California, USA, 18 September 2018: With refrigerants being emitted into the environment during production processes, due to leakages, as well as during end of life (EOL) disposal of the appliances, measures must be taken to reduce their negative ramifications on the environment. This was the stance Kevin Bayuk, Senior Financial Fellow, Project Drawdown, shared as he highlighted key takeaways from the Refrigerant Management Technical Report authored by Kapil Narula. With refrigerant management ranked the number one solution in the move to reduce greenhouse gases, Bayuk outlined the five main recommendations to move the dial on the issue: 1) Lowering demand/use of appliances and thereby production of refrigerants, 2) Replacing refrigerants with low GWP HFC/new cooling agents/non-HFC substances, 3) Increasing efficiency of refrigeration in appliances, thereby lowering the use of refrigerants, 4) Controlling leakages of refrigerants from existing appliances by good management practices and 5) Ensuring recovery, reclaiming/recycling and destruction of refrigerants at EOL. Bayuk said Drawdown’s analysis, report and solution models the lasts two options and discussed some aspects of the second solution, specifically in the context of the recent Kigali accord.
Bayuk said the solution is restricted to refrigeration, heat pumps and air conditioning applications and takes into account CFC, HCFC and HFC gases separately, as these have different GWP and phase-out schedules. “The solution consists of two parts,” he said, “emissions that can be avoided by controlling leakages from refrigerant banks and emissions that are avoided by destroying refrigerants, which are recovered at end of life of the equipment.”
Focusing on the strategies modeled by Project Drawdown, Bayuk said literature suggests that refrigerant management is difficult to implement as the appliances are distributed. “There are weak regulations on controlling leakage of refrigerants, EOL recovery and destruction of refrigerants,” he said. “Further there are no economic incentives for the recovery of refrigerants. Funding, training, technical and informational barriers are also some of the limitations for adoption of the solution.”
Bayuk said in order to increase adoption, policies and regulations on recycling/management of refrigerants need to be formulated and implemented. “Strong regulations such as a complete ban on venting of refrigerants and accountability of refrigerants have to be introduced in national legislation,” he added. “Economic incentives for recovery, recycling and destruction of refrigerants, such as issue of carbon credits under the Kyoto protocol would help increase the adoption in developing countries. Capacity building in these countries, including technology transfer, would help aid faster adoption of the solution.”
Informational barriers, Bayuk said, is another bottleneck. “Increased adoption of better practices is needed,” he said. “Service technicians need to be equipped and trained and have to be informed of the safety risks associated with handling refrigerant gases.” He added, there can also be informational barriers for large consumers or end users on the safe disposal of equipment at EOL, including the location of nearest reclamation/destruction facilities. Additionally, he said, due to absence of national certification procedures for personnel, availability of trained person power is also a barrier.
Hannah Jo Uy is Assistant Editor at Climate Control Middle East magazine. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org