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UK:  As you will be aware, there is about to be a full ban on the marketing and use of ozone depleting substances for the servicing of RAC equipment. As the government’s regulatory authority for the Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases and the Ozone Depleting Substances Regulations in England, the Environment Agency is issuing a final publicity campaign to raise awareness prior to the deadline at midnight, 31-December 2014.

Important information for operators of equipment containing HCFCs - including R22

Since 01 January 2010 it has been illegal to use virgin HCFCs to service refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) equipment.

NEW: From 01 January 2015 it will be illegal to use any HCFCs to service RAC equipment. This includes the use of recycled and reclaimed HCFCs.

What is changing?

It has previously been legal to use recycled and reclaimed HCFCs to service RAC equipment. From 01 January 2015 this will no longer be the case. It will be illegal and an offence to use any HCFC gas to top-up or maintain RAC equipment. The most commonly used gas that is included in this ban is HCFC-22, often known as R22.

Existing equipment that contains HCFCs can legally continue to be operated after 01 January 2015, but you cannot add additional HCFC gas to the system to maintain its function.

What you need to do

You must act now to ensure that any business-critical systems are prepared for the phase-out. From 01 January 2015 these systems will need to be able to operate with alternatives to HCFC. Please ask your RAC contractor for advice on alternatives available that best suit your system.

To enable them - and you - to make the best decision, the following information will be useful:

  • System type
  • Equipment age
  • Condition of the equipment
  • Meeting current requirements and future restrictions under the F-gas Regulations
  • Energy efficiency
  • Availability of alternative gases

Additional obligations

The ODS legislation also includes further existing obligations for the operators of HCFC systems:

  1. Undertakings shall take all precautionary measures practicable to prevent and minimise any leakages and emissions of controlled substances.
  2. Undertakings operating stationary RAC systems containing HCFCs must ensure that leak checks are carried-out at the following frequencies:
  • Equipment containing 3kg or more must be checked for leakage at least once every 12 months; this shall not apply to equipment with hermetically sealed systems, which are labelled as such and contain less that 6kg of HCFC;
  • Equipment containing 30kg or more must be checked for leakage at least once every 6 months;
  • Equipment containing 300kg or more must be checked for leakage at least once every 3 months;

Any detected leakage must be repaired as soon as possible and in any event within 14 days.

The equipment or system shall be checked for leakage within one month after a leak has been repaired to ensure that the repair has been effective.

  1. Undertakings operating stationary RAC systems with a HCFC charge of 3kg or more shall maintain records on the quantity and type of HCFC added and recovered during servicing, maintenance and final disposal of the equipment. They shall also maintain records of other relevant information including the identification of the company or technician who performed the servicing or maintenance, as well as the dates and results of the leakage checks carried out. These records shall be made available on request to the competent authority and to the Commission.​
  2. The EU Ozone Regulation allows Member States to define the minimum qualification requirements for the personnel carrying out the above activities.

Currently the following qualifications are valid to work on equipment containing HCFCs in Great Britain:

  • City and Guilds 2078 (HCFC only)
  • City and Guilds 2079 - a Category I or II qualification (HCFC and HFC) o Construction Skills J01 (HCFC and HFC)
  • Construction Skills J11 (HCFC and HFC)
  • Construction Skills J12 (HCFC and HFC)

Further information

Updated guidance relating to the new F-gas legislation will shortly be available on the GOV.UK website.

In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding the HCFC phase-out, please contact the Environment Agency F-gas Helpdesk:

Email: f-gassupport@environment-agency.gov.uk

Telephone: 03708 506 506 and ask to speak to Christopher Summers or Richard Troup

Source: ACRIB

 

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EUROPE:  The new F Gas Regulations which come into force on 1st January 2015 place restrictions on the use of certain HFC refrigerants in certain applications.  R404A has a GWP of 3922 and is therefore in the group of refrigerants with a GWP >2500 which will be most affected by the new regulations.  The key parts of the regulation that will have a major impact on the use of R404A are;

1/ From 2018 there will be a significant phase down in the amount of HFCs placed on the market. This reduces the supply of HFCs from the 100% level of 2015, to just 21% of that total in 2030, with a major cut of 37% in 2018.

