Challenges of the refrigeration industry

Never before has the demand for efficient and clean refrigeration technology been greater than today.

Many chillers will fail to comply with the regulatory requirements of the coming years. There are also many uncertainties regarding prices and availability of F-Gas refrigerants and electricity cost increases.

The F-Gas Regulation, the Ecodesign or ErP Directive and DIN EN 378 pose challenges for contractors and operators of refrigeration systems. Read more about the legal requirements that will permanently change the refrigeration industry and invest in new strategies today.

Climate protection requirements for refrigerants

F-Gas Regulation (EU) N°517/2014

The F-Gas Regulation, which came into force on 1 January 2015, aims to reduce the CO2 equivalent of refrigerants by nearly 80% until the year 2030. This calls for a reduction of the emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-Gases) by 70 million tons of CO2 equivalent in the EU.

Phase down – Since 2015, all EU member states are required to gradually reduce the CO2 equivalent of F-gas refrigerants by almost 80% until the year 2030.

The reduction of emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases is to be achieved by the following three approaches:

  • Gradual reduction of the CO2 equivalent of refrigerants on the market to about one fifth of the sales volumes by 2030.
  • Prohibiting the use of high GWP refrigerants for which more climate-friendly alternatives are available and where technical implementations are feasible.
  • Maintaining and expanding the statutory regulations on leak testing, certification, disposal and labeling.
    The intention of the F-Gas Regulation is to encourage the use of natural refrigerants instead of F-gases and in any case the reduction of high GWP fluids.

The following graphic shows a selection of available refrigerants. Any type of system that uses a refrigerant with GWP > 2500 will be banned from 1.1.2020 onwards. The use of the refrigerant R404A and R507A is therefore not recommendable because of their high GWP values.

The refrigerants R410A, R407C and R134a will not be banned by the F-Gas Regulation beyond 2030, but they will be subject to certain F-gas quotas allocated to manufacturers and importers, so that overall reductions is ensured. This quota system and the related limited availability of these refrigerants will inevitably lead to a sharp increase of prices. An example proving this already is the tremendous price increase of the refrigerant R410A in the period between March 2017 and October 2018.

The refrigerants R717 (ammonia), R1234ze, R744 (C02) and R32 have a relatively low or no global warming potential, but they create various other risks. R1234ze, propane and R32 are flammable, CO2 is a high pressure refrigerant and ammonia is flammable as well as poisonous. Care should be taken when using these refrigerants and they are also more cost-intensive respectively due to the prescribed shorter intervals for leak testing and certification, disposal and labeling.

The F-Gas-Regulation does not apply to the eChiller as the CO2-equivalent value for the global warming potential of water (R718) is “0”. The danger of freezing, which is given with the refrigerant water, can be avoided by indoor installation or integration of the eChiller in a compact container solution. As such, the eChiller with its use of water as refrigerant supports the EU’s climate goals.

Read more about the F-gas regulation on the website of the Federal Environmental Agency (German)

Energy efficiency requirements for chillers

Ecodesign Directive (EU) N° 2016/2281

The Ecodesign Directive defines the requirements for the environmentally-friendly design of energy using products (Energy related Products – ErP) within the EU, and also prescribes minimum efficiencies for chillers.

Regulation (EU) 2016/2281 specifies limit values which have to be complied with since 01.01.2018. The Ecodesign Directive applies to multi-split and VRF air conditioners with cooling capacities above 12 kW. It is also to be used for chillers in air conditioning applications with flow temperatures of > 2 °C and for chillers for process cooling with flow temperatures between 2 °C and 12 °C. In both cases the upper limit is 2 MW.

The eChiller is ErP-ready. In “comfort cooling” the eChiller fulfils the current and future requirements of the Ecodesign Directives. For process cooling, the eChiller works in a temperature range that is not addressed by the Ecodesign Directive.

Chiller safety requirements (operator obligations)

DIN EN 378

DIN EN 378, which consists of four parts, defines standards for stationary refrigeration systems and heat pumps. These standards define requirements for the safety of persons and property, provides instructions for the protection of the environment and procedures for the operation, maintenance and repair of refrigeration systems and the recovery of refrigerants.

Not applicable for the eChiller

Water is non-toxic, non-flammable and has no global warming potential. Therefore, the DIN standard EN 378 does not apply to the eChiller, nor does the German operating and monitoring directive. A machine room is not required, and no statutory leakage tests or measurement of gas sensors are required. Unrestricted installation in any building is possible.