Saturday, January 17, 2009

Next Steps in the Phaseout of Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) Refrigerants‏

Environmental Protection Agency logoImage via WikipediaThe next step in the phase out of HCFCs (hydro-chloro-fluorocarbons), as outlined by the US Clean Air Act for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requires the establishment of rules for phasing out consumption of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODs). Two classes of ODs are outlined in the phase out requirements:

* Class I - including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). Except in the use of feedstock and minor essential uses, CFC has already been banned for consumption.

* Class II - focuses on incremental step-downs over the next two decades. This is the category of refrigerant gases into which HCFCs are classified.

The effort to reduce Ozone Depleting Substances began with a global treaty 21 years ago when the Montreal Protocol was ratified by more than 190 countries. It's important to note that participation globally in the reduction of ODS is critical in order to reduce overall emissions for the betterment of the environment. All countries must cooperate because once refrigerant gases, carbon emissions, or ODS reaches the atmosphere all societies will feel the effect. The impact of ozone depletion is the same worldwide no matter where the emissions originate.

The current ruling on US EPA allowances for HCFS extend through 2009, although the EPA has begun work on new rulings for 2010. The percent reduction which uses cap as baseline for the US for 2010 is 65.0. No production or importation of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b, except for servicing of equipment manufactured before January 1, 2010 is the first line compliance regulation set forth by the EPA.

Following on, by 2015, the percent reduction will be 90.0 with the compliance regulation stating: No production or importation of HCFCs, except for use as refrigerants in equipment manufactured before January 1, 2020. The percentage increases in 2020 to 99.5 with no production or importation of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b and in 2030 to 100.0 with the compliance regulation of no production or importation of HCFCs.

Using the Montreal Protocol as the baseline for percentages in reduction, it does not, however, specify the means of ODS elimination. The highest total ozone depletion in the atmosphere is the result of HCFC in greatest contribution.

Many refrigerants contain HCFCs. This will require alterations in those industries that produce products that include HCFCs, greater monitoring of refrigerant leaks, tracking of refrigerant gases, and overall attempts to reduce emissions. Regular compliance, fines, and legal action by the government will provide a direct method to enforce refrigerant reporting to federal and state agencies.

The EPA currently has some mandatory reporting of refrigerant leaks and usage. Many other states, such as California, are, and will, pass must stricter legislation requiring all AC or HVAC systems with refrigerant gas amounts over 50 pounds to be continuously monitored with annual system registration and refrigerant usage reporting. These new laws will begin to phase in by 2010 with refrigerant data collected over 2009 being the starting point.

Since the inception of the Montreal protocol, the importance of placing greater focus on protecting the ozone layer has already shown decreases in ozone depleting substances. One can only reinforce the importance of accurate record keeping and refrigerant data management as new laws specifically targeting the reduction in refrigerant gas emissions come into effect, as well as the growing, global mandatory carbon emission protocols.

Daniel Stouffer is the Product Manager for Refrigerant Tracker. This web-based software makes it easy to monitor, manage, and report refrigerant gas usage. Stay in compliance with refrigerant management laws. Learn about Verisae's Refrigerant Tracker visit --
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