Improved industry understanding of alternative products such as lower flammable A2L gasses and investment in reclamation is easing fears over the scarcity of established refrigerants.
“Aggressive price hikes” for higher GWP refrigerants that were witnessed last year have now stabilised due to increased levels of reclamation and a shift towards alternative products, A-Gas has said.
Enzo D’Alessio, director for the refrigerant supplier, said that a declining supply of virgin R404A on the market, as is intended under a quota system introduced as part of EU F-Gas regulation, has seen growing interest in reclamation of existing refrigerant product.
He said, “Under the quota system, the availability of recovered gases is having a significant effect on supplies to the market as reclaimed refrigerant is quota exempt.
Mr D’Alessio added that A-Gas has invested heavily into refrigerant reclamation and recovery facilities over several years. This funding has included the construction of a high capacity gas separator in Portbury.
The site is able to ensure that gas already on the market can be certified to the AHRI 700 standard for resupply outside of the quota system to continue to support sections of the industry that are yet to move over to an alternative refrigerant, according to Mr D’Alessio.
He added, “That said, market behaviour around reclaiming product appears to have changed, with users now keeping hold of recovered refrigerant that they would have otherwise returned.
“There are strict guidelines governing this and the reclaimed gas can only be used on the same premises and only once it has gone through a basic cleaning process.
Mr D’Alessio said that the company itself was selling less R404A, regardless of some challenges around reclamation. He argued this reflected how industry was beginning to understand the importance of the need to move over to new refrigerant and systems capable of handling them.
A-Gas said that the future for R404A was uncertain, even with installers and end users having no choice but to move to other gasses. The company also noted cuts within quota for R410A was also impacting the availability of a gas that was commonly used in pre-charged equipment.
Mr D’Alessio said that a predicted hike in prices for R410A should be expected, but that some viable alternatives did exist in the form of A2Ls gas. These are products with some level of flammability, albeit it at lower levels, and must therefore by used within specially designed commitment that is being made available by a range of suppliers.
Mr D’Alessio added that good progress had been made in moving towards adopting A2L refrigerant products, which will play a key part in easing pressure on contractors.
He said, “New refrigerants will continue to emerge to offer solutions for the installer and the end-user. It is no doubt a time of change and it is important that we stay open-minded to what may develop as we make the switch from high GWP gases to their low GWP alternatives.