Refrigeration is the process of mechanically reducing the temperature of a space, product or process. To achieve this the process of refrigeration uses a heat pump of some kind and a working fluid. Most industrial refrigeration plant’s work using a heat pump operating a vapour compression cycle (Carnot cycle).
There are a number of working fluids that can be used in the refrigeration cycle. Until they were banned for their Ozone-depleting effects CFC’s or ChloroFluoroCarbons were employed as highly effective refrigerant gases.
CFCs have since been replaced by HCFCs, HFC’s and PFC’s. Whilst many are not Ozone-depleting many have global warming potentials up to a thousand times greater than CO2. In response to this refrigerants are now also classified by their CO2 equivalence. In Europe F Regulations (Fluorinated Hydrocarbons) are in place which mandates the use of Gas Detection for Refrigeration or other leak detection methods to quickly detect leaks in refrigeration systems. The F Gas regulations have been re-issued in 2015 and limit the use of HFC’s due to their capacity for global warming if released.
The new F Gas Regulations which came into force on 1st January 2015 place restrictions on the use of certain HFC refrigerants in certain applications. R404A, for example, is one of a number of refrigerants which will be most affected by the new regulations.
Typical HCFC Refrigerant Gases being phased out include: