Chemours is to double the price of high GWP refrigerants R404A and R507 from next month as the European F-gas phase-down really begins to bite.
With refrigerant manufacturers, suppliers and industry groups repeatedly warning of price increases and shortages of high GWP refrigerants, this latest unprecedented increase is the third by Chemours in the last three months and will take effect from July 1.
Other manufacturers are likely to follow suit. In April, Chemours’ main competitor Honeywell announced that it would cease all sales of R404A and R507 in Europe from next year.
Prices of all medium and high GWP refrigerants from all manufacturers and suppliers have risen dramatically this year in anticipation of the 37% cut in CO2e required next year under the European F-gas regulations.
Following 25% and 30% rises in April and May, this latest huge increase means that the prices of R404A and R507 have risen by 225% in just three months. And it appears that this will not be the last.
Other common medium GWP refrigerants are also coming under increasing pressure. The air conditioning refrigerant R410A will be hit by a 50% price increase from July 1, as will the R404A alternative R407A. R134a is hit again, this time with a 40% rise. In all, these latest increases mean that R134a and R410A have virtually doubled in price since April 1.
Chemours has not commented on these latest increases but speaking at the recent RAC Question Time in London, Janet Ludert, Chemours fluorochemicials EMEA marketing manager warned: “Legacy products like R404A, R134a and R407C may become harder to find in the coming years. We have to manage our quota and for every container of R404A we can sell three containers of XP40 to help the market transition.
“It’s important that we make sure we manage that quota so we don’t exceed it. Obviously we don’t want to be non-compliant, we don’t want fines and penalties. We take very good care on a month to month basis that we manage our quota properly. That might mean in some months quota and product is less available than previous months,” she added.
Technique is currently offering a 10% promotional discount, which applies to ALL of our training courses during this Summer.
Simply enter the code ‘SUMMER10’ during the online booking process, apply the code and you will be entitled to a 10% price reduction for your chosen training course(s).
If you require any further information or have any queries regarding this discount, please do not hesitate to contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone on 01246 802222. You can also enquire via our live chat, which operates from 9:00am – 5:00pm, and 6:00pm – 10:00pm Monday to Friday.
*This discount does not apply to those using ELCAS funding towards their course.
Lower GWP refrigerant R452A has been specified in trials of two new Carrier Transicold engineless transport refrigeration systems.
In a bid to prepare its commercial fleet to be in compliance with tougher upcoming urban emissions initiatives logistics provider Kuehne + Nagel is trialling two new Carrier Transicold engineless refrigeration systems on vehicles operating under a contract with Whitbread.
Carrier Transicold’s PIEK-compliant multi-temperature Iceland units are mounted to an 18-tonne low-entry Mercedes-Benz Econic and a 26-tonne DAF CF, both on contract from Petit Forestier.
The units were selected for their ability to run entirely on hydro-electric power generated by the trucks’ ultra-clean Euro VI engines – removing the need for a separate diesel engine.
Both units have been specified with R452A refrigerant, which has the same cooling capacity, fuel efficiency, reliability and refrigerant charge as R404A. Sold by Chemours as Opteon XP44, R452A has a GWP of around 2141, which, although high, is a substantial reduction on R404A’s 3922.
“Within the lifetime of these vehicles, fleets in major cities are going to be facing stricter rules surrounding vehicle emissions,” said Andrew Blake, Kuehne + Nagel’s national distribution manager. “After consulting with Petit Forestier, we felt it was the perfect time to put Carrier Transicold’s new engineless transport refrigeration technology to the test.”
Both vehicles are in daily operation in a busy urban environment, transporting a mix of ambient, chilled, and frozen produce to the Whitbread-owned Premier Inn chain.
The DAF CF is based in Wellingborough and delivers into Birmingham and Nottingham, both of which will include a Clean Air Zone by 2020. The Econic – which allows the driver to sit much lower than in a conventional distribution truck – operates in London, which will enforce the country’s first ultra-low emission zone, also by 2020.