2/ From 2020 there will be a ban on the use of refrigerants with a GWP of 2500 or more in new stationary refrigeration equipment, except that intended for application designed to cool products to temperatures below – 50 °C

3/ From 2020 there will be a ban on the use of refrigerants with a GWP of 2500 or more for service and maintenance of refrigeration equipment where the charge size is greater than 40 Tonnes CO2 equivalent (approximately 10kg of R404A). There are exemptions for military applications and or systems intended to cool below -50°C product temperature.

4/ Until 2030 the use of reclaimed and recycled R404A for service and maintenance is allowed

5/ From 1st January 2015 Leak Detection requirements have changed from 3kg, 30kg and 300kg thresholds to 5T, 50T and 500T CO2Eq. From 1st January 2015 a R404A system with a charge of 127kg or more will also need automatic fixed leak detection.

Future availability of R404A

The phase down of HFC refrigerant has been derived from a baseline of HFCs placed on the market in 2009- 2012 in CO2 equivalent tonnes calculated from the GWP of the various refrigerants. In 2016 and 2018 the quantities allowed to be placed on the market are reduced by 7% and 37% from the baseline. Furthermore in 2017 pre-charged equipment from outside the EU must be included within the quota for the first time, which may account for as much as 10% of use. This part of the regulation does not ban any refrigerant but the total amount placed on the market in a year must remain within the maximum allowed. Those allocated quota to place on the market are limited to supply a total amount of CO2 eq Tonnes, but are able to decide what product mix they wish to supply. In simplistic terms this means it is possible to supply larger quantities of lower GWP refrigerants than higher GWP refrigerants such as R404A. 

It is not known precisely what effect the reductions in quota will have on the supply of R404A in 2016, 2017 and 2018, except that the overall use of high GWP refrigerants such as R404A will need to reduce significantly during that period and cannot continue at current levels. This can be achieved by a number of measures. Better leak prevention and detection, a move away from the use of R404A in new equipment to lower GWP refrigerants and conversion of existing systems. The speed at which this happens will determine the effect the phase down will have on those still needing to buy R404A in 2017 and 2018.

Should you be using R404A in New Equipment?

Anyone installing equipment with R404A now will probably have to retrofit to a lower GWP refrigerant in the next few years, this is likely to be before the end of the natural working life of the system. You should consider carefully therefore whether it makes economic sense to use R404A in new equipment and strongly consider equipment that uses lower GWP alternatives.

What other Refrigerants have a GWP over 2500

Whilst this guidance note relates to R404A, as it is the most prevalent gas used in refrigeration applications, most of the comments also apply to all refrigerants with a GWP>2500. These are R507, R422A, R422D, R434A and R428A.

What should end users or suppliers do now?

ACRIB advises that you seek the views of the equipment manufacturers, refrigerant producers and suppliers about the effect quotas may have on their ability to supply R404A in future and the suitability of lower GWP alternatives available for the application in question.  

Some useful documents with more information:

•   The full text of the new regulation including the ban details

•   Epee (European Partnership for Energy and the Environment) Guidance

•   AREA (European contractors association) guidance document for contractors

•   The ACRIB website has news and updates www.acrib.org.uk - if you register we will send information when available. The GWP of refrigerants as defined by F-Gas 517/2014 can be found in this ACRIB document

•    Government F GAS Support Website www.defra.gov.uk/fgas and helpline

•    A useful Guide to F Gas from compressor manufacturer BITZER

•    The  2014 European F Gas Regulation 517/2014 is directly applicable in UK law. The full text of the 2014 European F Gas Regulation is available here

To download a pdf version of the guidance click here

ACRIB is an umbrella organisation for the UK RACHP industry comprising trade associations and professional institutes: AMDEA, ARC, B&ES, BFFF, CIBSE, CRT, FETA, FSDF, IOR.  It provides the ACRIB Skillcard scheme for the recognition of individual operative qualifications in working with the full range of refrigerants. For more information see www.acrib.org.uk

 

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EUROPE:  The European association of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump contractors’ AREA, has updated its Guidance on the minimum requirements for contractors’ training & certification, when working with low-GWP Refrigerants.

