YORK Successfully Transitions Out of HCFC-123 Refrigerant in Centrifugal Chillers

11/16/2004 |

YORK, PA – Citing the globally mandated transition away from ozone-depleting refrigerants, York International Corp. (NYSE: YRK) announced it will stop offering new chillers using HCFC-123 refrigerant beginning Nov. 15, 2004. 

YORK Americas President Iain Campbell noted that HCFC-123, an ozone-depleting chemical, is designated by the Montreal Protocol and the U.S. Clean Air Act as a transitional refrigerant. It is to be used for only a limited time, to enable manufacturers to develop centrifugal chillers utilizing refrigerants with zero ozone-depletion potential (ODP). “The legislated phase-out of HCFC refrigerants began in 2004,” said Campbell, “and the demand for HCFC-123 chillers is falling globally. YORK believes the time has come to complete the transition by ceasing to offer new HCFC-123 chillers. Today, we have a full line of zero-ODP chillers utilizing HFC refrigerants, which have no phase-out schedule.”

“Our HCFC-123 chiller is an excellent product. However, given that centrifugal chillers have a lifespan of 25 years or more, YORK no longer considers it prudent to recommend customers purchase a new centrifugal chiller using a refrigerant that is subject to a globally mandated phase-out schedule – not if there are better alternatives, and we have better alternatives.”

During the transition period, Campbell noted, YORK pursued aggressive product-development programs for zero-ODP chillers. “As a result, today YORK has a full portfolio of HFC centrifugal chillers, which are economically priced and which meet or exceed energy-code requirements, both present and for the foreseeable future. An additional benefit is that they can contribute one point toward certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program. For these reasons, YORK recommends that its customers continue transitioning to zero-ODP, high-efficiency, HFC centrifugal chillers,” Campbell stated.

YORK will continue to actively support all brands of installed CFC and HCFC chillers with maintenance, parts, enhancements, and service. “Further, if a customer has already placed an order for a YORK HCFC-123 chiller, there is no reason to change that decision. YORK’s current action is only to stop offering new HCFC-123 chillers. All orders already received will be executed normally,” Campbell noted.

Campbell laid out the following background points regarding YORK’s decision:

  • HCFC-123 refrigerant was developed as a transitional replacement for CFC-11 refrigerant.
    • CFC-11 was the most popular refrigerant for centrifugal chillers.
    • However, it has a high ODP.
  • HCFC-123 refrigerant was selected as a transitional replacement for several reasons.
    • Its ODP is lower than that of CFC-11 refrigerant.
    • It could be retrofitted into existing CFC-11 chillers.
    • It was the only economically and technically viable CFC-11 replacement available at the time.
  • YORK believes HCFC-123 has been a good transitional refrigerant.
    • While developing zero-ODP chillers, YORK used HCFC-123 to help speed the transition away from high-ODP, CFC-11 refrigerant.
    • In fact, YORK shipped the first HCFC-123 chiller. 
  • Although HCFC refrigerants have lower ODPs than CFC refrigerants, they still deplete the earth's ozone layer.
  • As a result, the Montreal Protocol (ratified by almost 190 nations) designated HCFCs as one of the ozone-depleting substances which are subject to the following schedule of production reductions for developed countries:
    • 1/1/04: 35% reduction.
    • 1/1/10: 65% reduction.
    • 1/1/15: 90% reduction.
    • 1/1/20: 99.5% reduction, and HCFC-123 no longer permitted in new chillers.
    • 1/1/30: 100% reduction.
  • Developing countries (Article 5 signatories) have a 10-year extension of the above phase-out schedule. In those countries, excluding centrifugal chillers, YORK will continue to support the use of a range of refrigerants for new equipment, as appropriate for the market and application, in full compliance with all laws and regulations laid down by governments and international treaties.

Customers with questions about YORK chillers should contact their nearest YORK office or call (800) 861-1001. A list of offices and phone numbers is available on the YORK website at www.york.com. Look for the global directory of YORK offices.

