F-gas Regulation

Effects of the EU F-gas Regulation on compressed air refrigeration dryers

The new EU 517/2014 F-gases Regulation is intended to minimise emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases and therefore contribute to limiting global warming. This legislation is binding in Europe. 

The Regulation prohibits the placement on the market of certain greenhouse gases and refrigeration equipment and uses a quota system to ensure a significantly reduced market offering of refrigerants that are customary in the market. In the case of refrigeration specialists and operators, it also specifies extended rules for the handling of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

The following is intended to clarify this complex topic based on frequently asked questions. See the position paper for further information.

Who is affected by the new F-gas Regulation?

This position paper is relevant for readers who purchase, sell, distribute, maintain, repair and dispose of refrigeration dryers within the EU.

Which refrigeration dryers are affected?

All refrigeration dryers that are imported, manufactured, operated, maintained, repaired and disposed of in the EU are affected if they require fluorinated greenhouse gases for their operation. Typical refrigeration dryers currently available in the marketplace use, as a rule, fluorinated hydrocarbons (HFC) as refrigerant. These are classified as fluorinated greenhouse gases. 

This position paper classifies refrigeration dryers for compressed air and inert gases as stationary refrigeration systems as defined by the Regulation. It rates refrigeration dryers as refrigeration systems designed for trade and industrial use. The requirements for the placement on the market of household refrigerators and freezers or installations for commercial use are not applicable to refrigeration dryers.

What are the changes when compared with the previous F-gas Regulation?

The current Regulation EU 517/2014 which applies since the 1st of January 2015 replaces the previous F-gas Regulation EU 842/2006. The previous requirements have been mostly maintained but are now expanded. Particularly relevant areas for refrigeration dryers have been newly defined:

  • Shortage of the market offering of currently used refrigerants (Art. 14 ff)
  • Publication obligations for refrigeration dryers and their refrigerants (Art. 12)
  • Prohibition of R-404A for the maintenance of dryers with filling quantities from10.2 kg (Art. 13)
  • Prohibition of placing R-404A refrigeration dryers on the market (Art. 11) 
  • New limit values and obligatory documentation requirements for leak checks (Art. 3-4, 6)
  • Certification of service personnel (Art. 10)
  • Recovery of refrigerants at the end of life (Art. 8).

Will currently-used refrigerants no longer be offered?

At this point in time, all previously customary refrigerants are available on the market. However, the availability of certain refrigerants will decrease. Some refrigerants, R-404A for example, will be completely removed from the market in the foreseeable future. The individual duration and scope of availability essentially depends on their contribution to the greenhouse effect. It is calculated from the product of the substance-specific global warming potential (also called “GWP”) of any refrigerant and its specific mass in metric tonnes. This product is known as the “CO2 equivalent”.

What is the driving force behind curtailing the offering of current refrigerants?

In the years 2009 to 2012, the annual average of all fluorinated greenhouse gases in circulation in the EU was determined for the Regulation. This quantity, expressed as CO2 equivalent, was defined as the 100% baseline for 2015. It must be incrementally reduced to 21% by 2030. This process is also known as the “phase-down”.

Would it make sense for operators to stockpile R-404A for servicing existing machines?

No Fluorinated greenhouse gases may be sold for installation, maintenance, service and repair only to companies which are certified as defined by the Regulation or employ certified personnel. Furthermore, it must be noted that, after the 1st of January 2020, new R-404A for service purposes may be used only in machines with filling quantities below 10.2 kg. Hence, the conversion to alternative refrigerants should be considered.