even though the price has climbed over the past few years I honestly don’t see 410A changing much in 2017. The phase out won’t be happening for a while. They haven’t even decided on a replacement product yet and when they do decide the phase out will be a staggered approach just like all of the others. If they decide on a standard replacement product in 2017 the phase out of 410A may not even start until 2022 or 2023. So, with that in mind I predict that the price of 410A in 2017 will stay relatively flat at between $130-$150 retail. Bulk purchasing may get you lower but even then you’re still looking at being in the hundreds, maybe in the high nineties if you’re lucky.

Another thing to mention on 410A is that in 2017 you do NOT need to be certified with the EPA to purchase. If you wanted you could go to Amazon.com or E-Bay.com today and purchase yourself some 410A with no regulations required. However, starting on January 1st, 2018 you will be required to be certified before purchasing or handling any HFC refrigerants including 410A, 134a, 404A, and others. (Source from EPA’s website.)

Lastly, if you are looking to purchase 410A by the cylinder I recommend Amazon.com today or E-Bay.com. If you are looking for a bulk purchase of forty cylinders or more visit our bulk purchasing page and we’ll see what we can do for you!

R-134a HFC

R-134A 30 Pound Cylinder Refrigerant
R-134A 30 Pound Cylinder

Phase-Out?

Remember those wildcards I mentioned at the beginning of my post? Well 134a is one of them. (If you haven’t noticed already by watching the market.) It was announced in the summer of 2015 that R-134a would be joining alongside R-404A in the slow phaseout of applications. The case on R-134a wasn’t  nearly as drastic as it was for R-404A. The phase-out of 404A has already begun where with R-134a we still have a few good years left. (2020 is the main year for vehicles.)

R-134a days are numbered rather you like it or not. More and more newer model cars are opting for the HFO 1234YF made by Honeywell and Chemours. The Global Warming Potential of 1234YF is significantly less than R-134a and it is being pushed heavily by the United States’ Government as well as many other nation states including the European Union. Give it a few more years and 134a will be the exception instead of the rule.

The Anti-Dumping Tariff

Alrighty, ladies and gentlemen. Here were are. The tariff. You may have noticed that the price of R-134a went from about $70 a cylinder this summer all the way up to an average of $110 a cylinder over the fall and winter. This jump in price is in direct correlation to the ruling by the International Trade Commission on a anti-dumping tariff on R-134a imports from China. As I said in the beginning of this post they ruled in favor of imposing a tariff on September 30th, 2016. While this ruling is still preliminary and the final ruling won’t happen until March of 2017 the market still freaked out. (Click here for the Trade Commission’s fact sheet on the ruling.)

The standard price of $70 flew up overnight with the announcement of a proposed 137.23% tariff on all imported Chinese product. (188.94% on smaller Chinese refrigerant companies.) Can you imagine taking a 137% increase in cost for your business? I certainty can’t. This ruling is a double edged sword. If the HFC Coalition gets their way Chinese imports price will sky rocket. This will create a chasm in the market and cause every price on 134a to climb along with the imports… just like it did this fall. You, me, and everyone else will end up paying more for their refrigerant. On the other side is the preservation of American jobs and American manufacturing. We can be competitive again. We can actually buy American made product. Sounds nice huh? Do you want to pay more and save jobs… or do you want to pay those low prices and maybe put your neighbor out of work?

R-134a Tariff Schedule
R-134a Tariff Schedule

Pricing

Alright, so enough about all that other stuff. Let’s get to the reason you came here. What is the price of R-134a going to do next year? Up until the ruling in September the retail price on cylinders was just shy $100.00 on Amazon and E-Bay. After the ruling the price only jumped to about $115. While this may not seem like a big jump I can assure you that on the wholesale side of things we saw our price jump from $80 a cylinder all the way up to over $100 a cylinder. I believe the product that we are seeing sell for $115 online are distributors sitting on old inventory. I do not see this price lasting for long.

As for what will happen in 2017 this is a tough one to call. I do not believe the impending phase out in a few years is going to effect the pricing at this time. My big concern is the ruling on the tariff in March. What will happen if they rule in favor? What will happen if they rule against? Here are my two predictions:

  • If the Trade Commission rules in favor I do not see the market adjusting much at all. I believe the adjustment already happened in early October when their preliminary announcement was made. (It jumped nearly thirty dollars a cylinder.) My prediction if they rule in favor is that wholesale prices will stay just a shy above $100 a cylinder. Retail prices will level out at about $130-$135 a cylinder.
  • If the Trade Commission rules against the tariff than I can see the price plummeting back down to where it was earlier this summer. My prediction would be that wholesale pricing will be in mid $70s and retail pricing will be in the high $90s. 

Lastly, if you want to purchase R-134a by the cylinder I would suggest visiting our Amazon and E-Bay partners. If you are looking for more than just a few cylinders please visit our bulk purchasing page and we will get you in contact with some of our distributors.

 

R-404A HFC

R-404a Refrigerant
R-404a Refrigerant

So-Called Phase-Out

This is the other wildcard of 2017. No one really knows what’s going to happen on the price of 404A as there are so many cards in play in 2016, 2017, and 2018. Starting in July 20th, 2016 the initial phase-out began. While the July date only imposed a ban on retrofitting existing machines over to 404A it was just the beginning. The next big date on 404A phase-out is January 1st, 2017… you know only a few weeks away. The order and the types of machines affected can be very confusing. Instead of trying to explain everything in text I figured it would be easier to review in a table or picture. I pulled these tables directly from Chemour’s website. All credit goes to them for compiling the data. (Click here for source.)

