Let’s have a break and think about different approaches, how to maintain and upgrade your fleet of refrigeration appliances. Today there are plenty of options – and opinions too – how to maintain existing chillers and freezers or what should you take into the consideration, when starting a new project. Investing into traditional equipment is a risk due to declining refrigerant quotas and changing legislation. There might be challenges to source refrigerants to older refrigerator equipment due to GWP restrictions. Therefore, reclamation, i.e. the cleaning and chemical treatment of old refrigerant, guarantees the continuation of the life cycle of your equipment for another ten years ahead. (Reclamation is also sometimes referred to as regeneration).
EU has decided to reduce greenhouse gas emissions radically in the refrigeration sector by 2030, and further regulation is under development too. In practice, this means phasing out number of HFC refrigerants, typically based on high GWP, innovations of new blends and investments into the new refrigeration technology.
The technical details and compatibility of new refrigerants leaves still questions unanswered. Direct replacements for banned high-GWP HCF’s are sparce or have other limitations. To make an investment into the completely new technology is easily an economic burden, not to forget risk of reduced payback time of existing equipment. Because environment matters, things shall be done, and it is crucial to keep priorities. Broken systems must be repaired to avoid further damages. But what would be the optimal solution when you have only limited resources available? When considering the repair and maintenance only, those HFC refrigerants which are to be disposed, and all CFCs and HCFCs are hazardous wastes, which must also be treated in an appropriate manner. It might be expensive − or maybe not when asked from Darment.
Uncertainty in refrigerant prices
EU regulations on refrigerant supply have pushed prices up sharply in recent years, although Covid-19 has had a downward effect on prices in recent months. For example, the price of R404A refrigerant, which is commonly used in commercial refrigeration equipment, increased tenfold in a couple of years. The price increase started with the R404A refrigerants commonly used in commercial refrigeration equipment and soon after that the prices of other refrigerants also started to rise. For R410A and R134a refrigerants, for example, the price increase has been almost tenfold in recent years, but this year the Covid-19 pandemic has lowered prices. Today, placing virgin R404A into the EU-market is forbidden.
The price increase is due to the EU F-Gas Regulation, which has resulted in quantitative restrictions on the sale of refrigerants throughout the EU based on quotas. Quotas for refrigerant manufacturers and importers are based on the global warming potential of refrigerants, i.e. the so-called global warming potential (GWP). As a result of these quotas, the production and import of high GWP refrigerants have decreased, which has led to higher prices and decreased availability. The higher the GWP, the less substance can be imported into the country.
The EU F-Gas Regulation means that it is strongly recommended to replace a refrigerant with high GWP with a more environmentally friendly one. An option is to use refrigerants with a lower GWP value. From global warming point of view, that is a step into the right direction. However, there are risks of other side effects, such as increased energy consumption and the chemical burden of the old refrigerant to be disposed. After all, a more environmentally friendly option might be to regenerate old refrigerants, allowing equipment to be serviced until 2030 and if damaged or wear out beyond reasonable service level, to invest into a complete new equipment with < 150 GWP refrigerants.
Many will leave decision making to the last minute. As a result of that, there is a risk of shortage in equipment and components being available at an affordable price. If the recovered refrigerants are not reclaimed but disposed of, the availability of reclaimed substances may become more difficult. Reclamation can also become congested, which can lead to delays in work and rising prices. Delaying necessary upgrades increases the risks of equipment breakage and refrigerant leaks.
Refrigerant quotas will be radically reduced from the 2015 level.
Price development of HFC refrigerants
New installations of the R404A have been prohibited, while maintenance is permitted until 1.1.2030. In practice, this means that there are currently fewer options for both new installations and maintenance use.
Schedule of F-Gas Regulation Restrictions
Darment has import quotas
Although the availability of new HFC-refrigerants is severely limited, they can be obtained from the right supplier. Darment has import quotas, so we are also able to serve our customers in sourcing new refrigerants. However, ask for a quote, as regeneration is probably the most cost-effective solution in the long run.
Draining refrigeration equipment and refrigerant recovery
Darment offers professional and ecological refrigeration refurbishment at competitive prices. We supply refrigerant tanks and offer refrigerant reclaim services. At the top of that, you will save on waste fees. After the laboratory analysis, we prepare a purchase offer for the amount of refrigerant suitable for regeneration.
Reclamation is the purification and restoration of a substance as good as a new. In refrigerant reclamation, the refrigerant is first recovered, after which a sample is sent to the laboratory for analysis. The analysis ensures that the refrigerant does not contain false components or prohibited substances that are harmful to the ozone layer mixed.
In reclamation, impurities are removed from the refrigerant mechanically by passing the refrigerant several times through filters. The missing components are then added to the refrigerant and, before being placed on the market, laboratory analysis ensures that the components are correct and in the correct proportions.
After the cleaning process, a laboratory analysis is always performed on the entire batch and, if necessary, the entire cleaning process is performed again. If necessary, a refrigerant component is added to the mixture to match the specification of the new refrigerant. Reclamation is only permitted on devices that meet the requirements of the standard.
Almost all the most common refrigerants are good for reclamation, e.g. R134a, R404A, R407C, R410A, R422D. Other substances by agreement.
The benefits of reclamation
• You’ll extend the life span of your old devices until at least 2030.
• Avoid investment fees for short-term refrigeration solutions and new refrigerants.
• You do not have to disable usable equipment unnecessarily.
• Reduces waste generation and avoids waste charges.
• Avoid reduced efficiency and increased energy consumption with short-term retrofitting refrigerants.
• Reduces the amount of new chemicals produced on the market.
Text: Darment Oy, Ari Kahrola
Offer your refrigerant to us!
If your refrigerant has a GWP of more than 2,500, ask us for an offer!
You can also send us your refrigerants with GWP less than 2,500 for analysis.
Ask for an offer:
Ari Kahrola, Product Manager
+358 50 475 5987
Markku Parviainen, Sales Director
+358 40 057 7075
Esa Sievänen, Electronic Specialist
+358 50 477 4227