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A2L Classified Products – What are the Challenges?

According to new legislations, refrigerant is now quantified by global warming potential, or GWP, rather than by volume. The ongoing efforts to reduce the impact of global warming as a result of refrigerant aims to phase out several of the high GWP gases by 2020.

As a result, refrigerant suppliers now have to apply for a quantity licence based on their previous sales records. Not only that, but once they have used up their GWP allocation, they will not be allowed to sell anymore. This means that the only way for supplies to maintain their sales volumes is to invest in refrigerants with a lower level of GWP potentials.

Many large equipment manufacturers are already in the process of redesigning their products and incorporating new technologies in order to meet new legislations. R134a, R404a and R410a are being replaced by more carbon-friendly productions and other lower GWP alternatives.

New refrigerants such as R32 are categorised as A2L, which are mildly flammable. The automotive industry is currently making use of R1234yf in all new type approved vehicles, resulting in many having to upgrade their service equipment to ensure it is A2L compatible. The same principal will apply refrigeration engineers who will need to ensure they are fully equipped to work with the substances.

As A2L is a heavier form of gas than air it will only burn if there is a flame. Therefore, if for example a R32 system is suspected of leaking, engineers will be required to make use of an ATEX approved leak detector to ensure the substance does not ignite. Furthermore, as an R32 unit requires recovering, an A2L recovery unit with high electrical protection would be required. The power lead will then need to be fixed using a regulation electrical gland as the switch gear and IEC lead could leave open a live socket, causing it to spark.

One of the most important upgrades to A2L recovery units is the correct re-settable overload protection and uprated ventilation fans to clear the casing if a leak occurs. Once the refrigerant has been recovered, a standard vacuum pump and scale will be sufficient.

Refrigerant recovery is not always straightforward and may often require turning the recovery unit off and waiting for any pressure within it to rise. During the winter months it is also important to be aware that often a second or third recovery may be required in order to ensure the process has been completed effectively.

At Robinsons all of our engineers are fully qualified to handle the refrigerant substances they come into contact with on a daily basis. If you would like to find out more about air-conditioning system maintenance and repairs or a refrigerant replacement, contact us today.

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