EWS warns about the risks of drop-in refrigerants
Eaton-Williams Service is warning about the problems caused by the shortage of recycled R22 refrigerant.
Only 200 t of refrigerant R22 was reclaimed last year, just 12% of current demand, according to the British Refrigeration Association — leading Ray Paice of Eaton-Williams to warn that unless users have built up their own bank of refrigerant, they might find that using recycled R22 is not an option. The use of Virgin HCFCs such as R22 for maintenance will be banned from the end of 2009, but recycled HCFCs are likely to become increasingly difficult to obtain, and their cost will increase significantly. Ray Paice is concerned that users may be overestimating the potential of ‘drop-in’ alternatives. He is advising customers that although alternative drop-in refrigerants are available, care needs to be taken choosing the right one for an application. What is OK for an air-conditioning system may not suit a refrigeration application. He says, ‘Many users will be under the impression that drop-ins are an instant solution and don’t realise that they cannot simply drop in an alternative refrigerant on top of the old one.’ He warns, ‘The system will, as an absolute minimum, need to be thoroughly purged of all traces of R22 and the oil replaced with a compatible alternative. As an alternative, Ray Paice suggests that it may be better to replace existing plant if significant energy savings can be made rather than incur the costs of upgrading existing plant and using a drop in. He further suggests that there may be a decline in the performance of some systems that are retrofitted with drop-in refrigerants.