Refrigerant Gas (R-22) Is Phasing Out: Possibly Costing You Money Along The Way

Published: 02nd April 2009
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As R22 refrigerant is phased out under federal regulations established by the United States and other countries worldwide, alternative substances have been identified. These alternatives are friendlier to the environment and more energy efficient. Among the commercial use refrigerants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency are ammonia, R404A and R407c.

Among the refrigerants approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use in commercial facilities are ammonia, R404A and R407c. The newer generation of refrigerants, classified as SNAP refrigerants, contain non of the negative effects of current HCFCs.

The conversion process is already underway among many organizations that own or operate heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC-R) systems to meet the 2015 phase out deadline. Other businesses are implementing measures to comply with tracking and reporting requirements required of existing systems containing R22 refrigerant gas.

Used extensively throughout the world, R22 refrigerant is vital to the operation of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC-R) systems installed in the majority of commercial and business facilities. It can also be found in process chiller and industrial refrigerant plants. The widespread use of the chemical is a paramount concern because when a leak occurs hydrochlorofluorocarbons are released. They are deemed harmful because they damage the ozone layer and contribute to global warming.

It is a monumental task for facilities to replace R22 refrigerant. For many, it means changing existing heating and cooling systems or installing new equipment, all with minimal interruption to business. When a HVAC-R system is serviced, technicians or the system owner must account for the removal, recapturing, and destruction of any refrigerant gas tracked under US EPA laws.

Under proposed amendments to a 2009 law (starting in California then perhaps nationally via the EPA), reporting requirements became stiffer. Companies using systems containing 50 pounds or more of R22 refrigerant must submit annual reports of its usage, service, and leaks, while facilities with larger systems have a more frequent reporting schedule and in some cases requirements on automatic leak detection equipment.

As a result of new environmental laws, managing the use of R22 refrigerant gas is more important than ever as government regulators can conduct unannounced spot checks to ensure tracking records comply with the reporting requirements. In the event that a HVAC-R system leaks refrigerant gas, an organization must record and document the servicing technician, the types of refrigerant used, the date of the service, and any amount of gas recovered. Many of the concerns laid out here are on top of the fact that the supply of R22 will be 20% below market demand by next year. In 2010, many organizations will find their supply of R22 much smaller.

Currently, the use of R22 refrigerant is banned in many areas of production, in household equipment and in certain types of vehicles. It is no longer being used in new refrigeration and air conditioning equipment being manufactured after 2010. By 2010, the use of new R22 refrigerant in the maintenance and servicing of existing refrigeration and air conditioning systems will be banned. After 2015, any business leveraging recycled refrigerant gas (i.e R22) will be restricted from using it in a select set of circumstances.

Under the U.S. Clean Air Act, businesses using R22 refrigerant must follow specific containment and management practices to recover and recycle the harmful gas during installation, service or retirement of a system. Many organizations turn to software programs and tracking applications to conduct this tedious task of maintaining service records, calculation refrigerant leak rates, and reporting electronically to the EPA or other legislative bodies.

R22 refrigerant is just one of many substances that have been identified by the United States and other countries as causing long-term harm to the ozone layer. More recently, these substances have shown to have global warming potential. The effort to phase out dangerous substances will help the world reach its unified goal of recovering the damage done to date to the ozone layer and improve the overall health of the environment for years to come.


Verisae specializes in refrigerant tracking and carbon emissions reporting. We can assist organizations across multiple locations and down to the asset level comply with the restrictions placed on R22 refrigerant gas. Visit - to research our refrigerant management solutions.

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