Chemours HFC Phaseout Schedule
Chemours HFC Phaseout Schedule
Chemour's HFC Phaseout Table
Chemour’s HFC Phaseout Table

As you can see from the above tables this is the beginning of the end for 404A. July 2016, January 2017, January 2018, and so on. The big thing to mention though is that 404A will no longer be accepted in these machines it is NOT at this point in time being phased out. Let me rephrase that: R-404A is not being phased out yet but it’s use in certain machines is. So, unlike R-22 where the applications were limited and the production/imports were phased out R-404A is not being phased out. It is just having it’s applications severely limited. Their strategy could very well be phasing out 404A by starvation. If there are no more legal applications what would we use R-404A for anyways? It’s a roundabout way of going about it but maybe this will be the new way to rid the world of HFC refrigerants.

Price

So, what are we looking at as far as price on R-404A next year? Well, before we look to the future let’s look at the past. In 2015 we were at about $90-95 for a twenty-four pound cylinder of R-404A.  The price went up slightly in July of 2015 when the EPA announced their intention to phase out R-404A starting in July of 2016. I believe almost everyone saw it coming anyways so it came as no surprise. After a few months the price leveled out and has remained fairly constant for the rest of 2015.

The price began to climb again in 2016. As shown in the above table the first phaseout was this July with the ban on retrofitting. In just a few weeks the next ban hits. As of right now the price online on Amazon and E-Bay are between $110 at the lowest and at $175 at the highest. It is honestly very difficult to say what’s going to happen next year.  The phase out of machines using R-404A inclines me to believe that the price will go up. But, on the other hand there is no official reduction in R-404A production, only the shrinkage of machines using it.

Because of the supply remaining the same but the demand slowly shrinking I predict R-404A to actually go down in price next year. My prediction is that we will see single cylinder price at the end of next year hovering right around $85-$90 a cylinder. We’ll see if I’m right!

If you’re interested in purchasing R-404A by the cylinder I advise you to check out our Amazon and E-Bay partners for the best deal.  If you’re looking at purchasing more than a few cylinders at a time please check out our Bulk Purchasing page and we will see what we can do for you.

1234YF HFO

1234YF Refrigerant & Refrigerant
HoneyWell’s Solstice 1234YF Private Brand

Background

1234YF is one of the highest priced refrigerants on the market today. A ten pound cylinder goes between $700 to $800 a cylinder. This is substantially higher than it’s HFC counter part R-134a. The reason this HFO is so high in price is due to the demand. At this point in time there just isn’t that much demand for it. Even as I write this towards the end of 2016 the majority of vehicles in the United States are still using the trustworthy HFC R-134a for their refrigeration systems.

While 1234YF is the minority today it won’t be for long. There is already a scheduled plan to phase out R-134a across the United States starting in 2020. (2021 model years on vehicles.) The phase out will be staggered like most of the other refrigerant phaseouts but the process will start in only three short years. Hard to believe 2020 is that close. On top of our phase out the European Union has already phased out R-134a entirely and has moved the majority of their new vehicles over to 1234YF or to other lower Global Warming Potential alternatives.

Price

Over the course of 2016 the price of 1234YF has fallen, albeit slowly. We started the year right around $750 and we are ending the year at a price at or just below $700 for a ten pound cylinder. If I was to predict what would happen next year I would say almost exactly the same thing as this year. The addition of more cars to the marketplace will create more demand for manufacturing. Honeywell and Chemours will respond accordingly and start to add more of it to the market. This will be a slow creep effect and I could see at the end of 2017 that we will be looking at a price of around $620-$650 a cylinder.

As the years roll by and the refrigerant becomes more popular I see us going under $500 but not much lower than that. When the phaseout of 134a starts in 2020 I could see 1234YF jumping up in price for a a few months but as the phaseout wears on the price of 1234YF will settle back down to around $500-$600. In my opinion, the days of lower priced HFCs are gone. HFO’s will always be higher than what we are used to today with our low cost environmentally damaging HFCs. My final prediction for 2017 on 1234F is $635.00 for a ten pound cylinder this time next year.

If you are interested n purchasing 1234YF than I suggest your visit our friends over at Refrigerant Depot. We’ve been partnered with them for the past couple years and they have provided the best product and service to our customers.

Conclusion

As I said at the beginning of this post these predictions are just that… predictions. No one knows exactly what will happen next year and anyone who claims to know is making it up! Here’s hoping that I’m right on 1234YF and 410A and am dead wrong R-22! No one wants to see the price go up. (Well at least I don’t.)

I hope all of you enjoyed my post and my fortune telling on next year’s market trends. Here’s to a happy new year and I wish everyone the best sales next summer!

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.

Donald Trump's Affect on the Refrigerant Industry

Regardless of your politics last month’s election was definitely a surprise. Obviously, the election of Donald Trump will have a profound impact on the country and the rest of the world. The question I ask to you is what kind of impact will he have on the United States’ refrigerant market?

Now, we all know what kind of affect Barack Obama had on the market. While he didn’t preside over the phase out of HCFCs like R-22 he did preside over the beginning stages of phasing out HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. All of his actions were in response to his Climate Change Action Plan. (This link to whitehouse.gov will show more detail.) Obama used the Environmental Protection Agency to impose new regulations on HFCs and to eventually phase them out entirely. His goal was to replace all of these refrigerants with the less potent, but more flammable, HFO refrigerants such as 1234YF. On top of that he also pressured other countries to do the same. (India, China, Pakistan, and others.)