“At Whitbread, we believe we have a responsibility to operate in a way that respects both people and planet, and cutting CO2 emissions from our supply chain is part of that,” said Brodie McMillan, logistics director, Whitbread. “If these units deliver the benefits we’re expecting, Kuehne + Nagel will be looking to introduce the same technology into our delivery fleet, reducing the environmental impact of our vehicles and helping to improve air quality.”
Honeywell Process Solutions (HPS) announced on 12 June, the newest release of its ControlEdge™ Programmable Logic Controller (PLC). This release, combined with Honeywell’s Experion® distributed control system (DCS), provides a significant reduction in integration efforts and project costs as well as increased security and availability through enhanced cyber security for industrial facilities.
The PLC is used in a variety of balance of plant applications, such as equipment and device level control. It is part of the ControlEdge next generation family of controllers offering unprecedented, secure connectivity through all levels of process and business operations. Experion and ControlEdge PLC leverage a common Human Machine Interface (HMI) platform, provide faster field device commissioning, and improve device diagnostics.
The PLC is being offered to end users, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies, particularly those in global refining, oil and gas, power, chemical, water management industries, and infrastructure applications.
“Aside from greatly reducing integration costs when combined with Experion, ControlEdge PLC minimizes downtime through unified support, further decreases risk through embedded cyber security, and lowers total cost of ownership through an extended system lifecycle,” said Andrew D’Amelio, vice president and general manager of HPS’ Process Measurement and Control business. “With this newest release, we emphasize our commitment to rapidly evolve this platform to cover more applications and bring additional value to users.”
“Our customers benefit from seamless integration of a DCS with PLC, RTU, field device asset management, and a new HMI panel PC,” said Andrew Brodie, HPS global marketing leader, Controls. “Only Honeywell can serve as a single vendor for all these automation needs.”
ControlEdge PLC provides an IIoT-ready open platform that uses OPC Unified Architecture (UA) as a communication protocol and enables users to better leverage data across their assets. Honeywell’s IIoT portfolio of technologies is bundled in Honeywell Connected Plant, which combines Honeywell’s unmatched industrial expertise, software and cloud technologies to make customers’ operations more reliable, profitable and secure than ever before possible. To learn more about Honeywell Connected Plant, go to www.hwll.co/IIoT.
ECA launches #Project18 Wiring Regulations Campaign, with bitesize videos and survey open to all in the electrotechnical industry.
A new campaign to raise awareness of the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations (BS 7671) has been launched by the ECA. Entitled #Project18, the campaign initially includes a series of bitesize video updates on the planned changes, and a survey for the entire industry to provide feedback.
All of the informative videos can be found on the ECA’s YouTube page. There are videos on a range of updates to the regulations, including the new section on energy efficiency and changes to inspection and testing.
The ECA’s Wiring Regulations survey is open to the entire electrotechnical industry, and the findings will be used by the ECA to assist in providing feedback to the IET and BSI, who lead on the committees developing the standards.
ECA Head of Technical Steve Martin commented: “#Project18 is an exciting new campaign from the ECA which aims to raise awareness of the 18th edition of the Wiring Regulations. These proposals include some major changes, including new requirements on energy efficiency, so it’s important the industry is up-to-speed on developments.
“The ECA aims to support members and the wider industry by providing guidance and ensuring that the interests of businesses are represented effectively during the public consultation and beyond. Please do get involved with #Project18 by watching our videos and completing the survey.”
A draft of the planned changes to the Wiring Regulations is due to be released shortly, and will be open for public consultation until Wednesday 23 August. To find out more about the changes, and the planned timeline, visit the ECA website.
The ECA will be providing a suite of information in the coming months, via a range of mediums including blogs, infographics and guides, to ensure the electrotechnical industry is kept updated on the planned changes.
