Refrigerant Phase Out in Australia

Currently the most widely used refrigerants in the local commercial refrigeration sector are Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which have zero Ozone-Depletion Potential (zero-ODP).

However, even though HFCs have a zero-ODP, in most cases they have a high Global Warming Potential (high-GWP). How to lower the index of ODP and GWP at the same time is a hot topic in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry and the source of much consideration and frustration to contractors and end users alike.

Due to the high-GWP of HFCs, some countries have made a concerted effort to phase them out and switch to alternatives that offer much lower GWP numbers.

Refrigerants such as Ammonia, Hydrocarbons (HCs), Hydro-Fluoro-Olefin (HFO) or Carbon Dioxide (CO2), which are considered to have a promising future with zero-ODP and low-GWP. HFCs have been proposed to phase out in Australia, via a sliding scale of reduced import quotas, to date there is yet no “best” replacement refrigerant, some of the new wave of synthetic refrigerants are still on trial. Recent and future legislation will probably encourage a greater use of natural refrigerants.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty as to what will happen long term, the consensus is to expect the use of natural refrigerants and other low GWP refrigerants to grow with intermediate solutions emerging like for instance R407A/F or R449A/B or R452A  as substitutions for R404A; although these solutions are intermediate they are likely to be used for some years into the future.What is certain, however, is the reduced availability and eventually increasing price of traditional HFCs due to the quotas will necessitate changes in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry in Australia.

What does this mean for the end user? we believe that ongoing preventative maintenance to your current equipment in conjunction with concerted efforts to detect and resolve any refrigerant leaks to negate the need for gas top-ups is the best way forward. MNK Technical Services are at the forefront of best industry practices for refrigerant leak testing, refrigerant leak detection, and the repair of refrigerant leaks in Melbourne.

We use a variety of methods, direct methods such as the latest electronic leak detection equipment, UV dye systems, and the forever trusted “soapy water” or indirect methods such as pressure testing with nitrogen, hydrogen trace gas or static and dynamic vacuum tests.

Let MNK keep you informed on current and future industry practice and compliance requirements for your commercial refrigeration systems.