R-404A is the first to go away and the process has already begun. In 2015 the EPA listed R-404A as unacceptable in newly manufactured machines as of 2017. This covers all supermarket refrigerators and freezers. Vending machines get a bit more of a break and have a deadline of 2019. I wrote an article about this at the time of the release and it can be found by clicking here. Next on Obama’s list was R-134a. The EPA has listed 134a as unacceptable in new vehicles as of the year 2020. (2021 model years.) The goal here is to switch everyone over to 1234YF or to other natural refrigerants.

So we know what Obama did and wanted to do the question is what do we predict Trump doing over the next four years? While I am not a fortune teller I believe the answer can be drilled down to two main points:

Tariffs on Imports

Before President Trump was even a pipe dream there were already anti-dumping law suits filed against Chinese companies importing their R-134a refrigerant in mass. The complaint was that the Chinese companies were being subsidized by the Chinese government which caused their price to lower to unheard of levels. Since this cheaper import was being flooded into the United States market it caused the US refrigerant manufacturers to drop their price as well. While this may sound good for the consumer it was actively hurting the manufacturers such as Honeywell, DuPont/Chemours, and Mexichem. Along with hurting US companies it also allowed for impure 134a product from China to enter the market. (Not all of the Chinese product was one-hundred percent 134a.)

The three companies I just mentioned joined together in a group called the American HFC Coalition. The coalition filed a suit with the US government’s International Trade Commission. The Trade Commission took over a year to decide and so far nothing official has happened but the signs are all pointing to an imposed tariff on the imported 134a.

The commission is due to hold another hearing on February 23rd, 2017 on it’s decision. (Link about it can be found here.) The rumor is that there will be around a two-hundred percent tariff imposed on new product. This tariff may in fact even be retroactive on previous imports. So, if you imported 134a in the past you may be at risk of having to pay the tariff or fine on your old product. This has many small business owners very nervous.

Donald’s Stance

Throughout the campaign Donald Trump has stated again and again that he is against China. In his words they have been doing a trade war with the United States and they have been winning. He has also said that he is in favor of large tariffs on companies that move jobs overseas. It only seems logical that he would be in favor of anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese imported refrigerant.

I foresee that when he becomes President that he will push this even more than it already is. Chemours and Honeywell will grab his ear and he will push his Trade Commission hard and fast to approve the tariffs. If this does get approved the price on a cylinder of R-134a could reach upwards to $150-$200 a cylinder perhaps even higher than that.

Climate Change Skepticism

Well that first part was the bad news. Are you ready for the good news now? Donald Trump has stated again and again that he believes Climate Change to be a hoax. Believe it or not, this is good for the price of refrigerants. On top of his stance on climate change he has also stated that he will be getting rid of regulations across the board. Combining these two stances I could see Trump reversing course on the EPA’s decision to phase out 404A and 134a.

The whole reason they are being phased out is due to their Global Warming Potential and how they contribute to Global Warming. If Trump doesn’t believe in Global Warming in the first place why would he instill these hardships on businesses across the country? It just doesn’t make sense.

I don’t see this being a top priority for Trump right away but I feel as time goes on into his term and his consultants bring this to his attention that he will make the move to stop the HFC phase out before the deadline hits.

Conclusion

Having Trump is a mixed bag for the refrigerant industry. On one hand you get the Climate Change skepticism and the most likely remaining of HFC refrigerants. On the other hand though you have his hatred of China and their trade war. Over the next few years I predict we’ll see:

  • Tariffs installed not only on 134a but on other refrigerants as well. (410A and maybe even 1234YF.) These tariffs will force companies to make their product here in the US.
  • Reduction or total cancellation of HFC phase outs. (Including 404A, 134a, and 410A.)

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.

2017 Price Per Pound Refrigerant

Hello ladies and gentlemen! It looks like another year is passing us by again and with another year comes a whole other set of possibilities. As I write this article it is twenty odd something degrees outside and we’re expecting some snow in Kansas City tomorrow. Some may say it’s a funny time to write an article on refrigerants but I say what better time is there than this? When the cold wind is blowing and the snow is falling I find that my mind is thinking on what the price of refrigerant is going to do next year. Maybe that says more about me than it should.

Anyways, over the past few years I have written multiple articles detailing the exact price per pound on refrigerant. Each article has been met with astounding success and I feel that it is my duty to write another article for the upcoming 2017 year. Instead of writing multiple articles on the varying types of refrigerant I am instead going to focus on the three most common refrigerants in the market today in one large post. This may be a long winded post and if you are in a hurry with the contractor standing over you shoulder I suggest you scroll down to the refrigerant that you are looking for and look for the bold text. That will give you the breakdown that you need. If you’re here to read the article in full than by all means read on my friend.

Know This Before Purchasing

You’re Paying for Knowledge

The information that I am going to give you in this article is the exact price per pound that your contractor or your mechanic is paying. Now, we may be off by a few dollars here and there depending on when they bought their product but we are more or less right in line with their cost. There is a fine line to walk here as you are paying your contractor or mechanic for not only their labor but also for their expertise. Do you know how to flush the system? Do you know what refrigerants can be vented and which cannot? In some instances you may not even legally be able to buy the type of refrigerant that you need. (R-22 comes to mind.) While you may have their cost you also need to use the consideration and the common decency to accept their mark up. They need to make a living just as much as you do. The balancing act here is determining what is a fair mark up and what is price gouging. It is up to you to walk that line and negotiate the best price. All I’m here for is to give you the information.

