The charge limit for A3 (flammable) refrigerants like propane in commercial refrigeration, which an International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) subcommittee proposed to increase from 150 g per circuit to 500 g, is now subject to a vote that will determine whether the higher charge is ultimately enacted as an international standard. 

During a meeting last October in Vladivostok, Russia, IEC subcommittee SC61C decided to advance the draft amendment of IEC 60335-2-89 standard for commercial refrigeration, prepared by Working Group WG4, to the next stage in the process (CDV – Committee Draft for Vote).

“I hope it will pass.

Marek Zgliczynski, Embraco

The CDV is currently taking place, with a deadline of July 13. It is being circulated for votes and comments in all national committees within IEC. Provided that more than two-thirds of the committee members vote in favor, the draft will go to the final vote phase (FDIS) by the end of 2018 following the SC61C committee meeting in Busan, South Korea in October 2018.

Will the higher standard be approved in the CDV process? “I’m not sure,” said Marek Zgliczynski, manager of commercial refrigeration product engineering, for compressor maker Embraco at the ATMOsphere America conference in Long Beach, Calif., this week. “I hope it will pass.”

He observed that it has taken three years to move the process of raising the charge limit to the current point. “If it fails, it will take another two-to-three years” to revisit the issue.

If it does pass the CDV process, and is finalized following the meeting in Korea, then the new standard would be enacted sometime in early 2019.

Standards from the IEC, a worldwide body that proposes rules governing how to use electrical, electronic and related technologies, influence the development of the market by providing manufacturers and customers with guidelines as to what is safe to use and buy. “To be mandatory, [the standard] has to be adopted by region,” said  Zgliczynski.

It is commonly accepted by experts that the 150 g limit does not allow manufacturers and end users to fully exploit the safe application of hydrocarbon refrigerants in this sector.

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