The introduction of new F-Gas regulations impacting the use and maintenance of refrigeration equipment is now a matter of weeks away.
The new rules will encourage manufacturers to reduce the use of the most damaging gases in stepped phases between 2015 and 2030.
It will also reinforce requirements for operators and companies that undertake maintenance work of refrigeration equipment to take steps to prevent F-gas leaking and repair leaks as soon as possible.
Regulations were introduced in 2007 to limit the damage caused by the replacement F-gas refrigerants and these measures are to be updated with the implementation of (EC) 517/2014 which come into effect from 1st January 2015.
Steve James, head of First Choice Catering Spares’ refrigeration division, says catering engineers will need to adapt to the new rules, especially when it comes to testing.
He said: “Current requirements for testing are based on the weight of HFCs used in the appliance. The revised regulations take the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of a gas into account and state the requirements for testing in CO2 equivalent.”
The regulations for testing refrigeration equipment designed for use in commercial premises will change to:
– For equipment that contains less than 5 tonnes of CO2 equivalent there is no requirement for testing. In the case of R404 refrigerant this is equivalent to 1.3kg. However the current exemption for testing of equipment with less than 3kg (6kg for hermetic systems) will be extended until 1st January 2017.
– For equipment that contains between 5 to 50 tonnes of CO2 equivalent the equipment should be tested for leakage every 12 months, or if a leakage detection system is installed, every 24 months. With R404 refrigerant this equates to 1.3kg to 13kg.
– For equipment that contains between 50 to 500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent the equipment should be tested for leakage at least every 6 months, or if a leakage detection system is installed, every 12 months. With R404 refrigerant this equates to 13kg to 130kg.
– For equipment that contains above 500 tonnes of CO2 equivalent the equipment should have a leakage detection system installed and be tested for leakage at least every 6 months. With R404 refrigerant this equates to more than 130kg.
– From 1st January 2020 the use of F-gases with a GWP of more than 2500 for service will be prohibited for systems which contain more than 40 tonnes CO2 equivalent. This will affect R404A systems.
James noted that the current F-gas qualifications such as City and Guilds 2079-11 or CITB are still the acceptable qualifications and the company registration requirements remain unchanged.
“CITB training is for a specified period and after expiry further training incorporating new F-Gas regulation changes will be required.”
As F-gases begin to disappear they will be replaced by others. C urrently Hydrocarbons R290 & R600 are the most popular choices and these require handling certificates, he said.
Leakage tests should include joints, seals, connections to safety or operational devices, parts of a system subject to vibration, valves and their stems.
While the operator of the equipment is required to maintain records of the tests, F-gas regulations define the operator as ‘the natural or legal person exercising actual power over the technical functioning of the equipment and systems covered by the regulations’.
“This means the operator is not necessarily the owner and if the equipment is covered by a service contract the onus falls on the service company to maintain the records,” says James.
Records of tests should be kept on site and include:
– Identity of each piece of equipment.
– Quantity and type of F-gas in each item.
– Quantity of F-gas added.
– Quantity of refrigerant recovered during servicing. maintenance and disposal.
– Name of the company or technician that carried out the service work.
– Dates and results of leak detection system checks.
– Name, address and telephone number of the operator.