Phase-out of ozone depleting refrigerants (CFCs) began in 1987 with the establishment of the Montreal Protocol. The initial requirements were later modified, leading to the phase out in 1996 of CFC production in all developed nations. The most commonly used CFCs restricted by the Montreal Protocol include R11, R12 & R502

Further amendments in 1992 established a schedule for the phase-out of HCFCs. These are considerably less damaging to the ozone layer than CFCs, but still contain ozone destroying chlorine. Further modifications to the Montreal Protocol have been made to suit different countries.

Because of its stability and ease of use, R22 a HCFC, has been the mainstay for cooling and heat pump systems in air conditioning for more than forty years. Unfortunately, due to misuse by other industries and by unqualified personnel in this industry, releases of R22 have resulted in damage to the environment. The manufacture of R22 results in a by-product that also contributes significantly to global warning.

The phase-out of R22, in accordance with the terms of the Montreal Protocol, must be completed by January 1st 2004. At the same time the amount of all HCFCs must be reduced by 35%.

After January 1st 2010, manufacturers may still produce R22 for use in existing equipment, but not for use in new equipment. This means that manufacturers of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment systems will not be able to use existing supplies of R22 to produce new air conditioners and heat pumps.

These has been a race to find the idedal replacement for R22. Blends of available gases have been developed as HFCs. The common ones already in use in split systems are R407C and R410A. All of the HFC gases have some problems. For example, some are good for cooling but have problems in heating use.

Further restriction to the use of CFCs have been introduced by the EU. From the end of June 2002, manufacturers of split system air conditioners will no longer be able to import or make cooling only products using R22. Heat pumps will be subject to the same fate after a further 2 years, when the use of HCFCs in new products will have ceased. The heat pump can use R22 for longer due to the problems associated with the newer gases in heating.

The most popular HFC amongst manufacturers of air conditioning equipment is R410A. This is prefered over R407C which needs to be fully recovered and replaced from a system that has partially leaked. Making R407C wasteful and expensive.

The demand for R410A products in the UK has been tiny, despite some manufacturer's attempts to introduce it into the market. Prices are generally higher than the equivalent R22 product. For this reason CRMS will generally offer two optional prices where possible.

Where price is a serious consideration, the R22 option will offer the best economy. However due consideration needs to be given to the planned phase out of R22 within the EU, something that is subject to review and change at the discretion of the EU Parlaiment in Brussels.

R410A equipment is becoming increasingly more competetive and in some cases can be a similar price to R22 equipment. In these instances we would only offer an R410C system.

Whenever possible we strongly advise that a non-R22 system be selected in preference.

Corby Refrigeration, Gordon House, Dale Street, Corby, Northamptonshire, NN17 2BQ UK