To the delight of refrigeration suppliers there has been what looks to be a panic attack among engineers and processors in our industry, which will only fuel price increases in R22 refrigerant.

Let's take a step back. In 1987 the Montreal protocol, an international environmental agreement, established requirements that began the worldwide phase-out of ozone-depleting CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons). These requirements were later modified, leading to the phase-out in 1996 of CFC production in all developed nations. In addition, a 1992 amendment to the Montreal Protocol established a schedule for the phase-out of HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons).

All non-compliant refrigerant must be eliminated by 31 December 2014, and only recycled refrigerant is acceptable for maintenance and servicing from 1 January 2010, raising concerns over availability and pricing of such material. However, a clear driver exists for customers to address non-compliant systems in the most cost effective way as soon as possible. Clearly, recycled refrigerant will be available for years to come.

Recently refrigeration producer DuPont said that 65% of cooling installations in nine European countries are still using R22. It went on to raise questions about how prepared the market was for phase-out, especially since 17% of respondents had no intention of complying with the ban.

Although many companies have undergone or are in the process of exchanging their R22 refrigerants, huge conversions still need to be made to ensure the 2015 deadline is accomplished without panic.

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