The guidance paper sets out the basic competence requirements for RACHP contractors and training recommendations for dealing with low-GWP refrigerants.

Whilst AREA acknowledge HFC refrigerant handling certification is the basis for engineers to handle refrigerants, training should be taken in respective of working with low-GWP refrigerants, ammonia (R717), carbon dioxide (R744) and hydrocarbons (HCs).

The guide now includes an Annex II, listing training facilities in the UK and Europe, and provides web addresses and information on the type of training the organisations listed provide, by type of low-GWP refrigerant.

As a reminder, the new F-Gas Regulation requires that Member States ensure the availability of training for natural persons who wish to update their knowledge, notably on technologies to replace or reduce the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

The revised guidance document is available to download here

About AREA

AREA (www.area-eur.be) is the European organisation of refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump (RACHP) contractors. Established in 1988, AREA voices the interests of 21 national members from 19 European countries, representing more than 9,000 companies across Europe (mainly small to medium sized enterprises), employing some 125,000 people and with an annual turnover approaching €20 billion.

AREA members are the designers of RACHP systems, which they also install, service and maintain. For this purpose, RACHP contractors use every available solution with complete neutrality towards equipment and refrigerants, with the sole aim of ensuring the highest level of reliability, energy efficiency and cost- effectiveness. 

 

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UK:  Pipe Center, the UK’s leading heating and building services supplier, has published a new and improved version of its product guide.

The 480-page publication contains up-to-date technical information and prices for all its key product lines, including heating systems, pipe and supports, valves and materials, plus tools and safety equipment.

The user-friendly guide includes information to help installers identify the correct system for each application, with advice on equipment sizing, pipework and ancillaries. It includes technical schematics and official performance ratings to help customers match systems to specific projects.

It also includes updated information on the company’s Value Added Services (VAS), including: Valvestock, which provides bespoke valve and actuator assembly; Fabrication, which offers tailor-made design and construction of pipework for large and special projects; and Custom Build, which specialises in the design and build of refrigeration systems. In addition, a new section on drainage has been added.

Andy McEwan, commercial director of Pipe Center and Climate Center, says: “Everyone today is conscious of the importance of providing cost-effective solutions that deliver for the environment, end users and building occupants. With its up-to-date technical information, sizing charts and application data, the new guide is an indispensable tool for installers and contractors – both in the field and the office.”

Copies of the new guide are available from Pipe Center branches across the UK, and a digital copy can be downloaded from the company’s website at: http://brochures.pipecenter.co.uk/PDFFiles/PipeCenter/CLC%20PIPE%20GUIDE%202014-Web1.pdf

Pipe Center is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of heating, pipe and related products to the commercial and industrial building services industry. With an unrivalled product range, extensive branch network and expert technical support, Pipe Center provides an outstanding service to contractors across the UK. For further information, go to: www.pipecenter.co.uk.

 

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EUROPE:  The European association of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump contractors (AREA) have published a comprehensive and practical guide on the application of the new F-Gas Regulation to refrigeration, air conditioning & heat pump contractors.

The guide provides details of the new obligations for both operatives and companies, that in the event of a leak being detected it is now an obligation to have it repaired without undue delay, with definition.

The guide also includes a table on leak check frequencies based on CO2-equivalent, converted to kg quantities, of fluorinated greenhouse gases for the most commonly used refrigerants, and a flow chart of the leak check procedure.

Although under the new F-Gas regulation training and certification remain largely unchanged, the guide provides details of who needs to be certified, equipment task procedures and the undertaking of companies.