For many years, hydrofluorocarbon (HFC)-134a was the alternate refrigerant of choice to replace chlorofluorocarbon (CFC)-12 in many medium- and high-temperature stationary refrigeration, air conditioning, and automotive air conditioning applications. The pressure/temperature relationship and the latent heat values of R-134a are very similar to those of R-12. Also, R-134a is a very safe refrigerant with an ASHRAE safety classification of A1. This means it is not flammable and has very low toxicity levels. Because HFC-134a has no chlorine in its molecule, it has a zero ozone-depletion potential (ODP) and doesn’t deplete the stratospheric ozone layer.
R-134a is not a refrigerant blend. It is considered a pure compound and has only one molecule. The R-134a molecule is ethane-based and consists of carbon (C), fluorine (F), and hydrogen (H).
EVAPORATOR TEMPERATURE APPLICATION
As a medium- and high-temperature refrigerant, R-134a is not usually used in low-temperature applications. R-134a loses some capacity when compared to R-12 in low-temperature applications. At lower temperatures, R-134a has a slightly lower pressure than R-12, and at higher temperatures, R-134a has a bit of a higher pressure when compared to R-12. Otherwise, both refrigerants’ pressure/temperature relationships closely compare.
R-134a often operates with a very low pressure — if not a slight vacuum — in low-temperature applications. At about minus 15°F evaporating temperature, R-134a starts to fall into a vacuum. These lower pressures in lower temperature applications cause higher compression ratios, higher discharge temperatures, and low efficiencies — not to mention added stress on a system’s compressor.
R-134a refrigeration systems use synthetic polyolester (POE) lubricants while the automotive industry typically has used polyalkylene glycol (PAG) lubricants. Polarity differences between commonly used organic mineral oils and HFC refrigerants make R-134a insoluble, thus incompatible with mineral oils that were used in many refrigeration and air conditioning applications. R-134a was never intended to be a direct drop-in replacement for any refrigerant, and retrofit guidelines had to be followed when retrofitting a system to R-134a.
GLOBAL WARMING LEGISLATION
R-134a has a global-warming potential (GWP) of 1,430. This means it traps 1,430 times as much heat per kilogram as carbon dioxide does over a 100-year period. Because R-134a has such a high GWP, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) listed R-134a as an “unacceptable” refrigerant for certain refrigeration and air conditioning applications under its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. These applications include:
New light-duty motor vehicle air conditioning, starting in 2021, with a few narrow use limit exceptions. The exceptions are for newly manufactured light-duty vehicles destined for use in countries that do not have infrastructures in place for servicing with other acceptable refrigerants. The narrow use limit will continue through model year 2025;
Beginning in model year 2026, R-134a will be unacceptable for use in all newly manufactured light-duty vehicles;
New vending machines as of Jan. 1, 2019;
New stand-alone, medium-temperature units with a compressor capacity below 2,200 Btuh not containing a flooded evaporator as of Jan. 1, 2019; and
New stand-alone, medium-temperature units with a compressor capacity equal to or greater than 2,200 Btuh and stand-alone medium-temperature units containing a flooded evaporator as of Jan. 1, 2020.
SOME R-134a REPLACEMENT OPTIONS
There are a number of candidates to replace R-134a in the applications for which it will be deemed unacceptable by the EPA.
HFO-1234yf — Hydrofluoroolefin (HFO)-1234yf is a low-GWP replacement for R-134a intended for use in mobile air conditioning systems in the automotive industry. It has an ODP of zero and a GWP of 4. HFO-1234yf’s GWP is more than 300 times less than that of R-134a. Many European and some U.S. car manufacturers are currently using HFO-1234yf for mobile air conditioning applications. HFO-1234yf has one of the lowest switching cost for automakers compared to other alternatives. It is classified as a low-toxicity but slightly flammable refrigerant by ASHRAE with an A2L safety classification. The continued development of standards and codes for safe use of mildly flammable A2L refrigerants is very important. HFO-1234yf is miscible in POE lubricants. The miscibility of HFOs with POE lubricants is comparable to that of R-134a. HFOs are not soluble in mineral oil or alkylbenzene lubricants.
