Planning for the ban on R22 in building air conditioning

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1 - ACHPI 32 Planning for the ban on R22 in building air conditioning Those responsible for cooling and heating commercial properties are under increased pressure to improve energy efficiency and negotiate the ever increasing amount of legislation. Air conditioning systems in buildings installed before 2003 should be subject to re-evaluation and be part of a planned approach to replacement. Why do you need to replace existing equipment? R22 the refrigerant used in many air conditioning systems before 2003 will no longer be available for service or maintenance from the end of This is because of Environmental Legislation related to refrigerant leakage and emissions. Energy costs are ever rising and old equipment can consume up to 50% more energy than new equipment, costing clients more money and creating more carbon emissions. The equipment is likely to be approaching the end of its life, leading to potential unplanned failures leaving the building with no heating and cooling. Maintaining the current R22 equipment will be more difficult and costly, as spares parts become more scarce and expensive. Legislation such as the Building Regulations (Air Conditioning Inspections) and F Gas Regulations are being continually updated and strengthening to targeting reductions in carbon emissions from buildings. What does the ban mean? The Ozone Depleting Substances Regulation has introduced restrictions on the use of R22. Currently only recycled or reclaimed R22 can be used to service and maintain RAC systems and only until the end of December After this date it will be illegal to carry out any to service work which involves removing or returning the existing refrigerant or adding more refrigerant such as basic maintenance like fixing a leak, replacing components etc. The ban on use of all HCFC refrigerants such as R22 and R408A represents a very real business threat to any company which uses air conditioning systems. Sectors at greatest risk include the food and drink industry, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, health, retail, hospitality, finance and data-processing. Typical applications can vary widely, but examples include refrigeration systems in supermarkets, blast chillers, cold stores and process coolers and many types of building air-conditioning as well as in transport refrigeration. Many of these applications are absolutely critical to the continued operation of their owner s business. Helping clients evaluate their business strategy DEFRA (the Government Department responsible for implementing this EU legislation) suggest the following model for a successful phase-out strategy: Assess the Risk identify all systems containing HCFCs and estimate their associated business risk. Prioritise identify the most business-critical systems and address these first. But do not neglect all the other systems, these must also be managed. Determine the Phase-out Solution on a plantby-plant basis, identify the most appropriate phaseout solution. These are likely to fall within one of three main options: Replace, Convert or Leave As-

2 R22 planning (Cont) page 2 Is. Each plant must be assessed against a number of decision criteria to identify the optimum solution. These include system type, age, condition, availability and energy efficiency. Planning and Budgeting develop a Phase-out Plan, with phased implementation of the Phase-out Solutions. Depending on the size of your operation, it is unlikely to be possible or desirable to carry out all the actions at once. This will need to be done in association with your refrigeration contractor, in order to ensure their commitment. Implementation carry out the plan, with monitoring and regular review. Suggested phase-out approaches After identifying all systems using HCFC refrigerants, each one should be assessed against decision criteria and assigned one of three main Phase-out Solutions. These are: different temperatures and pressures a phenomenon known as glide. This is common with many of the other HFC refrigerants (which are widely used in direct expansion systems) and the industry has become familiar with this property. There is not, however, a recognised retrofill solution for flooded or pump-circulation systems. If you have a flooded HCFC system, then you should approach your refrigeration contactor or an independent consultant as soon as possible. Whilst a conversion may be a practical option in some cases, it must be noted that a converted plant may have less cooling capacity and / or be less efficient than the original system and in most cases would be considered only as a short term solution. Also, any conversion must be carried out by expert contractors to ensure that refrigerant leakage does not get worse after the conversion. 1. Replace Some old systems, including those that are in poor condition, inefficient or not meeting their current (or forecast) cooling load, should be replaced with new systems using a non-ods refrigerant. These can include HFCs (but these must comply with the EC F gas Regulations) or a natural refrigerant like hydrocarbons, ammonia or carbon dioxide. This option can have a number of benefits, most importantly the opportunity to significantly improve energy efficiency. It may also be possible to reduce the charge of refrigerant, either by using new critical charge systems or by employing secondary coolants. Replacement is however likely to be the most expensive option in up-front cost terms. 2. Convert For many types of RAC system, which are in good order, it may be possible to consider a Convert Solution. This covers a range of actions, from a relatively simple operation (identifying an HFC refrigerant designed as a replacement for R22 subject to system type that is compatible with the system s existing mineral oil) to a more comprehensive modification to a standard HFC refrigerant (which will require a new type of oil at least, and may require further adaptation including additional compressor and/or heat exchanger capacity). Replacement refrigerants are likely to be blended mixtures, with component gases which boil at slightly 3. Leave As-Is This is not a do nothing option - and it is only applicable if the system represents no business-critical risk. Case (a) may be appropriate if it is not practical to either Replace or Convert the system. This may be true if, say for a large petro-chemical plant, shut-downs only occur every 2 years and the refrigeration system must be kept running in the meantime. This is however a risky option, since leaks are unpredictable both in frequency and scale. Case (b) may be appropriate for example to a small non-critical split air-conditioning system in an office. This type of system is typically very reliable and may continue to operate without trouble for many years. It could be replaced relatively quickly and cheaply with a new system using different type of refrigerant. Decision criteria for existing systems The decision to either Replace, Convert or Leave a R22 plant should be based on a number of criteria. Note that there is no automatic answer and a balanced assessment must be made of each criterion for each plant, and ideally with input from knowledgeable equipment manufacturers, their distributors and/or contractors responsible for your current service and maintenance. These criteria will include: System Type does the system use direct expansion or a flooded evaporator? Some direct

