The EPA regulations on the manufacture of HCFC-22 equipment may have been last year's story, but the significance of caps on R-22 availability for servicing existing HVACR systems is just beginning. Availability of virgin R-22 was cut 10 percent at the beginning of this year, with more cuts ahead to eventually phase out the chlorine-containing refrigerant due to its potential impact on the earth's ozone layer.
New R-22 supplies will be cut in the next few years until they are at 10 percent of the cap by 2015.
The dwindling supply means R-22 recovery during servicing is more important than ever. Businesses with equipment that contains R-22 should view it as an asset that should be recovered to service their other systems, or made available to others. Equipment should be inspected regularly and any leaks repaired immediately to protect system efficiency, as well as the environment.
The only way to eliminate concerns over the availability, cost and ozone-depleting potential of R-22 is to replace aging equipment with new systems that don't use the HCFC refrigerant. Opting for systems that use refrigerant with zero Ozone Depleting Potential (ODP) and minimal Global Warming Potential (GWP) – such as glycol or CO2 – can help businesses reduce servicing issues and even cut their energy costs. Heatcraft Refrigeration offers secondary loop unit coolers under the E Solutions™ brand.
For older equipment, the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute published guidelines last fall that offer best practices for refrigerant recovery and recycling of DOT-39 nonrefillable cylinders. The AHRI Guideline Q-2010 was developed to reduce emissions of greenhouse and ozone-depleting gases from residual refrigerant that remains in disposable cylinders after their use.