HFO-1234ze — HFO-1234ze can be used in vending machines, refrigerators, beverage dispensers, air dryers, and carbon dioxide cascade systems in commercial refrigeration. It has an ODP of zero and a GWP of 6. Other applications include both air- and water-cooled chillers in supermarkets and commercial buildings. HFO-1234ze offers excellent energy efficiency, is cost-effective, and can be used in existing equipment design with minimal changes. HFO-1234ze also offers advantages over R-32, which has a medium GWP, an A2 refrigerant safety rating, and high discharge temperatures. The miscibility of HFO-1234ze with POE lubricants is comparable to that of R-134a.
HC-290 (Propane) — Hydrocarbon (HC)-290 has an A3 safety group classification, meaning it is highly flammable. Its molecule contains nothing but hydrogen and carbon. It has an ODP of zero and a GWP of 3. As long as the refrigerant charge doesn’t exceed 5.3 ounces (150 grams), it can be used in freezers, household refrigerators, combination refrigerators and freezers, room air conditioners, and vending machines. As with the A2L refrigerants, the continued development of standards and codes for safe use of flammable refrigerants is very important.
HC-600a (Isobutane) — Like HC-290, HC-600a has an A3 (highly flammable) safety group classification. Its molecule contains hydrogen and carbon. It has an ODP of zero and a GWP of 3. As long as the refrigerant charge does not exceed 2 ounces (57 grams), it can be used in vending machines and retail food refrigeration (stand-alone commercial refrigerators and freezers). Again, the continued development of standards and codes for the safe use of HCs is very important.
R-513A — R-513A is an HFO/HFC blend with an ODP of zero and a GWP of 63. R-513A has a close performance match to R-134a for new and retrofitted systems. It is the lowest GWP refrigerant in the A1 safety classification to replace R-134a in stationary systems.
R-450A — R-450A is a near-azeotropic refrigerant blend containing an HFO refrigerant designed to replace R-134a in commercial and industrial refrigerators as well as air conditioning and chillers. It has a very low temperature glide and can be used in direct expansion or flooded evaporator systems. It is compatible with POE lubricants.
President Donald Trump today announced his decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate change agreement — thus aligning the U.S. for probably the only time ever with Syria and Nicaragua as the only major nations opposed to the 195-nation commitment to cutting greenhouse gases.
Meanwhile, here in the U.K., a more pragmatic climate change initiative — the European Union’s F-Gas regulations — is running into a bit of a roadblock. The refrigeration industry continues to be exercised by the threat of higher-GWP refrigerants either getting very expensive or becoming very scarce, or both.
But now after speaking with several industry stakeholders, I think we need to up the threat level to “critical” — to borrow a military term.
To recap quickly: The EU F-Gas regulations have set in place a dual mechanism for reducing use of higher-GWP refrigerants. On the one hand, the regulations ban refrigerants over a certain GWP level, and on the other they aim to steadily reduce the amount of HFCs allowed into the EU market.
When it put this mechanism in place, the European Commission hoped it would enable the cooling industries of Europe to readily embrace their destiny, to see the bans looming like an iceberg in the middle distance and thus to steer in timely fashion to the brave new world of lower-GWP refrigerants.
Instead — in the U.K. at least — the end-user community seems to have done its usual trick of ignoring anything too far in the future, and in fact ignoring a number of warnings that there was a problem on the horizon. At our recent F-Gas Question Time, consultant Ray Gluckman reminded the audience that it was as far back as 2011 that he had first written an article called, “Is it Time to Stop Using R404A?”
Unfortunately, it seems, few end-users have heeded the warnings. Now we are in 2017, and that iceberg is looming very large.
The higher-GWP refrigerants are set to be banned in supermarket-type systems in just over two years’ time — from 2020, end-users won’t even be able to top up leaking equipment with R404A, unless it is in a reclaimed version. But that’s not the half of it, because the way the quota reductions have been calculated, the stocks of the higher GWP refrigerants — which in Europe means R404A and R507 initially — are going to reduce rapidly from 2018, with a 44 percent cut in volume in real terms.
