Japanese study shows poor environmental effect of replacing refrigerants

Destroying refrigerants and replacing them with new refrigerants has a much greater environmental impact than continuing to use the older substance, according to a study by Tokyo University. The study was based on R22, which has an ozone-depletion potential of 0.05 [compared with 0 for HCFCs] and a global-warming potential of 1700 [comparable with HCFCs] and showed that recycling had 24 times less environmental impact than destroying it and producing replacement refrigerants.

The European Partnership for Energy & the Environment (EPEE) extrapolates this finding as indicating that it is not in the interest of the environment to simply insist on replacing HFC refrigerants. EPEE further believes that the F-gas Regulation is on the right track by aiming to reduce emissions.

The Tokyo University study was presented at the 9th International JRAIA Symposium on new refrigerants and environment technology in Japan. EPEE director general Andrea Voigt told delegates, ‘For the revision of the F-gas Regulation, the European Commission keeps an eye on international developments such as the North American Proposal to gradually reduce the consumption of HFCs based on their GWP. However, nothing has been decided yet. The commission is currently analysing the F-gas Regulation in terms of its implementation throughout Europe and its capacity to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.’

Reducing emissions by controlling leakage is also a priority in Japan. Directive JRC GL-01 concerning leakage inspection and reparations takes the same approach as the European F-gas regulation.

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