The guide also provides details of

  • Record keeping
  • Refrigerant recovery
  • Equipment bans & excemptions
  • Delivery of F-Gases & responsibilities of distributors/installers
  • Sale of pre-charged equipment
  • Labelling of recycled/reclaimed refrigerant
  • Service & maintenance ban
  • Pre-charging of equipment
  • Phase-down scheme of HFCs & allocation of quotas

AREA say that the guide is a living document that will be updated and completed following experience and notably after the adoption of implementing legislation.

To view or download the full guide click here

 

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UK:  Toshiba Air Conditioning has published a comprehensive Technical Handbook for engineers, as part of its programme of training and support for the industry.

The 80-page compendium is designed to be an indispensable guide for engineers carrying out air conditioning installations, commissioning and maintenance, and covers 39 key topics in relation to Toshiba equipment and systems.

It includes mechanical and performance specifications for equipment, acoustic data, help with identifying fault codes, refrigerant pipe sizing, and detailed guidance on commissioning and system set-up.

There is guidance on calculating additional refrigerant charge required by VRF air conditioning systems, and a step-by-step guide to wiping and/or readdressing existing VRF installations.

Given the rapid advances in control and monitoring and the development of sophisticated data gathering and analysis tools, it also has useful guidance for engineers on how to retrieve data from systems and remote controllers.

Efficient data retrieval enables engineers to quickly pinpoint potential problems, and can highlight opportunities to optimise systems to further improve energy efficiency and performance.

A section on energy saving outlines how systems can be set-up to to self-regulate, to reduce running costs for end users and minimise carbon emissions to protect the environment.

David Dunn, general manager of Toshiba Air Conditioning, says: “Today’s air conditioning systems are extremely sophisticated and are designed with features that are light years ahead of the systems of a few years ago. To get the most out of them, it is obviously important to ensure engineers have clear guidance on how they work and how to set them up correctly.

“The new guide brings together a huge amount of information, and provides an essential guide for contractors and installers that they can keep in the van and take with them on site.”

As well as being published in hard copy form, the Handbook is also available to signed up members as a digital download via the company’s website.

To download the handbook, sign in or register at http://www.toshiba-aircon.co.uk/business-lounge/support/sales-tools/technical-support-tools

About Toshiba Air Conditioning

Toshiba Air Conditioning is a division of Toshiba Carrier UK Ltd, company registration No 3723803. Toshiba Air Conditioning provides sustainable solutions integrating energy efficient products for residential and light commercial customers.

 

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Most cooling towers work on the basis that ambient air is drawn over a flow of warm water, which causes some of it to evaporate and be absorbed by the airflow.

The heat required to evaporate this water is derived from the water itself. This action causes the water to cool. The net result is that the air leaving the tower is saturated with water vapour and sometimes droplets whilst the remaining water leaving the cooling tower has been cooled. This process is known as evaporative cooling.

A mechanical fan system draws air from the bottom of the tower, through the fill, assisting with the heat exchange process before then exhausting it into the atmosphere. A simple process but one which can often cause serious health and safety issues.

Part of the process of drawing air into the tower also brings with it airborne debris such as seeds, leaves and insects. This debris will settle in the fill pond and gradually rot to produce a sludge which provides a nutrient source for bacteria. In some cases this build up of debris can lead to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease; a potentially fatal pneumonia caused by droplet inhalation of water contaminated by Legionella pneumophila bacteria. The bacteria can multiply in conditions where temperatures are between 20-45°C and nutrients are readily available.

In order to minimise the risk of Legionnaires’ disease and comply with the requirements of the Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) L8, a regular cooling tower chemical treatment should be performed in order to clean and disinfect the system. This cleaning process removes fouling that can provide favourable environmental growth conditions for Legionella bacteria.

The normal process involves cooling tower chlorination which involves additional bio-dispersant, physical cleaning and then further post chlorination before the system is returned safely to service.

This maintenance is part of a programme that will involve the sampling and testing of water at regular intervals and is completed by specialist contractors.

Increased debris will increase the nutrient source and allow the bacteria to multiply exponentially.

