Low energy solutions and energy regulation compliance company, Inteb, has advised businesses not to be fazed by their R-22 phase out and to build this regulatory consideration into their thinking while scheduling the certification checks required by TM44 laws.

The removal of R-22 from air conditioning and refrigeration systems has been handled on a phased basis. Currently, only reprocessed R-22 can be used.   From the end of 2014, even its use as a recycled fluid will be banned, a move that has implications for those using plant reliant on R-22. It is, therefore, important to start planning strategies and plant replacement now. Inteb’s compliance manager, Amy Field, explains why: “Reprocessed R-22 is already in short supply and big demand. Nobody really knows whether there will be enough supply to keep up with demand or whether stocks will run out before the end of 2014.  It makes sense to start planning plant replacement now, assessing capital outlay costs and predicting the lower energy benefits that could accompany new plant. 

“With a new refrigerant such as R410A, a business could realistically expect an increase in efficiency of around one-third, which will mean lower energy consumption, reduced bills and a drop in CO2 emissions – important if a business is having to buy and report on carbon emissions. Our advice is to start thinking about replacing plant now, to phase in capital outlay, and to tie R-22 planning in with TM44 certification, so you can consult an expert about all your air conditioning and refrigeration requirements at once.”

R-22 is a hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) widely used in the food processing industry as a process chiller and industrial refrigerator, but also used with air conditioning systems.  It is an ozone-depleting greenhouse gas and production of it ceased in 2003. 

The advice is to start identifying all plant using HCFCs and to monitor the amount of refrigerant used when topping up. This indicates leakage rates and will form part of your compliance duties, checking for leakage.  For systems with an HCFC charge of 3kg (other than hermetically sealed systems labelled as such) the requirement is to test for leaks every 12 months. For 30kg or more, the test has to be done every six months. Over 300kg and the test is required at least every three months.

Most food industry plants need to be regularly checking for leaks due to the level of their HCFC charge.

Additionally, the law requires air conditioning systems with an output of over 12kW to have regular inspection by a trained Energy Assessor.  New certification is required every five years and demonstrates that you are compliant with European Directive legislation. Recent crackdowns by Trading Standards Officers have resulted in fines being handed out to those without up-to-date TM44 certification.

“Dealing with R-22 at the same time as TM44 makes sense”, explained Field.  “It is often best to look at the overall picture, analysing not just capital outlay, but beneficial impacts on energy consumption and lower energy costs, which can follow the introduction of new plant. Now is the time to act, as the R-22 legislation has real teeth and, where already introduced around the world, has resulted in criminal proceedings and jail sentences.  Energy legislation cannot be ignored, so we would urge all those affected to get their plant in order well ahead of compliance deadlines.”