Your AC Unit is a Closed System

Before your purchase any refrigerant either for yourself or from a contractor you need to realize that the refrigerant in your air conditioning unit is in a closed system. What that means is that the refrigerant is an endless cycle from gas to liquid from gas to liquid. This cycle repeats forever as shown in the below picture.

Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System
Refrigerant Cycle in a Closed System

If you find that your unit is low on refrigerant or is completely out do NOT just refill your machine with a new refrigerant. I repeat do NOT do this. Your system does not need a top off. It does not need just a little bit more refrigerant to get by. No. If you are running out of refrigerant that means that somewhere in the refrigerant cycle there is a leak. Your unit is leaking refrigerant and will continue to leak refrigerant until a repair is made. If you dump more refrigerant into it without fixing the leak you are literally throwing money down the drain. Potentially a lot of money too if yours is an R-22 unit.

Old R-22 Machines

For those of you who do not know the old HCFC R-22 refrigerant was phased out in 2010. What this means is that no new air conditioning machines can be manufactured with R-22 as of 2010 or greater. This was done in accordance to the Montreal Protocol due to the Chlorine that the R-22 Freon contained. The Chlorine was found to be burning a hole in the O-Zone layer. (Come to find out that is a bad thing.) The phase out was staggered over many years and with each year that passes the price on R-22 climbs and climbs. I remember a few years ago where it was going for two-hundred for a full cylinder and now you can’t buy a cylinder for less than six-hundred dollars. It has gotten to the point now that if your unit is completely out of R-22 refrigerant due to a leak it may make more sense for you to just buy a new machine entirely and make the leap over to the 410A HFC.

Alright, so now that is out of the way let’s dive into the numbers:

R-22 Refrigerant Price Per Pound 2017

Ok, so you’ve got an R-22 unit that needs a refill. The rule of thumb that I like to use when checking prices is rather easy. I simply go to Amazon and E-Bay  and physically check the price of the refrigerant there. These prices are more or less in line with each other. There may be a few outliers here and there but for the most part they should average out to about the same price. As I write this article in mid December 2016 the price on Amazon and E-Bay on R-22 is between $500-$650 for a thirty pound cylinder. There were some upwards to $800 but in this example I am going to use the price of $700.00 for a thirty pound cylinder. You can do the math later and get your own numbers.

Alright, so let’s get to it:

$700 / 30 lbs of refrigerant per cylinder = $23.33 per pound.

The standard amount of refrigerant needed per unit is two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton of your air conditioning unit. (You should always check the exact specifications of your machine, but most of the time the two to four pound guideline will be sufficient.) Most home air conditioners are between one ton and five tons. (Anything over five tons is considered a commercial grade unit.)

So, let’s get on with our math problem. Let’s pretend that you have a middle of the road three ton air conditioning unit that is on the fritz with no refrigerant in it. In order to refill your unit entirely you will need the following:

4 pounds of refrigerant * 3 ton unit = 12 pounds of refrigerant needed.

12 pounds of refrigerant times the $23.33 per pound number we came up with earlier = $279.96 for a completely fill up of your unit.

As I stated before please note that this cost is at or will be very nearly at the cost of your contractor. You will need to account for his markup in this, otherwise why is he even there? (Please note that if you want to purchase a cylinder of R-22 refrigerant yourself you will need to be 608 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency before you are eligible to purchase.)

R-410A Refrigerant Price Per Pound 2017

Well folks, here’s the good news. If you’ve got a 410A unit you are in much better shape than those poor souls who still have their old R-22 unit cranking away. 410A is much cheaper than R-22 and over the years since it’s major debut the price has remained relatively stable. 410A is overall more efficient, costs less, and best of all it can be bought by you, me, or anyone else. There are no certifications required to purchase 410A. (Click here to view the EPA’s website stating just that.) It is worth noting that as of January 1st, 2018 you will need to be certified to buy HFCs but for 2017 you can still purchase yourself.

Let’s get down to business. Much like I did for the R-22 section above I am going to defer to Amazon and E-Bay to get my price average on a twenty-five pound cylinder of R-410A/Puron refrigerant. As I write this in mid-December 2016 the price looks to be between $120-$150 per twenty-five pound cylinder. For argument’s sake I’m going to use the highest cost, $150. Let’s do the math together:

$150 / 25 lbs of refrigerant per cylinder = $6.00 per pound of refrigerant.

Now that we have the price per pound let’s factor in how much refrigerant the typical residential machine needs. The standard amount of refrigerant needed per unit is two to four pounds of refrigerant per ton of your air conditioning unit. (You should always check the exact specifications of your machine, but most of the time the two to four pound guideline will be sufficient.) Most home air conditioners are between one ton and five tons. (Anything over five tons is considered a commercial grade unit.)

Again, let’s use the medium sized three ton air conditioner example. Ready? Let’s do some more math:

4 pounds of refrigerant * 3 ton unit = 12 pounds of refrigerant needed.

12 pounds of refrigerant times the $6.00 per pound number we came up with earlier = $72.00 for a complete fill up of your 410A machine.