YORK Answers Questions About its Transition Away From HCFC-123 Refrigerant

Q: Why is YORK ceasing to submit new offers for its HCFC-123 chiller line on Nov. 15, 2004?

A: The legislated phase-out of HCFC refrigerants began in 2004 and the demand for HCFC-123 chillers is falling globally. Therefore, YORK believes the time has come to complete the transition by ceasing to offer new HCFC-123 chillers. Given that centrifugal chillers have a lifespan of 25 years or more, we no longer consider it prudent to recommend customers purchase a new centrifugal chiller using a refrigerant that is subject to a globally mandated phase-out schedule – not if there are better alternatives, and we have better alternatives. We offer a full line of zero-ODP chillers utilizing HFC refrigerants, which have no phase-out schedule.

Q: Won’t new HCFC-123 refrigerant be available until 2030?

A: Yes, but in much reduced quantities. The Montreal Protocol (ratified by almost 190 nations) designated HCFC refrigerants as ozone-depleting substances. Beginning in 2004, they are subject to the following schedule of production reductions:

  • 1/1/2004: 35% reduction.
  • 1/1/2010: 65% reduction.
  • 1/1/2015: 90% reduction.
  • 1/1/2020: 99.5% reduction, and HCFC-123 no longer permitted in new chillers.
  • 1/1/2030: 100% reduction.

Q: CFC-11 is no longer produced, but there is plenty of recycled CFC-11 available. Won’t the same thing happen with HCFC-123?

A:  Unlikely, because there are significant differences between the inventory of the two refrigerants. CFC-11 was produced for 40 years, from the 1950s to the1990s, and it was used in 85 percent of all centrifugal chillers during that time. So, there was a huge and aging inventory of chillers from which the CFC-11 refrigerant was available for recycling.

By contrast, HCFC-123 has been a mainstream refrigerant only since the mid-1990s, and was used in less than 40 percent of all centrifugal chillers during that time. So, the installed inventory is relatively young and small.

By the time 2015 and 2020 approach, only a very small population of HCFC-123 chillers will be ready for decommissioning, resulting in a much smaller refrigerant inventory available for recycling than what we experienced with CFC-11.

Q: If HCFC-123 has been such a good transitional refrigerant, might not the Montreal Protocol be amended to extend its phase-out schedule?

A: Absolutely not. The Montreal Protocol was carefully developed by the international scientific community, and it is based on scientific data that has withstood significant scrutiny. The science of the ozone layer has not changed.

In order to change the HCFC-123 phase-out schedule, a party to the Montreal Protocol would have to propose a treaty amendment based on new scientific findings that justified the proposal. Such an amendment would not become law unless a two-thirds majority of the developing-country parties and half of the developed-country parties voted to approve the treaty amendment.

Thus far, the only proposals to revise the Montreal Protocol’s HCFC phase-out schedule have been to accelerate the phase-out schedule rather than to extend it. In fact, a number of countries have already banned HCFC-123 refrigerant.

Q: If the Montreal Protocol won’t be amended, couldn’t the U.S. extend the phase-out schedule on its own?

A: No, the U.S. Clean Air Act has the same HCFC-123 phase-out schedule as the Montreal Protocol. In addition, the Act says that if one of the phase-out schedules is modified, the U.S. must follow the more aggressive of the schedules. So for the U.S. to extend the phase-out schedule, both the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act would have to be amended.

Q: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued awards to HCFC-123 chiller installations. Wouldn’t they continue to support HCFC-123 refrigerant?

A: One of the main reasons that low-ODP, HCFC-123 was designated as a transitional refrigerant was to eliminate the production and continued use of chillers utilizing high-ODP, CFC-11 refrigerant. The EPA has presented awards to HCFC-123 chiller installations for serving their intended purpose: speeding the transition away from CFC-11 refrigerant.

