RECYCLING REFRIGERANTS BASIC INFORMATION AND TUTORIALS

WHY RECYCLE REFRIGERANTS?


Several regulations have been issued under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act to govern the recycling of refrigerants in stationary systems and to end the practice of venting refrigerants to the air. These regulations also govern the handling of halon fire-extinguishing agents.

A Web site and both the regulations themselves and fact sheets are available from the EPA Stratospheric Ozone Hotline at 1-800-296-1996. The handling and recycling of refrigerants used in motor-vehicle air conditioning systems is governed under section 609 of the Clean Air Act.

In 2005 EPA finalized a rule amending the definition of refrigerant to make certain that it only includes substitutes that consist of a class I or class II ozone-depleting substance (ODS). This rule also amended the venting prohibition to make certain that it remains illegal to knowingly vent non exempt substitutes that do not consist of a class I or class II ODS, such as R-134a and R-410A.

In the same year EPA published a final rule extending the required leak-repair practices and the associated reporting and record-keeping requirements to owners and/or operators of comfort-cooling, commercial- refrigeration, or industrial-process refrigeration appliances containing more than 50 pounds of a substitute refrigerant if the substitute contains a class I or class II ozone-depleting substance (ODS).

In addition, EPA defined leak rate in terms of the percentage of the appliance’s full charge that would be lost over a consecutive 12-month period if the current rate of loss were to continue over that period. EPA now requires calculation of the leak rate whenever a refrigerant is added to an appliance.

In 2004 EPA finalized a rule sustaining the Clean Air Act prohibition against venting hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) and perfluorocarbon (PFC) refrigerants. This rule makes the knowing venting of HFC and PFC refrigerants during the maintenance, service, repair, and disposal of air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment (i.e., appliances) illegal under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act.

The ruling also restricts the sale of HFC refrigerants that consist of an ozone-depleting substance (ODS) to EPA-certified technicians. However, HFC refrigerants and HFC refrigerant blends that do not consist of an ODS are not covered under “The Refrigerant Sales Restriction,” a brochure that documents the environmental and financial reasons to replace CFC chillers with new, energy-efficient equipment.

A partnership of governments, manufacturers, NGOs (nongovernmental organizations), and others have endorsed the brochure to eliminate uncertainty and underscore the wisdom of replacing CFC chillers.

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