As I stated before please note that this cost is at or will be very nearly at the cost of your contractor. You will need to account for his markup in this, otherwise why is he even there? Also, as I said above in 2017 you can still buy 410A without being certified with the EPA. This rule is supposed to change in January 1st of 2018. If you were so inclined you may stock up by buying on Amazon and E-Bay .

R-134a Refrigerant Price Per Pound 2017

For those of you who don’t follow refrigerant news too closely there has been a lot of drama on R-134a in 2016. There has been talk about phasing out the HFC refrigerant entirely by 2020/2021. On top of that there has been an ongoing battle between Chinese companies and USA manufacturers on the dumping of low priced Chinese product. Just recently the United States Trade Commission board ruled in favor of adding tariffs to 134a imports. This caused the price of 134a to skyrocket from about $70 a jug upwards to $110-$140 a jug.

I’m writing this article in mid December of 2016 I have no idea what the price of 134a will be in the future but the formula that we will use will be the same. If the price changes you can use the same math and be assured that it is correct. Like before I am going to check Amazon and E-Bay for the most accurate price of 134a at the time. I am assuming that most of you will be buying the singular cans of 134a rather than the full thirty pound cylinder. (You don’t need to be EPA certified to buy cans, but you do for cylinders.) Looking at Amazon today I see that it’s $20.00 for a pack of three cans. Let’s do some math:

$20.00 / 3 pounds of refrigerant = $6.66 per pound. (No devil jokes, promise.)

Now that we have the price per pound the question is how much refrigerant does your car take? Well, there is no easy answer for that. Most cars take between two to three pounds of refrigerant but there are some applications that take upwards of nine pounds. It is best to check your specific car to see exactly how much 134a you need.

For argument’s sake let’s use a three pound car for our math:

$6.66 per pound of refrigerant * 3 pounds = $19.98 for a fill up of your car’s 134a refrigerant.

As I stated before please note that this cost is at or will be very nearly at the cost of your mechanic. You will need to account for his markup in this, otherwise why is he even there?

Conclusion

Well, ladies and gentlemen that’s about it. I hope that this article was able to save you money during the upcoming summer months. For now, I am going to grab a hot cup of coffee and watch the snow fall.

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.

It was announced yesterday that the government of India will be likely to impose anti-dumping measures on Chinese imported R-134a refrigerant. The proposed tariff would be $1.22 per kilogram of refrigerant brought in, or for us Americans an additional $00.55 per pound on 134a Chinese imports.

The goal of adding tariffs to the imported Chinese is to make the cheaper imported refrigerant cost higher than the domestically made 134a made in India. This allows the local companies to gain sales while punishing the imported product. India’s sole manufacturer of 134a, SRF LTD, filed the application for anti-dumping directly to India’s government. In it’s ruling, the Indian Commerce Ministry, concluded that there is dumping of 134a imports into the India market and hinted that they were going to be ruling in favor of the tariff.

In my opinion the anti-dumping tariff will pass in India without issue mainly because they already passed a law similar in 2011 at $1.15 per kilogram. This tariff from 2011 is set to expire at the end of this year, so this proposed anti-dumping would replace the current one.

The United States

While this article covers India’s measures to stop the flow of Chinese imports it should be noted that the same fight has been going on in the United States over the past couple years. At the end of 2014 an anti-dumping suit was filed with the International Trade Commission, but after some debate it was denied in the middle of 2015.

After only a few months later the law-suit was brought back up and filed again, this time by the HydroFluroCarbon Coalition. This coalition is comprised of the various manufacturers of refrigerants in the United States such as Chemours, Honeywell, and Mexichem. Although the first measure was denied I believe that this latest measure could very well pass.

The trade commission came out with a preliminary ruling in April of 2016 stating that they were leaning towards approving the anti-dumping. They are set to announce their decision in August of 2016. I wrote an article on this in April, click here to view.

If the measure does get approved it is not known yet exactly how much the tariff will be and if it will only apply to Chinese imports. The one thing that I can be sure of is that if this does get approved in the United States expect the pricing on R-134a to go haywire. Can you imagine an  extra dollar per pound tariff on a thirty pound cylinder?

There are some companies who have been buying up on R-134a in expectation of a yes ruling, but if the commission decides on another no and the price drops these companies are on the hook with high priced product. It’s a gamble either way, no one really knows what the United States will decide.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

Owner.

Sources

Towards the end of last year the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new rule that would modify the current Refrigerant Sales Restriction. As it is today if you wish to purchase CFC or HCFC refrigerants such as R-12, R-22, or R-502 you would need to either be 609 or 608 certified with the Environmental Protection Agency. The goal of this was to prevent O-Zone damaging refrigerants such as CFCs/HCFCS out of the hands of laymen and to have them only be controlled by the fully trained technicians. This would prevent unnecessary leaks of chlorine into the environment and if there was a leak the person could be held accountable.

If you wanted to purchase or handle some of the newer alternative refrigerants such as R-134a, R-410A,  R-404A you would not need to be certified with the EPA. These refrigerants are known as HFCs and they do NOT contain chlorine and do not effect the O-Zone layer. That being said, HFCs are not perfectly friendly to the environment either. They have been found to have a high Global Warming Potential and when an HFC is leaked it gets trapped in the atmosphere and actively contributes to Global Warming.

