The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have been evaluating energy use and environmental trends for many years. Although legislative organization began nearly a dozen years ago, trends have largely remained consistent. R-22, or HCFC-22, along with other refrigerants, is being phased out because of its impact on the environment, contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer.
Shortly after the current president took office in 2017, the DOE established new energy conservation standards for walk-in coolers and freezers. Around the same time, the EPA listed several refrigerants as acceptable in certain applications, refrigerants with medium Global Warming Potential (GWP) values. The GWP was developed so that various gases could be compared to determine their impact on global warming. Understandably, the DOE and EPA want to reduce the negative impact of refrigerants on the environment to the greatest extent possible.
SNAP Determination 33 outlines the accepted refrigerants which include R-134A, R-407H, R-442A, R-448A, R-449A, R-449B, R-452A, R-452C, R-453A, R-458A and R-513A. All of these refrigerants have a medium GWP value (630-2,220) and are classified as A1 (non-flammable, non-toxic) according to American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) standards, and are suitable for a wide range of end uses.
As of January 1, 2020, several refrigerants could be de-listed in states that would adopt EPA SNAP 20, such as California through CARB. This could also occur in additional states that have Governors who are within the U.S Climate Alliance, (at least according to EPA SNAP 20* for stand-alone medium temp refrigeration applications greater than >2,200 BTUH and stand-alone low temp). These refrigerants include R-134A, R-404A, R-407A/F/C, R-410A and R-507A. Acceptable refrigerants to replace those de-listed include R-290, R-600A, R-450A, R-513A, R-744 for stand-alone medium temp >2,200 BTUH, and for stand-alone low temp R-290, R-134A, R-450A, R-448A, R-449A/B, R-513A, R-600A and R-744.
With all of the information available online regarding commercial refrigeration and EPA/DOE refrigerant regulations, it can be confusing, to say the least. Our goal is to help you navigate through the process as easily as possible, armed with the information you need to ensure compliance by critical dates.
Heatcraft provides information intended to enlighten manufacturers, wholesalers, end-users, contractors and OEMs in regards to EPA and DOE regulatory changes and compliance for the commercial refrigeration industry. Send questions regarding DOE to [email protected]
*SNAP 20 - On August 8, 2017, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit issued an opinion that SNAP Rule 20 was not legally authorized, subsequently issuing an order mandating the EPA to withdraw the rule “to the extent it requires manufacturers to replace HFCs with a substitute substance.” The losing parties appealed, requesting the entire bench of judges (“en banc”) of the D.C. Circuit review the case. While this appeal was pending, the August 8 order vacating SNAP Rule 20 was held in abeyance, i.e. it existed with no legal effect, until the ten judges of the D.C. Circuit decided whether to reconsider the case. On January 26, 2018, the D.C. Circuit decided not to take up the appeal.