3 R22 planning (Cont) page 3 expansion (or DX) systems may be suitable for conversion to an HFC replacement gas, but flooded systems need further consideration. This is an important distinction. CASE STUDY 55% energy saving reusing Pipework, control wiring, drains and electrics. Age refrigeration and air-conditioning plant over 20 years old are likely to be approaching the end of their natural life and should probably be replaced. The bulk of R22 systems will be between 10 to 20 years old and these should be assessed further. As a further guide, if a system has previously been converted from R12 or R502 to R22, then this should also be replaced and not converted a second time. Condition if a system has been well maintained and is in good condition, this would tend to be more suitable for a Convert solution. Records of refrigerant leakage are important indicators to the likely success. Meeting Current Cooling Requirements due to the rapid rate of change in many industries, many refrigeration systems are no longer operating within their original design specification. This is likely to impinge on operating performance, reliability and energy efficiency. The phase-out presents an opportunity to Replace the system (or alter it) to meet the current and forecast application requirements. Energy Efficiency capital costs of air-conditioning systems are typically around 20% of the total lifetime costs. The benefits of replacing an old system with a new energy-efficient system should be assessed. New options such as free-cooling can be specified to provide significant on-going savings. Availability system-specific characteristics must be considered to identify the correct option. Some systems are so embedded within the factory or building that replacement may be almost impossible. Alternatively, it may be possible to build a replacement plant alongside the existing R22 plant and then switch-over with the minimum or disruption. (preceding material adapted from DEFRA s F Gas Support Guidance available at Heyn Handling Solutions, based in Belfast s harbour area, had been happy with the performance of their R22 air conditioning system since it was installed in However, as the system was nearing the end of its useful operating life, the time and costs involved in maintaining it and the planned phase out of R22 refrigerant meant that an update of the air conditioning system was required. In order to minimise disruption to its business and to keep replacement costs down, the company opted to upgrade its air conditioning system using technology that meant that the existing R22 pipework, control wiring, drains and electrics could all be re-used. It also allowed for additional new air conditioning units to be installed. The contractor cleaned existing pipework during commissioning to remove the build-up of any deposits and R22 mineral oil. This eliminated the need to install new pipework, reducing costs and avoiding the associated disruption and re-decoration. Old indoor units were replaced with more sophisticated and efficient equipment, including a new branch controller and condensing unit. Internally, two-way blow cassettes were changed to four-way blow and extra cassettes installed in areas not previously served with cooling and heating. The new system now provides the building with simultaneous cooling and heating using 2 pipe heat recovery technology, which reduces the potential for leakages and helps keep installation costs down. Heyn Handling s previous system was capable of a COP of 1.74, but with the installation of the new technology this has risen to This translates to an annual 55% energy saving efficiency which means lower energy consumption, lower running costs and lower carbon emissions.