The new proposed rule by the EPA would modify the current section 608 in the Federal Clean Air Act. The current rule reads that all refrigerants under class 1 and class 2 are strictly monitored and only 608 and 609 technicians can purchase and use.  Class 1 and 2 refrigerants include CFCs and HCFC refrigerants like R-12 and R-22. The EPA has proposed removing the words ‘Class 1’ and ‘Class 2’ from the restriction and replacing it with the word ‘Refrigerant.’ The full proposed rule can be found by following this link to the EPA’s site. An excerpt is also posted below:

“To extend the sales restriction, EPA is proposing to remove references to class I and class II substances where appropriate in these provisions and to replace them with the term refrigerant, which EPA is proposing to amend in § 82.152 to include substitutes. To avoid confusion, EPA is proposing to add a provision specifically noting that the sales restriction does not apply to substitutes that are exempt from the venting prohibition. EPA is also proposing to amend the purpose and scope statements at § 82.150, both of which describe the sales restriction as only affecting class I or class II ODS. EPA is proposing to add the term substitutes to these purpose and scope statements to clarify that the sales restriction, as well as the other provisions of the rule, would apply to ODS and substitute refrigerants.”

This is a BIG change. If this proposed rule passes that means no more can the do-it-yourselfer purchase one or two cylinders of refrigerant to work on their home unit. If this rule passes that means the same record keeping requirements that are done for CFCs/HCFCS would have to be kept on HFCs and all other refrigerants. (Many of you may already be doing this though.)

To the EPA’s credit they did make a small exception for automotive applications. Non certified people will still be able to purchase refrigerant but only in two pound or less containers. On top of the two pound requirement the refrigerant can will also have to have a self sealing valve to reduce leaks. So, if you’re one of those guys who still likes to work on their own car than you are still in luck… for now.

Closing

It’s hard to say what impact this will have on the industry if the rule passes. On one hand it will damage the hands on do-it-yourselfer crowd who like to save money and tackle the projects on their own. On the other hand it will only help the HVAC business and contractors as with each year the ability to purchase refrigerant gets narrowed down to only an exclusive few. I can definitely see the markup on refrigerants moving much higher over the new few years after this rule passes.

Thanks for reading,

Alec John Johnson

Owner.

Sources

Opteon DR-55 to Replace R-410A?

Yesterday I did a post about the upcoming meeting in Dubai to discuss the phase out of HydroFluroCarbons. Well, before we can phase out HFC refrigerants we need to have a suitable replacement product. The refrigerant industry is moving towards HydroFluroOlefins, or HFOs, instead of the alternative natural refrigerant such as CO2, Propane, or Ammonia.

There is already an HFO replacement, 1234YF, for the R-134a refrigerant that is in wide scale production and is being used throughout the European Union. Another common HFC refrigerant, R-404A, also has a direct HFO replacement out known as R-452A. That only leaves one big HFC refrigerant left needing a replacement, and it’s a big one.

It seems like just yesterday we were switching everybody over to R-410A systems but now it seems that 410A systems will be going away before we know it. The Chemours Company, formerly DuPont, has come out with a  new HFO R-410A replacement known as DR-55, or under their brand name of Opteon XL55.

Facts of DR-55

What are the benefits of this new HFO refrigerant? How does it compare to 410A? Does it still operate at the higher pressure level? Can it be dropped in or will retrofitting be required? I pulled this information from the official Chemours site and it can be found by clicking here.

  • DR-55 is non O-Zone depleting.
    • This seemed like it would be a given since all of the hassle we went through in the 90s and 2000s on CFCs/HCFCS.
  • DR55 has a lower Global Warming Potential, or GWP, compared to it’s HFC 410A counterpart.
    • R-410A has a GWP of 2,088 whereas DR-55 has a GWP of 698. That is an over sixty percent reduction.
    • It is important to note that yes, DR-55 has a lower GWP than R410A but it still has a rather high GWP and it will most likely be replaced by something new and better in the future. The goal here is to get the GWP number as low as possible.
  • Low Flammability – This has been an on-going concern on the new HFO refrigerants. Daimler, and some other German manufacturers, have expressed concern on the R-134a HFO counterpart 1234YF due to it’s flammability.
  • Five percent more efficient than R-410A refrigerant.
  • Direct replacement for R-410A units, no retro-fitting required.

Opteon-XL55-properties

Trane

Last week the company Trane showed the first ever air cooled demonstration chiller with the new DR-55 HFO refrigerant at the International Conference of Refrigeration in Yokohama, Japan. At this time DR-55 is being evaluated by the HVAC industry and government agencies for use in residential units.  Once approved it is expected units could start shipping in twelve to eighteen months.  It may take some time before we begin seeing DR-55 here in the United States but I would predict it will start picking up popularity in the Asian markets and potentially in the European Union.

I gathered this information from the article linked here.

Summary

All in all I believe DR-55 could be a viable alternative to the R410A. The question is how long will it be before DR-55 is replaced by something new and shiny? I might be a little cynical here but it seems like every few years we find something wrong with the current refrigerant that we are using. If DR-55 does become a common replacement I predict it will only be around for ten to fifteen years before the next new thing comes along promising better environmental protection.

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed the article please take the time to subscribe to our newsletter or like us on Facebook.

Alec Johnson

Owner.

Sources

 

 

Montreal Protocol 2015 Meeting in Dubai

In just a month from now one-hundred and ninety-seven countries will meet in Dubai for the twenty-seventh meeting of the Montreal Protocol Treaty. The meeting is to start on November 1st and is expected to last most of the week.

