The strongest motivation behind refrigerant gas leak detection is the European Union F-Gas regulation brought into effect as part of the EU’s environmental obligation under the Kyoto protocol to lower refrigerant gas emissions.
The much anticipated changes of F-Gas regulation aim to strengthen the existing regulation in terms of reducing leakage of hydrofluorocarbons (HFC’s), to persuade the industry to move towards a HFC free market and encourage use of low GWP (Global Warming Potential) refrigerants to reduce the effect on global warming and climate change.
The purpose of refrigerant gas leak detection equipment is to identify any possible gas leaks from a refrigerant system. Therefore, gas leak detection has an important role to play in the refrigerant gas phase down that comes into effect from January 2015.
The new F-Gas regulation document was officially published on May 20th 2014. This means that the existing F-Gas regulation will be revoked as the new regulation enters into force and takes effect from January 1st 2015.
The new F-Gas regulation document has caused confusion and distress to many different sectors of the ACR industry as they seek further clarification from the EU and the UK’s agency, Defra.
The F-Gas regulation has introduced a phase-down which decreases use of HFC’s (in tonnes of CO2 equivalent) on the market in the EU. The EU has announced it has adopted the proposed revisions to the F-Gas regulation, which will see HFC emissions cut by two-thirds by 2030.
The regulation also introduces bans on the placing on the market of the following products:
- Domestic refrigerators and freezers containing HFC’s with a GWP of 150 or more as from 1 January 2015;
- Technical aerosols that contain HFC’s with a GWP of 150 or more from 1 January 2018;
- Stationary refrigeration equipment that contains or relies upon for its functioning HFC’s with a GWP of 2500 or more from 1 January 2020;
- Portable room air-conditioning appliances that contain HFC’s with GWP of 150 or more from 1 January 2020;
- Commercial refrigerators and freezers containing HFC’s with a GWP of 2500 or more from 1 January 2020, and containing HFC’s with a GWP of 150 or more from 1 January 2022;
- Foams that contain HFC’s with a GWP of 150 or more, extruded polystyrene from 1 January 2020 and other foams 1 January 2023;
- Centralised refrigeration systems for commercial use with a capacity of 40kW or more that contain or rely upon their functioning, fluorinated gases with a GWP of 150 or more, from 1 January 2022;
- Single split air-conditioning systems containing less than 3 kg of F-Gases that contain F-Gases with a GWP of 750 or more from 1 January 2025.
We must act now
With the new F-Gas regulations coming into force in January 2015, the ACR industry must take immediate action to firstly, familiarise themselves with the new regulations and where it applies to them.
Secondly, the thresholds which stipulate requirements for mandatory gas leak detection have changed for most HFC refrigerant charges. For those with R404a who have a refrigerant system charge up to 300kgs under the previous regulation, they will likely now require a fixed leak detection system.
You need to start reviewing your requirements now to ensure you are compliant with leak checking procedures. Any required fixed leak detection systems will need to be in place for when the F-Gas regulation comes into force.
A guide to selecting the right refrigerant gas leak detector
For those people faced with purchasing gas leak detection, we have created a quick guide to help you with your decision. There are two main types of gas detection units: Fixed and Portable Gas Leak Detectors
The most popularly used types of Fixed Gas Leak Detectors are Remote Stand Alone Sensors and Aspirated Systems.
Both types may be suitable for your requirements depending on the size of your installation, the number of points to be monitored, communications (I/O) and costs.
Remote stand-alone sensors
- Placed at or close to the area that requires monitoring whilst offering reduced installation costs
- Provides communications back to Building Management Systems (BMS) so a continuous signal can be supplied from that area
- Cost effective for applications that only require a few points of detection
- Cost-effective for large installations for up to 32 individual sampling points of detection
- Datalogging on board the system and often offer a touch-screen display screen
- Multiple relay outputs for alarms and communications
- Easy to upgrade from existing gas measurements to low GWP HFC gases
- Central monitoring system where gas is analysed via an infrared bench / gas sensor
Portable Gas Leak Detectors
Portable gas leak detectors allow you to continuously monitor gases across multiple locations within an application. They are most commonly used by service engineering personnel who conduct mandatory leak checks as part of a service routine or to accurately pinpoint a leak that has been identified by a fixed gas leak detection system.