Industries using imported ozone depleting HCFC refrigerants face escalating retrofit and recycling costs and should not be tempted to use illegal alternatives, warned leading industrial gases company Afrox.
The South African government has launched a campaign to clamp down on the smuggling of ozone depleting substances (ODSs) into the country and is pouring resources into training and equipping land, air and sea ports of entry to stamp out the trade in illegal refrigerants.
Smugglers use a number of methods including concealing the nature of the material by making false claims on import documents, mis-declaring or hiding ODSs completely. Customs and Enforcement Officers at sea ports and land border posts have now been trained and equipped with portable ODS detection analysers. Points of entry covered include Durban, Cape Town, East London, Port Elizabeth and Beitbridge.
In 2016, the DEA is training more officials to cover OR Tambo International Airport and border points at Lebombo, Kopfontein and Grobblersdal. The HVAC&R sector is one of the primary consumers of HCFCs in South Africa today and industrial gases company Afrox is a leading solutions provider through its new-generation low GWP Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) offer.
The HCFC R22 has been the refrigerant of choice for domestic and industrial refrigeration for decades owing to its excellent thermodynamic properties, said Afrox Product and Business Development Manager Chemicals and Refrigerants, Nadine Baird. Baird added: “In terms of the Montreal Protocol, of which South Africa is a signatory, local companies which currently import refrigerants containing virgin HCFCs have faced restrictions since 2013. “Businesses, particularly those who rely on refrigerants for their processes, must face this reality or face escalating costs for retrofitting and recycling. One ready-to-use solution is the Forane® 427A, developed by Arkema and distributed by Afrox in South-Africa and neighbouring countries.”
Arkema’s Forane® 427A is a new 100% HFC blend offering a simplified retrofit solution for existing R22 installations across a broad spectrum of applications, from air-conditioning to medium- and low-temperature refrigeration.
It offers a similar performance to R22, has no ozone depleting potential and a GWP of only 2138 (making Forane® 427A one of the lowest GWP among R-22 retrofit available solutions) and is therefore being welcomed as a viable alternative for use in R22 equipment. It is non-toxic and non-flammable, meeting the highest A1/A1 requirement on both counts, confirmed Baird.
“While being compatible with Polyolester (POE) lubricants, Forane® 427A is also unusually tolerant of high levels of residual AB or mineral oil, up to 10% or sometimes even 15% oil remaining after the changeover from R22,” said Baird. “Optimal performance close to R22 can be achieved without a long and costly rinsing process of the circuit and no modification of the installation is required. “Via our relation with Arkema, Afrox offers one of the most comprehensive range of alternative solutions on the world market and we believe the R22 alternatives they have engineered will provide the best solution for our South African refrigerant clients.”
“With the decline in virgin HCFCs being legally imported, South African users must look more closely at retrofitting machines or maintaining them with reclaimed product that has been cleaned to ARI700 specification,” said Baird. “It is acceptable to use recovered and recycled HCFCs like R22 until 2039, while users make the transition to alternative gases. “Afrox has geared up to offer a service to purify reclaimed refrigerants by collecting used refrigerant from our clients, supplying them with clean stock and then processing the used refrigerant through our proprietary refrigerant recovery and reclamation system, the ZugiBeast®.” The ZugiBeast® is a device that recovers and cleans refrigerant, removing the water, oils, acids, sludge and particulates which build up in refrigeration systems over time.
“This value added service outperforms any other known equipment in South Africa by a considerable margin,” confirmed Baird. “With this system we're able to treat all major refrigerants and contaminants. There is an additional benefit of improved productivity and power savings for our customers, since their machines work better on decontaminated refrigerant and cleaner heat transfer surfaces.”