Unlike in the past where these meetings were held to discuss the damaging of the O-Zone layer and the coordinated phase outs of ChloroFluroCarbons and HydroChloroFluroCarbons this meeting will be focused not on the O-Zone but instead on the Greenhouse gases and Global Warming caused by HydroFluroCarbons. Over the course of 2015 there have been four different amendments submitted to the Montreal Protocol to globally phase-out HFC refrigerants such as R-134a, R-404A, and R-410A. These amendments are as follows:

  • Mexico, Canada, and the United States submitted one earlier this year.
  • The European Union formally submitted one this year as well. It’s important to remember that this is most of Europe.
  • ‘Micronesia,’ nations submitted an amendment as well. These countries include Kiribati, Palau, Philippines, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Samoa and Solomon Islands
  • The big change this year is that of India, one of the biggest protestors of the HFC phase-out, submitted an amendment at the beginning of this summer. On top of India, China has also declared support for the HFC phase out. I wrote an article on the Indian amendment earlier this year and it can be found by clicking here.

Will the Phase Out Amendment Pass?

Western nations have been pushing for this phase out for the past few years and with each month that passes the resistance dissolves little by little. There were two big steps towards progress that happened earlier this year. The first being that India is now on board and had even submitted an amendment. The second being that China has agreed to phase out their HFCs as well. With these two behemoths out of the way it only leaves a few smaller countries resisting to the phase out.

These countries are as follows:

  • Saudi Arabia
  • Kuwait
  • Pakistan
  • Miscellaneous smaller middle eastern countries.

There were informal talks earlier this year in Paris. The hope was to hammer out the details and get any opposition out of the way then so when the time came for the November meeting there would not be any resistance. The middle eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia, I believe will bow to pressure at next month’s meeting. Saudi Arabia was already receiving significant pressure from the ‘United African Group,’ about their opposition. It is only a matter of time before they join everyone else. Once Saudi falls the other smaller middle eastern countries will follow suit.

The country to look out for is Pakistan. During the July talks in Paris Pakistan outright blocked any further talks on an HFC amendment to the protocol. The reason they gave was that alternative refrigerants such as HFOs or natural refrigerants would not work as efficiently in their hotter environment. It seemed like a superficial complaint as many other countries with just as hot climates are on board with the phase out. The real question is will Pakistan continue it’s resistance during the November meetings, or will they bow to pressure and let he amendments pass?

Staggered Approach

When the amendment passes, and it most likely will, it is important to keep in mind that the usage and production of HFC refrigerants will not instantly be shut off like a light switch going from on to off. The same staggered approach that was used for phasing out HCFCs will be used here as well. In fact the United State’s Environmental Protection Agency has already begun the phase-out of HFC refrigerants already. Early this summer the EPA announced that they would begin the phase out of R-134a in automotive applications and R-404A in vending machine and transported carrier applications. I wrote an article about this here.

So, when the amendment passes know that it’s not the end of the world. Your government will adopt a staggered approach that will most likely be mapped out in this same November meeting.

Summary

As of today there is nothing to panic or be alarmed about. The end of HFCS is coming and the amendment will most likely pass next month but I do not predict any large price increases coming, at least not for quite a while. If I was a betting man I would bet that the R-404A will be the first price to significantly rise over the next few years. (It is scheduled to be phased out in 2017.) If you fast forward a few more years R-134a will start to climb as we approach the 2021 deadline. All in all, keep an eye out and your ear to the ground and you’ll be fine.

Thanks for reading and if you enjoyed the article please take the time to subscribe to our newsletter or like us on Facebook.

Alec Johnson

Owner.

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Pakistan blocking the HFC amendment to the Montreal Protocol

Last week the French President Francois Hollande held a Climate Conference in Paris backed by the United Nations. This conference involved many countries from across the globe and one of it’s main objectives was to hash out an agreement on an amendment to the Montreal Protocol that would ban HFC refrigerants across the world.

HFCs are the fastest growing group of greenhouse gases in the world and the usage has only been going up. Per year it is estimated that HFC usage rises by ten to fifteen percent. Their usage has been ranked as one of the top ten contributors to Global Warming and climate change. By approving the amendment to globally phase out HFC refrigerants it could save 1.1-1.7 gigatonnes  of Carbon Dioxide by the year 2030. (This is approximately what Canada out puts per year.)

With all of that being said I at least have to mention the original purpose of the Montreal Protocol. Way back when it was first being crafted in the late 1980s it’s original intent was to phase out O-Zone depleting substances such as Chlorine. Chlorine was found in all CFC and HCFC refrigerants such as R-12, R-502, and R-22. This treaty was passed and CFC/HCFCs were phased out across the world, as you all know.

But now, now they want to add this HFC amendment to the same Montreal Protocol treaty. Even though HFCs do not contribute to O-Zone depletion the governments of the world are still pushing to add the HFC refrigerants to the Montreal Protocol to be phased out. Seems kind of like the lazy way to do it, eh? Let’s not bother with making a whole new treaty designed to attack the Global Warming Potential chemicals, instead let’s just add to this one we made nearly thirty years ago.

The HFC Amendments

At this point in time there are four different amendment proposals that have been submitted by varying countries including the United States, Mexico, Canada, the European Union, India, and the Pacific Island States. Mexico, Canada, and the United States formed a joint amendment. (I wrote about this earlier this year.)

The European Union filed a joint amendment as well in early 2015. On top of that a collection Pacific Island States filed a joint amendment as well. But the biggest news is that earlier this year India filed it’s own proposed amendment to phase out HFCs. This is big news as in the past India has been of the biggest opponents to phasing out HFC refrigerants. (Article found here.)