As I wrote back in April, two of the biggest refrigerant manufacturers had grown frustrated with the apathy among end-users and had taken matters into their own hands. Honeywell announced it would stop selling R404 and R507 into the EU next year, while Chemours took the economic route, announcing sequential price rises, to the point where R404A would now generally be at parity with the HFOs designed to replace it.
Coming a couple of months after the announcements, our F-Gas Question Time very much had the theme of “Don’t do nothing. Do something.” The consensus was that more communication needs to take place in the refrigeration supply chain to alert their customers to the new realities.
Speaker after speaker at the event stressed that while the larger supermarkets had made plans to move away from R404A — in fact, the largest, Tesco, just announced a 1,200-store, three-year program of conversions, which gives an indication of the scale of the task — there are large numbers of customers in other sectors, such as convenience stores and industrial refrigeration, who remain ignorant of the necessity to change.
Gluckman put it in forthright terms: “Someone has to warn end users to get their R404A out of the system. … I really worry that we have still not get the message through to contractors and end-users that the end is nigh.”
At the same time, Gluckman warned of double jeopardy — that the slow move away from R404A has left a much smaller bank of reclaimed refrigerant than had been forecast. Thus, companies should not depend on using reclaimed stocks to service their estates after 2020, because there might not be enough of it.
For the refrigerant manufacturers, there was a tone that now it was time to talk turkey. Chemours European marketing manager Janet Ludert appealed for action.
“We have to proactive and not reactive when it comes to moving to lower GWP refrigerants, or we may find ourselves falling off a cliff,” Ludert said.
She also pointed out a significant consequence of the fact that the quota system is based on a refrigerant’s CO2 equivalent. Refrigerant manufacturers can import three containers of HFOs for every container of R404A, based on CO2e, so it is clear where the economic driver will come from.
In order to tackle the apathy — which was either born of the economic uncertainty of Brexit, or of some sort of “refrigerant conversion fatigue” — all agreed it was important to get the message out beyond the bigger companies to the so-called “white van man.” This, unfortunately, underlines another institutional problem with the U.K. refrigeration industry — it is fragmented, and thus a whole swath of end users in independent grocers and individual industrial sites do not come into contact with the best practices.
There was talk about making messages more simple and direct to the customer that conversion has to take place sooner rather than later — with the tongue-in-cheek suggestion that R404A canisters should start sporting a “Use By 2020” label.
“We have been warning about demand outstripping supply [on higher GWP refrigerants], and we are very nearly there,” Mark Hughes of Chemours said.
Ludert warned that if everyone left their low-GWP conversions to the last minute, it would create what she called a “retrofit wave” of more activity than the industry’s personnel could handle
“We can’t fit all the retrofits in to one year in 2018. There won’t be the technicians or the equipment to meet the demand,” she said. “Depending on how the industry manages it, it could be a trickle or it could be a tsunami.”
The business of preventing that flood is going to exercise the European cooling industry in the coming months. I will be sure to report on progress.
Maxim says its new platform transforms traditional manufacturing processes with real-time intelligence, adaptive manufacturing, and distributed control
Maxim Integrated has launched a new Pocket IO programmable logic controller development platform which it says can significantly increase manufacturing productivity.
The company says the platform provides customers with the ability to achieve the smallest form factor and highest power efficiency for next-generation PLC designs.
Lost productivity is a common concern for Industry 4.0 designers challenged with keeping a manufacturing line running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Without intelligent data available at their fingertips, factory operators do not have the insight to make informed, real-time decisions which can significantly improve uptime, revenue, and gross margins.
In addition to capturing real-time data, PLCs require fan-less operation due to harsh industrial environments. As a result, highly efficient power solutions are required to minimize heat dissipation.
Maxim’s Pocket IO PLC development platform redefines how factories operate and enables Industry 4.0 applications. To maximize productivity, it provides real-time intelligence to quickly and effectively make decisions, adaptive manufacturing to avoid potential downtime, and distributed control to provide redundancy.
