A proposed addendum to safety standard ASHRAE 15 is open for public comment until midnight Eastern Standard Time on 4 September. The so-called Addendum d only covers A2L refrigerants, while similar safety measures for A3 refrigerants could enable wider use of hydrocarbons.
The current version of Addendum d focuses on A2L refrigerants in applications for human comfort. It adds specific clauses that could lead to the introduction of additional safety measures for these refrigerants. The proposed safety measures include the use of refrigerant leak detectors and the use of proper ventilation for indoor compressors. It also specifies refrigerant quantity limits above which the equipment must be stored in a machinery room or outdoors.
Similar safety measures have also been recommended by the industry for hydrocarbons; however, the addendum fails to address A3 refrigerants. As such, the hydrocarbons industry and relevant stakeholders are encouraged to submit comments to the addendum in order to draw attention to the need for standards not just for synthetic A2L refrigerants but which also take into account natural refrigerant alternatives, such as hydrocarbons.
The proposal and instructions on how to submit comments can be found here.
Major barrier for hydrocarbons expansion in the US
The national standard ASHRAE 15 prohibits the use of hydrocarbon refrigerants, except in systems with charge sizes below 150g. This is a major barrier to the introduction of equipment with higher hydrocarbon charges in the U.S. A change in ASHRAE 15 is a prerequisite for any change of UL standards or national codes. It is also a prerequisite for changing the requirements of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) programme. It should therefore be addressed as a priority.
The regulatory environment in the U.S. is changing rapidly, with a view to lowering HFC emissions and increasing the energy efficiency of HVAC&R technology. Action is taking place at federal level (SNAP Programme, DOE efficiency standards) as well as at state level (California Proposed Strategy to reduce SLCPs) and local level. Nevertheless, barriers in the existing standards – particularly for hydrocarbons – that do not take account of the latest technological developments could jeopardise these intentions.
ASHRAE 15 is revised every three years. The next version is due to be published at the end of 2016. Addendums to the standard are published every six months.