The purpose of this July meeting in Paris was to get more of a framework built between the four amendments prior to the November meeting in Dubai. As it stands today there are four different amendments all with different guidelines, rules, and restrictions. In order for an amendment to be voted and agreed upon there needs to be a consolidated amendment between all countries.

Opposition to Phase-Out

In the past the major opposition to phasing out HFCs came from China and India. There are other countries that were opposed but none that were the size of the giants that are China and India. Late last year Obama met with Chinese officials and after some time he was able to negotiate a climate agreement from China. This was a big deal, as China has been a staunch opponent to advancing any of these amendments.

On top of the promising news from China, India has also made an about face on their stance. A few months ago India announced that they are now in favor of phasing out HFC refrigerant across their country. Not only that, but they even took it a step further and submitted their own Montreal Protocol amendment. (Article here.)

With India and China out of the way there only stood a small scattering of opposing countries. These countries include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Pakistan, and a handful of other smaller middle eastern countries. In the past few months Saudi Arabia has been facing intense criticism from the ‘African Group,’ which has been in favor of the HFC phase-out.

During the meeting the Saudis set complex conditions in order for them to be in favor of the HFC phasedown. After a week of stalling and negotiating the Saudis eventually softened their stances and conditions. I’m not entirely sure why but it is most likely either due from pressure by the African Group or from other countries outside of Africa. It looked like the Saudis were close to siding for the amendments.

But then Pakistan happened. Pakistan outright blocked any further action on the amendments. They stopped the beginnings of any formal negotiations stating that alternatives to HFC refrigerants would not work well in their hotter climate. This seems like an odd complaint as many other countries in just as hot if not hotter environments have jumped on board with these amendments.

Pakistan held firm though throughout the negotiations and did not concede to any changes. There has been another climate meeting scheduled before the November 1st meeting in Dubai. The meeting in Dubai is when all of the Montreal Protocol parties formally meet and will end up voting on an amendment. (If there is on hammered out by then.) The hope with this new meeting that was scheduled is to get Pakistan on board before the Dubai gathering. We’ll see what happens…

When Will the Amendment Be Added?

At this point it’s anybody’s guess. Towards the beginning of this year supporters of the amendments were getting excited. It looked like a deal could be pushed through at the Montreal Protocol meeting in Dubai. There would be a new amendment by November, 2015.

But, as time has progressed it’s looking less and less likely that it will be approved in November, 2015. After all, that is only three months away. I do not foresee Pakistan turning that quickly, but who knows? Maybe they’ll get a nice reward for agreeing to the terms.

Phase-Out Dates

I won’t get into too many details here but it is worth mentioning that when the HFC amendment passes the Montreal Protocol it is not going to be like a light switch going from on to off. These governments realize that it would be impossible to switch everybody over to the new alternative refrigerants instantly. Most of these new rules and regulations will not come into play for five, ten, or even fifteen years from now.

So, if it does pass rest assured you will have time to prepare.

Conclusion

No matter how many times the HFC amendments get stalled the fact of the matter is that they are going to be phased out, and soon. Each quarter that passes it seems that the opposition shrinks and shrinks. If I was to guess as to when the amendment would be added to the Montreal Protocol I would guess mid 2016. That should give enough time for the opposing countries to finally cave.

HFOs and Natural Refrigerants are the refrigerants of the future, and they’re coming soon. Will you be ready?

Sources

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Alec Johnson

Owner.

 

Yesterday I wrote an article detailing the announcement by the EPA to begin phase out of HFC refrigerants across the United States. This first announcement covers R-134a and R-404A. (Others are included, but these are the biggest affected.) The article can be found by clicking here.

Now that these changes have been announced the next question on everyone’s mind is what is going to happen to the price on these HFC refrigerants? We all know what occurred with R-22’s price once the phase out began. Back in the hay day when R-22 was as popular as ever the price was around one-hundred dollars a cylinder. Today that price has all but tripled to about three-hundred dollars per cylinder.

R-134a

We have a little bit of time on R-134a before any real changes occur. The deadline for R-134a being discontinued that was given by the EPA is the year 2021. (There is an exception for exports out of the country, that cut off is year 2025)

I predict that after this ruling was announced yesterday that the price of R-134a will jump a bit over the next few weeks, but we will not see any substantial as far as price increases. 2021 is still six years away and I feel that the market will go back to the status quo after some times passes and it is accepted that 134a will be going away.

As we edge closer to 2021 I can definitely see the pricing began to creep up, but as I said before this is most likely a few years down the road. I think for the 2015 year we should be fairly stable, most likely even into 2016.

R-404A

R-404A is a whole different story compared to 134a. The deadline is much shorter on 404A. The supermarket industry is given until January 1st, 2017. Vending machines are given a little bit more leeway and given the year January 1st, 2019. The thing to keep in mind though is that January 1st, 2017 is less than a two years away. In fact, it’s only eighteen months out.

I predict the price of R-404A to start climbing and fast. Companies are being incentivized to use alternatives to R-404A and now we are facing ban on using 404A in new applications in as early as eighteen months. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the price double over the next year and maybe even triple as we enter 2017.

Conclusion

Keep a vigilant eye on your HFC pricing. If you began to see a rapid climb in pricing now may be the time to buy up and store it in your warehouse. After yesterday’s ruling I highly doubt pricing will fall, it will most likely only go up.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

Owner.