07/01/2008

Preparing for the HCFC Phase-Out

For those with chillers utilizing older HCFCs, it's time to make plans to meet new guidelines

 

At a Glance: The HCFC Accelerated Phase-Out
The 191 Montreal Protocol Parties have agreed that:

  • Developing countries will push forward setting their baseline for production and consumption of HCFCs from 2015 to 2009-2010.
  • Developing countries will freeze production and consumption of HCFCs in 2013 instead of 2016.
  • Developed countries will phase out production of HCFCs by 2020, allowing for a service tail from 2020-2030 to meet installed-equipment needs.
  • Developed countries will reduce HCFC consumption by 75 percent in 2010 and 90 percent in 2015 with a phase-out in 2020, allowing for a service tail from 2020-2030.
  • Developing countries will reduce HCFC production and consumption by 10 percent in 2015, 35 percent in 2020, and 67.5 percent in 2025 with a phase-out in 2030, allowing for a service tail from 2030-2040.

SOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

The Montreal Protocol, an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer, was amended last fall to accelerate the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). The refrigerants used in chillers, commonly referred to as HCFC-123 and HCFC-22, were targeted because they contain chlorine and have ozone-depletion potential (ODP).

In the new schedule for developed countries, HCFC-22 will be phased out of new equipment starting in 2010 and won't be produced or exported as of 2020 (with a 0.5-percent service tail to 2030). HCFC-123 will be phased out in 2020 (with a 0.5-percent service tail), but won't be produced or exported as of 2030. The biggest recent change to this schedule is a 2015 review to determine if the service tails are necessary after 2020. If the timeline is shortened, all equipment using HCFC refrigerants will rely on reclaimed refrigerant as of 2020.

For those with recently manufactured equipment, this acceleration will be of little concern: Today's alternative hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) refrigerants—HFC-134a, HFC-410A, and HFC-407C—lack chlorine atoms, have ODPs of zero, and are not targeted by the Montreal Protocol. More than 80 percent of centrifugal chillers currently manufactured employ HFC-134a, and most manufacturers have stopped producing HCFC-dependent equipment.

But, for those with chillers utilizing older HCFCs, it's time to make plans to meet the new guidelines. Retrofitting older machines to accept HFCs probably isn't realistic. HCFC-22 machines cannot accept HFC-410A because the required operating pressure differences are simply too great. HCFC-22 equipment could be retrofitted to accept HFC-407C, but only with losses of cooling capacity and efficiency, and with increased maintenance costs. And, although retrofitting HCFC-123 chillers to accept HFC refrigerants may technically be possible, doing so would be questionable in terms of practicality, safety, and economic feasibility due to opposing pressures and volumetric efficiencies.

The question then becomes one of replacement—and whether to wait until phase-out dates hit or to replace machinery ahead of schedule.


COURTESY OF MCQUAY INTL.

"Anyone making an equipment revision must consider the availability of refrigerants over the equipment's life," says Roy Hubbard, senior marketing manager for Milwaukee, WI-based Johnson Controls Inc. "With equipment life around 30 years, someone with HCFC machinery could be in jeopardy when refrigerant availability becomes increasingly curtailed. Consider cost, too. Newer machines are more efficient and cost less to maintain. You'll get more return on your investment."

Daryl Showalter, director of marketing for Minneapolis-based McQuay Intl., agrees, saying, "If I had a 10-year-old centrifugal using HCFC refrigerant, I'd consider replacing it now—you'll avoid future high prices on reclaimed refrigerants as supply dwindles, and full-load energy efficiencies have increased in the past 10 years by 10 to 15 percent while part-load efficiencies have increased by 25 to 30 percent. Payback averages 3 years or less."

"There are good reasons to eliminate reliance on these refrigerants ahead of schedule," says Mike Opitz, director of LEED implementation for the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council. "A new, efficient, low-maintenance system saves energy and money, and may save labor and repair costs. Building owners who wait until they have to upgrade are barely complying with federal regulations; those who do it early for sound business reasons are considered high performance."

Stephanie J. Oppenheimer, former assistant vice president of communications at BOMA Intl., is principal at Skylite Communications, based in Falls Church, VA.

 

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When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.

Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.


Mitsubishi Electric’s H2i R2-Series heat pumps provide 100% heating capacity down to 0° F and simultaneous heating and cooling down to -4° F delivering year-round comfort, regardless of climate zone.

 
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