Fluorocarbon Refrigerants

CFC Phaseout: An Industry Success Story

The air conditioning and refrigeration industry began taking action almost 25 years ago to reduce its use of CFC refrigerants. By using alternative refrigerants and achieving higher efficiency ratings to produce comfort cooling and refrigeration equipment, the industry has helped to reduce the impact of refrigerants on our ozone layer and global warming emissions.

CFC refrigerants are no longer available in new equipment; however, there is still commercial air conditioning equipment operating today that use CFC refrigerants because of the long useful life of HVAC equipment. To accelerate the phaseout of older equipment that use CFC refrigerant, the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, along with many green building groups, have supported legislative action that would reduce the federal tax depreciation schedule for this equipment. AHRI believes the current schedule should be reduced from 39 years to a shorter period of time that more realistically reflects the equipment’s average life span, which can range from 10 to 20 years. The change would satisfy important policy goals, including enhancing energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide and CFC emissions.

HCFC Phaseout: The Next Chapter

HCFCs also are ozone-depleting substances, but they are less damaging to the ozone layer than CFCs. For this reason, under the terms of the Montreal Protocol, the production and consumption of HCFCs will be phased out in developed countries over the next 20 years. HCFCs are used extensively in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment manufactured and installed today. The most common HCFC refrigerant is R-22.

The first obligation in the HCFC phaseout began in 2003, when supplies of HCFC-22, HCFC-141b, and HCFC-142b were restricted to holders of consumption allowances. Similarly, imports of all used HCFCs are restricted to those who have obtained EPA approval prior to the shipments export from the country of origin.

In 2004, the U.S. limited its consumption of HCFCs to less than 35 percent below the baseline cap established in 1996. This was done by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banning production and import of HCFC-141b, the HCFC with the highest ODP. This action allowed the United States to meet its obligations under the Montreal Protocol.

EPA also issued baseline allowances for production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b. The agency allocated U.S. consumption and production caps by allocating both consumption and production allowances to individual companies for HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b.

The next major step in the HCFC phaseout includes further limitation of the production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b. Starting January 1, 2010, the production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b for newly manufactured equipment will stop in the United States. The production and import limits will be set at a level that is suitable for servicing existing equipment.

Between 2010 and 2020, HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b will be made available for sale for the exclusive purpose of servicing existing equipment.

As of January 1, 2015, as part of the phaseout of all HCFCs, the supplies of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b will be further reduced due to a 90 percent reduction in consumption and production, which will essentially eliminate the broad market availability of R-22 refrigerant.

EPA will not permit newly manufactured HCFC-22, HCFC-142b, or blends containing either substance, to be used for charging new equipment starting January 1, 2010. In addition, the production and import of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b will be banned entirely in the United States by January 1 2020. Once this happens, only recycled/reclaimed or stockpiled quantities of HCFC-22 and HCFC-142b will be available for servicing existing equipment.

From January 1, 2020 until January 1, 2030, new HCFC-123 can only be used in equipment manufactured prior to January 1, 2020. After January 1, 2030, only recycled and reclaimed HCFC-123 or stockpiled quantities will be available to service existing equipment.