Prevention is better than a cure therefore the best way to reduce the build up of debris is to stop it from being drawn into the air intake system in the first place.

Air intake filter screens, such as those manufactured by Permatron, can be located on the exterior of a cooling tower. This provides an external filter to minimise the impact of airborne debris in the vicinity.

As air is drawn through the air intake filter screen, it creates an electrostatic charge that attracts and traps airborne debris. The screens improves laminar air flow and reduces the sludge build up dramatically. Air filter screens are the first line of defence when it comes to reducing the risk of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease. Furthermore, the use of air filter screens reduces the use of chemicals and can reduce maintenance schedules by as much as 60%.

For further information about how air filter screens are improving the efficiency of HVAC equipment and protecting cooling towers from the potential lethal build up of bacteria, contact RAB Specialist Engineers Limited.

www.rabse.com

This article was produced by Richard Betts, Managing Director at RAB Specialist Engineer

 

Bio:  Richard has worked in the M&E Building Services industry for over 35-years.

In 1994 Richard formed ECEX, focusing on the M&E Building Services market and specilaising in procurement and supply of sub-contract labour to the industry. In 2012 Richard sold his interests in ECEX and formed a new business, RAB Specialist Engineers which focuses on the supply of air intake filter screens, ductwork, insulation & pipework, and key areas of building maintenance. 

 

 

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UK:  The Building Services Research and Information Association (BSRIA) has released a new guide - Safety in Building Services Design, intended for use by designers, providing guidance on designing for safety for new build and refurbishment projects. 

BSRIA says, "Space, and the cost of providing space, for plant and building services distribution is at a premium and designers often come under pressure to reduce the spatial requirements for building services installations. In order to discharge their obligations, designers must take considerable care to provide safe means of access for installation, maintenance and equipment replacement."

     

    The guide includes information on,

    • Relevant legislation including CDM
    • Hazards and risks
    • Space requirements and access provision
    • Maintenance
    • Plant room design
    • Communication

    The guide is available in hard copy or digital download and is available to non-members of BSRIA for £60

    BSRIA is also launching a new Safety in Building Services Design training course on 12th November 2014, where delegates will receive a free copy of the new guide.

    You can purchase the guide by clicking here

    Fridgehub is a major new industry resource, information and directory service for consumers of Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump equipment, products and services.

    Stay in touch with the latest industry developments - Register here

    To find out more visit – Fridgehub for Consumers or Fridgehub for Industry

    UK:  The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB) have today issued an update on training requirements under the F-Gas Regulations as there is said to have been some confusion amongst training providers on the issue of re-certification and requirements from 2015.

    DEFRA and the Environmental Agency have confirmed existing individual F-Gas Certificates issued in accordance with the 2006 F Gas Regulations remain valid under the new 2014 Regulation EC517/2014 (article 10 paragraph 7).

    This will be a great relief for the 30,000 or so UK operatives who are already F-Gas Qualified in the UK.

    However those certificates only remain valid “in accordance with the conditions under which they were originally issued” which means that if your certificate has an expiry date, you will need to undertake a reassessment. Reassessments are now available for those holding expired CITB Certificates.  For those holding City & Guilds 2079 (or relevant units within the 7189 or 6187 qualifications) no reassessment is necessary.

    The UK, like all member states, has an obligation to ensure that any F-Gas certificates issued in future cover the changes that have been introduced by the 2014 Regulations – such as the different leak checking requirements and knowledge of the phase down timetable and new specific bans - some of which come in from January 2015.  Both the CITB and City & Guilds F Gas Certificates will be updated in line with the changes to the knowledge element of the assessment in the required timescale so that anyone new to the industry taking their F Gas Certificate is up to date.

    There are still a number of uncertainties in the 2014 F-Gas Regulation on which UK Government and industry is awaiting clarification on. For example the requirement for already F gas Certified individuals to have access to information regarding technologies to replace HFCS, and existing regulatory requirements for alternative refrigerants.  There is also a clause in the new Regulations that says Member States have to make available training for anyone who wants to update their knowledge.  The Commission is planning to carry out a review of existing legislation covering training for the safe-handling of alternative refrigerants and, if appropriate, submit a legislative proposal. The results of this review are expected in 2017. 

