Hydrocarbon Refrigerants – the continuing saga

Fox’s Tales
by Graeme Fox
Graeme Fox is an RAC contractor based in Dundee. He is a director at AREA (Air Conditioning & Refrigeration European Contractors’ Association) and a member of the Institute of Refrigeration.

06/10/2009 09:25:01
What an interesting month its been. A number of people posted comments after my last blog – many of which followed the usual line these days: if you can’t argue the case, just smear the name!

Some interesting technical points were made, but there are two things I’d like to say on the issue of the exploding fridges before I move on.

Firstly, despite the comments left by those who claim the small charge cannot possibly result in this damage – the fact remains that a very small leak has resulted in ignition in the past. This fact has been accepted by the manufacturers, hence the imminent tightening of the EN378 regulation. Interesting that those who argue against the facts refuse to leave their names or organisation names on the site. If you are so sure of the facts why hide behind a pseudonym? It only makes me suspicious that those who are arguing don’t know the facts, only the spin.

Secondly, for anyone who attended the recent Cooling Industry awards it was obvious to all present how the industry feels about hydrocarbon refrigerants becoming the norm. When reference was made by some to the exploding fridge story highlighted here, there was a considerable swell of approval for raising the issue and getting the real arguments discussed for a change.

While wholesale changeover to hydrocarbons would conveniently tick a box and meet one target for our political classes, they would be left with a severe energy shortage crisis due to the lower efficiencies with split system air conditioners running on hydrocarbons compared with HFCs.

All of this is, of course, entirely avoidable if industry is given the power by government to properly and effectively police the F Gas Regulation. The argument is simple.

HFCs account for around 1.5% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
Of that, car ac account for around 70%. Therefore, static ACR accounts for around 0.5%.

A properly implemented F Gas Regulation would result in a drop in emissions to around 10% that of present levels (based on the results of similar legislation abroad). Therefore, once the car ac industry has dealt with their phase out which is already agreed, the static acr industry will account for approximately 0.05% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The message is clear: we’re not the ones who are damaging the planet.
Concentrate on energy efficiency and we’ll see real results in the carbon emissions reduction programme.

Finally, a message to John Wallis who seemed to enjoy referring to my blog as a fairy tale. There is no definitive answer to your question. Different manufacturers and different models of domestic fridge would hold varying amounts of hydrocarbon refrigerants. However, it is safe to say between 25 and 150 grammes. I know some readers find it incredulous that such a small amount of gas can cause this damage, but clearly it is possible.

Some industry figures have come out pointing out the small number of incidents compared to the vast numbers of fridges sold. This is true. But one incident is too many isn’t it? Particularly when there is the real possibility of fatality.

And all we’ve seen in answer to the recent spate of bad publicity has been technical speak, which helps to confuse the political classes, insinuating this sort of thing cannot happen.

Clearly it can and has!

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  1. It is a belt driven pump that is fastened to the engine. Refrigerants Wholesale

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