However, now that zero-ODP, HFC-134a chillers are widely available, and offering the same performance and economy as HCFC-123 chillers, we expect that the EPA will support the environmental law of the land, which is to phase out HCFC-123 refrigerant.

Q: Doesn’t HCFC-123 refrigerant have the best environmental balance of ozone-depletion potential (ODP), global-warming potential (GWP), and life-cycle climate performance (LCCP)?

A: The HCFC-123 phase-out schedule is not based on an “environmental balance” concept. It is based on control of ozone-depleting substances, and HCFC-123 is an ozone-depleter. The science behind ozone depletion is well-understood, and is the accepted basis for the Montreal Protocol and the Clean Air Act.

Q: Doesn’t HCFC-123 refrigerant have a lower GWP than HFC-134a refrigerant?

A: That’s true, but the phase-out schedule of HCFC refrigerants is not based on GWP. It is based on control of ozone-depleting substances, and HCFC-123 is an ozone-depleter.

Q: If GWP or LCCP legislation is enacted, won’t the efficiency of HCFC-123 refrigerant lead to its phase-out schedule being extended or postponed?

A: No, because zero-ODP, HFC-134a chillers, marketed by a number of manufacturers, meet or exceed all current energy standards and all those anticipated in the foreseeable future. With such achievements in place, there would be no point in delaying a phase-out schedule ratified by nearly 190 countries.

Q: Are there still HCFC-123 chillers available in the marketplace?

A: Yes, they are still available in the United States, because one of the four major chiller manufacturers is still offering HCFC-123 chillers. But this same manufacturer is making significant research and production investments in HFC-134a chillers globally – to meet the market demand for zero-ODP chillers.

Q: Speaking of other countries, what is their position on HCFC-123 refrigerant?

A: Worldwide, there is strong movement away from HCFC-123 and toward HFC-134a for centrifugal chillers. In Europe, HCFC-123 is a banned substance. In China in 2003, there were 300-percent more HFC-134a chillers sold than HCFC-123 chillers.

Q: If HCFC refrigerants are being phased out, why is YORK still offering chillers charged with HCFC-22 refrigerant?

A: A comparison of HCFC-22 and HCFC-123 refrigerants isn’t valid because the market situation and market drivers are different. Some of our smaller chillers are still offered with HCFC-22 refrigerant. Because those chillers have a shorter life expectancy than centrifugal chillers, they have less risk of a refrigerant shortage in their lifetime.

Additionally, HCFC-22 refrigerant has the largest installed base in the field, most of which is contained in shorter-life units. The decommissioning of these units will ensure a large flow of recycled HCFC-22 refrigerant for decades.

However, if customers are interested, we also offer our small-tonnage chillers with zero-ODP, HFC refrigerants. We are committed to eliminating HCFC refrigerants and we envision, at some point in the future, making an HCFC-22 chiller announcement similar to the one we are making now regarding HCFC-123 chillers. However, the market situation does not require that decision now.

Q: What is YORK’s position on servicing HCFC-123 chillers?

A: YORK will continue to maintain and service all brands of chillers, using all refrigerants: CFC, HCFC, HFC, and natural. Specifically, parts and enhancements for YORK-brand HCFC-123 chillers will be available throughout the chiller’s life. This is in keeping with our commitment to customers throughout the lifecycle of their products. For example, we are still servicing some YORK equipment that is over 50 years old.

Q: What is YORK’s position on retrofitting existing CFC-11 chillers to HCFC-123 refrigerant?

A: Because of the phase-out of HCFC-123 refrigerant, YORK believes that most existing CFC-11 chillers are not best served with a retrofit, but rather by replacement with an HFC-134a chiller. Due to improvements in product design, efficiencies, and leak-tight construction – as well as being a pro-active response to environmental concerns – HFC-134a technology is a better alternative.

Nevertheless, we recognize that special situations may exist where investing in the retrofit of a CFC-11 chiller to HCFC-123 refrigerant is justified in the customer’s eyes. In such cases, we will support the customer, to the best of our ability, in performance of the retrofit.


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