    The 2014 European F-Gas Regulation 517/2014 is directly applicable in UK law.  However UK legislation is needed to cover the compliance and enforcement measures.  A draft of that legislation, which will repeal the previous UK F Gas Regulation, is due for consultation this autumn.  The full text of the 2014 European F Gas Regulation is available at http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2014.150.01.0195.01.ENG

    Further guidance on how the new F Gas changes will impact end users and contractors is being prepared by ACRIB and by European Contractors’ association AREA and will be available shortly. Check http://www.acrib.org.uk for updates and come to the ACRIB F Gas update conference on 11th November in London. 

    About ACRIB

    ACRIB is an umbrella organisation for the UK RACHP industry comprising trade associations and professional institutes: AMDEA, ARC, B&ES, BFFF, CIBSE, CRT, FETA, FSDF, IOR.  It provides the ACRIB Skillcard scheme for the recognition of individual operative qualifications in working with the full range of refrigerants. For more information see www.acrib.org.uk

    Related Articles:

     

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    UK:  The CITB have announced the launch of a reassessment option for operatives that have an expiring or expired CITB (J11– J14) refrigerant handling certificate.

    Following the introduction of (EU) Regulation 517/2014 on 16 April 2014 which supersedes (EC) Regulation 842/2006 (commonly known as the F-Gas Regulation) CITB has taken the opportunity to update its assessment criteria to reflect the changes that will take effect from 1 January 2015.

    CITB now provides an option for operatives undertaking an F gas qualification for the first time (Initial assessment) and for those that are renewing an expiring or expired CITB certificate (Reassessment).

    Reassessment is also open to those operatives holding a valid City & Guilds 2079 certificate who may want to take advantage of additional training and assessment to bring them up to date with current legislation.

    The reassessment option has been designed and streamlined to focus specifically on the legislation and practice changes since they were last trained and/or assessed and reassess key skills in accordance with the minimum requirements for certification programmes laid down in Regulation (EC) No 303/2008; it will typically be undertaken in two days.

    The Introduction of ‘MOT’ style Certificates

    To provide businesses and operatives with the flexibility to plan ahead and also maintain certification validity CITB have introduced an initiative that allows an operative to undertake an expiring (J11– J14) assessment up to six months prior to the expiry of the existing certificate.

    To benefit from this new arrangement operatives will need to present to the approved CITB refrigeration centre their original (not a photocopy) expiring certificate. Operatives may undertake reassessment up to six months in advance of an existing certificate expiring and upon successful completion will receive an MOT style certificate.

    Example: A current certificate expires on 1/7/2015; reassessment may be undertaken at any time between 2/1/2015 and 1/7/2015. If the reassessment was undertaken on the 2/1/2015 the new certificate would be valid until 1/7/2020 (Five years and six months).

    Legal Requirement

    It is now a criminal offence to carry out activities that install, maintain or service stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning and/or heat pump equipment containing or designed to contain F-Gas refrigerants without a Company Certificate. Operatives who carry out work activities that do not hold a current recognised qualification will compromise their company certificate. Companies who use sub-contractors must ensure that valid engineer qualifications are held before using either them as subcontract companies or subcontract personnel.

    For further information on CITB (J11-14) Refrigerant Handling Schemes and a list of approved Training and Assessment centres please click here or you can view and download the full list of CITB approved centres here

    For further information on CITB Refrigeration Schemes and a list of approved Training and Assessment centres please click here.

    Related Articles:

    Summary of F-Gas Regulations – Key Dates [Fridgehub Infographic]

    RACHP Training & Qualifications (UK) A guide to selecting the right course for you

     

    Fridgehub, providing information and resources to Refrigeration, Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Suppliers, Contractors and Retail Business Operators