4 R22 planning (Cont) page 4 CASE STUDY Reducing CO2 output across the estate by 65.5 tonnes The new YJM systems exceed the criteria for Enhanced Capital Allowances (ECA) which mean the Logic Group could claim the tax benefit covering their capital outlay. Following the upgrade, the energy consumption for one of the office buildings dropped by 22% and the other building which included adding significantly more equipment for a changed and upgraded application, had an annual reduction of 7% energy consumption. The total estate saved 120,225kWh (or 15,630) significantly reducing their CO2 output by 65.5 tonnes. The Logic Group, based in Hampshire, specialises in the secure management of information and transactions across Europe. Both the company s two offices were running R22 refrigerant air conditioning systems installed in 1998, but the impending ban on R22 refrigerant, reduced performance, higher energy costs and increasing levels of maintenance made an upgrade of the ageing systems essential. The replacement units were selected as the most costeffective way to replace the existing R22 air conditioning with efficient R410A units. All existing power cables were re-used along with the pipework which only required minor modifications for the new connections needed for additional indoor units. The reused pipework was automatically flushed to remove residual R22 mineral oil and the new units automatically charged the systems with R410A refrigerant which removed the need to measure pipe lengths. During normal operation the replacement units regulate the pressure of the new R410A refrigerant, which negates the need for new pipework and offers significant savings on cost and time. It also reduces any disruption during installation. Centralised controllers were added to maximise energy efficiency, decrease energy usage and minimise running costs. The ability to upload and view CAD floor plans for the buildings offered enhanced control. The introduction of fresh air to the offices via a low pressure hot water AHU system provided improved air quality and a more comfortable environment, whilst occupants benefitted from replacement indoor units that were quieter than previous models. (case studies reproduced with permission of Mitsubishi Electric ) NOTE: It should be noted that equipment upgrades where original refrigeration pipework is retained should only be applied where the existing installation has been thoroughly surveyed and maintenance records checked to confirm suitability. More case studies looking at energy savings from replacing older systems with complete new systems are being prepared fornext years bulletins About ACHPI The Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Institute (ACHPI) publishes a library of up to date and practical information for improving air conditioning and heat pump efficiency. Membership helps you to: keep up to date with news and practical tips broaden your knowledge of current technology fill gaps in theory and fundamentals knowledge signpost new developments which could affect your business track changes to legislation Membership fee 30 - Join now at Published by the Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Institute, a section of the Institute of Refrigeration. With thanks to Jim Rusling of Mitsubishi Electric The Institute of Refrigeration accepts no liability for errors and omissions. IOR 2012

5 May ACHPI 32 (supplement) Planning for the ban on R22 in building air conditioning (pt2) In the November ACHPI mailing some case studies were included on conversions reusing existing pipework. Readers have requested further information on standards that cover the reuse of pipework. The guidance below is from a new international standard. Reusing pipework on a system conversion The text that follows is extracted from the draft ISO/ FDIS Refrigerating systems and heat pumps Safety and environmental requirements - Part 4: Operation, maintenance, repair and recovery which will be available for purchase later this year from shop.bsigroup.com/. This text will also appear in the European Safety Standard BS EN378 when it is reissued following its current review Planning the change of refrigerant type* Before changing the refrigerant type a plan shall be prepared. It shall include at least the following actions: a) verify that the refrigerating system and components are suitable for the refrigerant type change; b) examine all materials used in the refrigerating system to ensure they are compatible with the new refrigerant type; c) determine whether the existing lubricant type is suitable for use with the new refrigerant type; d) verify that the system allowable pressure (PS) shall not be exceeded; e) verify that the relief valve required discharge capacity is adequate for the new refrigerant type; f) verify that the motor and switchgear current ratings are adequate for the new refrigerant type; g) verify that the liquid receiver is sufficiently large for the new refrigerant charge; h) if the new refrigerant has a different classification, ensure that the consequences of the change of refrigerant classification are addressed. NOTE Guidance on equipment suitability for refrigerant type change should be sought from the original equipment manufacturer, new refrigerant manufacturer and lubricant manufacturer, as appropriate Execution of the change of refrigerant type Follow the recommendations of the equipment manufacturer, the compressor manufacturer, the refrigerant supplier or apply the following procedure in accordance with the plan developed according to 5.4.2: a) record a full set of system operating parameters to establish baseline performance; b) repair any issues identified by a); c) conduct a thorough leak check and identify any joints and seals to be replaced; d) recover the original refrigerant in accordance with 6.2; e) drain the lubricant** f) check whether the lubricant is in good condition. If not, then remove the residual lubricant from the system; g) change the joints, seals, indicating and control devices, filters, oil filters, driers and relief valves as required; h) evacuate the system to less than 132 Pa absolute pressure; i) charge with lubricant; j) charge with refrigerant; k) adjust indicating and control devices, including software modifications if required; l) amend all indications as to the refrigerant type used, including the log book and machine card; m) conduct a thorough leak check and repair any joints and seals as required; n) record a full set of system operating parameters to compare with the previous baseline performance. Institute of Refrigeration notes: * Refrigerant Type: in this context "refrigerant type" means a different fluid, even if it is the same safety group. ** Care should be taken to avoid moisture contamination as many lubricant oils are highly hygroscopic. Published by the Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Institute, a section of the Institute of Refrigeration. The Institute of Refrigeration accepts no liability for errors and omissions.

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