Role of standards in the HCFC phase-out discussed at UNEP webinar

By Ginta Vanaga, Jul 08, 2013, 13:00 5 minute reading

On 4 July 2013, UNEP OzonAction organised its first webinar on standards for the adoption of HCFC alternatives. The webinar brought together representatives from UNEP, the Australian Standards Committee, the American University of Beirut and the Chinese Government to discuss the current state of available standards in the RAC sector, particularly regarding energy efficient and climate friendly alternatives to ozone depleting substances.

The webinar “Standards for the Adoption of HCFC Alternatives” was the first in a series of webinars organised by UNEP OzonAction aimed at discussing the current status of available standards in the RAC sector and providing a platform for dialogue on the ways in which barriers to the adoption of climate-friendly and energy efficient alternatives can be overcome.

As a great number of countries implementing the national HCFC Phase-out Management Plans (HPMPs) under the Montreal Protocol face a growing demand for the introduction and implemention of regulatory mechanisms for low-Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants, the question of standards for HCFC alternatives becomes more important. Therefore, the objective of this first UNEP webinar was to promote the importance of standards in the refrigeration and foam sectors in support of the HCFC phase-out management.

Roles of National Ozone Officers in addressing the subject of Standards for the Adoption of HCFC Alternatives, Ms. Artie Dubrie, Regional Network Coordinator for the Pacific islands, UNEP Regional Office for Asia Pacific

To highlight the importance of standards for low-GWP alternatives, Ms. Dubrie briefly presented the initial results of an earlier survey of the Asian and Pacific Region, in which only 1 out of 22 countries said that there were sufficient national and international rules in place concerning the use of HCFC alternatives. A significant portion of respondents (39%) said that there were no rules in their respective countries that would guide the use of low-GWP alternatives.

Ms. Dubrie observed that awareness is one of the challenges many countries face in the process of phasing out HCFCs. Often, consumers are not aware of the technologies sold in their local market and this is where National Ozone Officers (NOOs) can play an important role. “We are seeing already today that hydrocarbon refrigerants are coming to the market, but the public is not aware of that,” Dubrie said.

Harmonisation and Nationalisation of Standards, Mr. Kevin Lee, Global Technical Manager for Heatcraft Worldwide Refrigeration and Chairman of Australian Standards Committee ME-006

In the past, refrigerant standards have purely focused on the safety aspect; however, now standards have to address also environmental issues and energy efficiency. According to Mr. Lee, the challenge we are facing today is to find the right balance between safety and environment.

HCFC alternatives with low-GWP have brought new challenges such as flammability issue for hydrocarbons (HC), high pressure for CO2 systems or toxicity for ammonia and chemical low-GWP substances to the table he explained. “Standards are particularly important to address these issues for low-GWP alternatives,” said Mr. Lee, explaining that standards will, therefore, get more complex.

Mr. Lee explained that ISO develops so-called horizontal standards – general requirements that go across many groups of refrigerants, while product specific standards/vertical standards are developed by IEC. Furthermore, the different standards available today tend to form a certain hierarchy among themselves. For instance, ARI 700 (Specification for Fluorocarbon Refrigerants) and ISO 817 (Refrigerants Designation System) standards cover basic refrigerant safety data and are used as a basis for:
  • ISO 5149 that refers to general and overall system safety and environmental aspects;
  • IEC 60335 series that covers product specific safety issues. This standard also refers to ISO 5149 for general refrigeration safety and is often mandatory in national standards.
Nevertheless, as pointed out by Mr. Lee in his presentation, international standards that enable global harmonisation of rules are critical to ensure that standards do not become trade barriers.

New Progress on the Standards Adopting Low-GWP/Flammable Refrigerants, Mr. Zhong Zhifeng, Refrigeration Team Leader of Division III, Foreign Economic Cooperation Office, Ministry of Environmental Protection, China

China has agreed to reduce its consumption of HCFCs in the room air-conditioning (A/C) sector and industrial & commercial refrigeration sector by 10% by 2015. With regards to room A/C, Mr. Zhifeng explained that production safety and design requirements in China are set by GB 4706.32 standard, which entered into force on 1 May 2013 and is a translated version of the IEC 60335-2-40. There are separate energy efficiency standards such as GB 12021 and GB 21455 irrespective of the type of refrigerant used in the application.

In the industrial and commercial refrigeration sector, manufacturers have to comply with the GB 9237 standard, which covers production safety, design, storage, transportation, installation and maintenance of the equipment. Mr. Zhifeng, however, explained that this standard fails to clearly address flammable refrigerants and this is an area China will have to work on.

A Road Map for the Adoption of HCFC Alternatives in RAC, Mr. Samir R. Traboulsi, Senior lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture of the American University of Beirut, Chairman and General Manager of Thermotrade SAL and the Managing Director of RANEC

Mr. Traboulsi acknowledged that standards for the adoption of HCFC alternatives are a very important topic in many developing countries. As the former Director of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers), Mr. Traboulsi introduced the ASHRAE Position Statements on Refrigerants, namely the one on Natural Refrigerants that expires in 2014. He also explained the ASHRAE Standards such as Standard 15-2010 that deals with refrigeration safety standards and ASHRAE Standard 34-2010, which focuses on designation and safety classification of refrigerants.

International standards vs. national standards

During a lively Q&A session at the end of the webinar, participants were asked if international standards such as ISO or IEC should be preferred over the national standards to avoid unnecessary trade barriers. Mr. Lee acknowledged that current ISO standards do not take into account particular climate issues, such as very high ambient temperatures, but emphasised that eventually countries should be moving towards international standards. Mr. Traboulsi and Mr. Zhifeng shared the view that international standards could be used as a reference point, but each country should modify the standard based on its needs.

What to expect in next webinars on standards?

UNEP OzonAction is planning to host 6 more webinars on standards that will cover the different roles of national and international bodies/institutions in the standards setting process, standards in the RAC manufacturing sectors, standards for the RAC technology purchasers and servicing sectors, as well as legislation, capacity building approaches and enforcement requirements for (refrigerant) standards.

About UNEP OzonAction

The UNEP OzonAction Branch assists developing countries and economies in transition in achieving and sustaining compliance with the Montreal Protocol on the Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The programme’s main objective is to enable countries to make informed decisions about alternative technologies and ozone-friendly policies.


By Ginta Vanaga

Jul 08, 2013, 13:00

Related stories

Sign up to our Newsletter

Fill in the details below