In the last few years, international environmental agencies and bodies have been calling out to the governments and businesses to use refrigerants that don’t contribute to the degradation of the ozone layer. With CFCs phased-out a few year ago, there has been a similar demand to phase-down and phase-out HCFCs used in refrigeration and air conditioning, as seen in the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.
HCFCs can be used as blowing agents during the manufacturing of foam insulation products, says Sarmad Fakhri, Managing Director of Kingspan Insulation. Elaborating further, he says that blowing agents used in foam insulation production will have a different global warming potential (GWP) and ozone depletion potential (ODP).
“In this context,” Fakhri says, “it is important to understand that, whilst reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions of a building, thermal insulation and pre-insulated panels can impact climate change if they are not manufactured in a responsible manner. To underscore the point, blowing agents, such as HCFCs, used in the manufacture of foam insulation products, can be released into the atmosphere, and certain blowing agents that manufacturers are using can accelerate climate change.”
After the use of CFCs were banned, manufacturers switched to HCFCs as they have relatively low ODP. However, Fakhri mentioned, that HCFCs have a GWP of up to 2,000 times that of carbon dioxide, which poses a great risk to the environment.
Despite this, Fakhri says, manufacturers continue to use HCFCs as blowing agents for foam insulation. “So, are HCFCs safe for the environment?” he asks, before answering negatively.
In conclusion, Fakhri says that “pre-insulated ductwork systems with ODP of zero and a low GWP would be an easy route for specifiers, engineers and contractors to help combat climate change.”