Maxim says the Pocket IO provides the following key advantages to increase productivity:
Real-time intelligence: Fast data processing provides the necessary data to make intelligent decisions quickly and effectively to optimize yield.
Adaptive manufacturing: Manufacturing flexibility allows for real-time changes and adjustments to avoid potential downtime.
Distributed control: Ultra-small footprint of less than 10 cubic inches and smart energy consumption brings PLC down to the manufacturing line, re-distributing intelligent control and providing redundancy.
When compared to the Micro PLC Platform from two years ago, the Pocket IO decreases form factor by an additional 2.5x and reduces power consumption by another 30 per cent.
Utilizing patent-pending, fast, and safe demagnetization clamps integrated within the MAX14913 octal high-side switch and driver, it achieves 15x space savings by eliminating 16 diodes from its previous solution. In addition, the MAX17681 iso-buck DC-DC converter provides greater than 90 per cent power efficiency when compared to its predecessor—a reduction of power dissipation of over 30 per cent.
The MAX31913 octal, digital input translator/serializer can be powered off of any available 5V supply while still accepting input signals up to 36V, eliminating all protection components needed on the 24V supply pin and thus reducing total footprint by 50 per cent.
Jeff DeAngelis, managing director of business management at Maxim Integrated, says: “We leveraged Maxim’s strong IP portfolio and long history specializing in analog integration to create this new pathway to Industry 4.0.
“The Pocket IO is a development platform for designers and it demonstrates our complete industrial communications and power capabilities, including our robust IO-Link smart sensor technology.”
The JIB ‘Survey of Accidents’ report shows that the safety record in the industry has continued to improve.
The electrical contracting industry has continued its excellent safety record with a further improvement in the reportable accident rate, contributing to a remarkable trend of continual improvement over the last 15 years (see graph).
The 2016 JIB ‘Survey of Accidents’ report, based on statistics gathered by JIB and ECA members, shows that the 2016 accident incidence rate (AIR) for RIDDOR-reportable accidents is only 14% of what it was in 2001.
Once again, there were no reported fatalities in the survey, which showed an industry AIR of 216.38 per 100,000 operatives, which compares to the 2001 figure of 1600/100,000. Of the accidents that occurred in 2016, falls were reported as the most prevalent type of serious injury.
According to Paul Reeve, who leads ECA’s health and safety activity: “We’ll be taking a further look at falls from height in particular but the number and, more importantly, the rate of reportable accidents among JIB members has fallen to its lowest ever. This is a great achievement, and it’s the result of an industry team effort from ECA, Unite, member companies and employees. The rate of improvement since 2001 is around double that seen in the wider construction industry.“
There is a greater risk of electrical fires in social housing due to inequalities in electrical safety standards, a leading safety charity has said.
Electrical Safety First is calling on the Scottish Government to equalise safety checks between private rented housing and social housing.
The Scottish Government requires regular electrical checks, by a registered electrician, in all private rented homes, but the legislation doesn’t cover those in social housing, or those living in their own homes, who comprise more than 80% of the total housing mix.
To help address this, Electrical Safety First has just launched a major campaign called Inequality Street.
Phil Buckle, chief executive of Electrical Safety First, said: “There is a clear inconsistency between electrical safety standards in private and social housing – and even more so in relation to owner-occupied homes.
“While owner occupiers can choose to determine acceptable risk levels in their home, this can be an issue when they live in tenements and flats, where fire can easily spread and impact on other residents. We want a common electrical safety standard for all housing in Scotland. At the moment, we really do have ‘inequality streets’, where one resident might be much better protected from electrical risk than their neighbour next door.”
The safety charity is calling for five yearly electrical safety checks to be extended to all social housing and mandatory checks in owner-occupied properties – or, as a first step, in owner-occupied flats. The charity is also lobbying for RCDs, which rapidly cut the current to prevent a fatal electric shock, to be fitted in all rented homes.