Synthetic refrigerants

Ammonia package for Scantec Australia.

Due to the phasing out of R22 world wide, the introduction of a Carbon Tax in Australia, and increasing legislation relating to the use of hydroflourocarbons (HFCs), has resulted in a movement towards natural fluids for industrial refrigeration systems.

Australia continues to lead the way in the phasing out of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) refrigerants, meeting or exceeding its phase‐out obligations under the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol is an agreement established in 1987 with the specific purpose of phasing‐out any substances deemed to be contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer. This agreement is implemented in Australia under the Ozone Protection and Synthetic Greenhouse Gas Management Act 1989.

Artificial refrigerants have long been identified for their ozone depletion potential and global warming potential. The more harmful CFC’s, including R11 and R12, are now virtually phased out and refrigerant stockpiles are nearly exhausted. HCFC’s, the most prevalent of which is R22, are likely to be effectively phased out in Australia by 2016.

In addition to R22, other HCFC’s to be phased out include R408A, R409A and R123. As of 1 July 2010 Australia has also banned the importation of most air‐conditioning equipment pre‐charged with HCFC refrigerant.

Some of the issue that will need to be faced by plant and building owners by the phase out of R22 include:

  • Installation of new R22 equipment
  • Parts and service support for R22 equipment
  • Availability and price of R22 to support installed equipment
  • R22 equipment conversions to alternative refrigerants
  • R22 equipment retirement and replacement

Although R22 equipment will probably be available for a few more years and will be supported with parts and service expertise for some time to come, it is not recommended that new R22 equipment be installed.

It is expected that R22 will become increasingly difficult and costly to source. In addition to this, it is likely that its price would increase significantly with the introduction of an emissions trading scheme.