US EPA Targets High-GWP Refrigerants in SNAP Proposal
R-134a, -404A, and -507 Face Proposed Use Restrictions in 2016
The US government is proposing to restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants R-134a, -404A and -507 in certain new and retrofit retail food applications.
On Aug. 9, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published “40 CFR Part 82 Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Change of Listing Status for Certain Substitutes Under the Significant New Alternatives Policy Program; Proposed Rule” in the Federal Register.
The rule deems certain HFC refrigerants unacceptable in specific applications on or after Jan. 1, 2016. If implemented, the ruling would impact:
• R-507 and -404A for “new and retrofit retail food refrigeration (including stand-alone equipment, condensing units, direct supermarket systems, and indirect supermarket systems) and new and retrofit vending machines.”
• R–227ea, –407B, –421B, –422A, –422C, –422D, –428A, and –434A for “new and retrofit retail food refrigeration (including direct supermarket systems and indirect supermarket systems).”
• R-134a “and certain other HFC refrigerant blends for new stand-alone retail food refrigeration and new vending machines.”
A Proposal for Now
The proposal is just that — a proposal. The agency is accepting comments through Oct. 6, after which it would issue a final ruling. The proposal is based on concerns about the perceived high-global warming potential (GWP) of the listed refrigerants. All are used within the retail food sector, where leak rates for equipment can be as high as 30 percent, although that sector has made significant strides in recent years to reduce those rates.
The proposal is also based on the EPA’s contention that acceptable alternatives are available. These include low-GWP HFCs, hydrocarbons (HCs), and CO?.