GLOBAL provider of services and products to the shipping industry, Wilhelmsen Ships Service (WSS), has warned of price, supply and safety risks in the run-up to the global ban on R-22 (chlorodifluoromethane or HCFC) refrigerant, which is still said to be in use on between 6,000 and 8,000 vessels worldwide.
R-22 was outlawed throughout the EU in a process that ran from 2010 to January 1 2015. It is currently being phased out in the US where no new or imported R-22 will be permitted from January 1 2020. As part of the Montreal Protocol (MP) HCFC use will be phased out in member countries by 2030.
Technical Product manager Refrigeration at WSS, Svenn Jacobsen, said R-22 is a versatile and effective refrigerant gas that has served the shipping industry well, but it is fast approaching the end of the line.
"The compliance deadlines are approaching and this has, quite rightly, impacted tremendously on global production. As availability goes down price and supply risks go up, and this is potentially bad news for the owners of those remaining vessels that still use R-22."
Industry figures indicate that legal global R-22 production this year will be only 10 per cent of the volume produced in 1990. This weak supply and relatively strong demand will exert upward pressure on prices. Mr Jacobsen believes that, if ships are slow to switch to ozone friendly refrigerant alternatives, costs "could easily double over the course of the next year."
He explained: "When prices increase and/or availability shrinks, alternative and illegally produced products suddenly start appearing on the market. This is happening already, and will only increase with demand.
"Gases are being smuggled into countries, misdeclared and counterfeited. The consequences of this can be serious for vessels, catastrophic for equipment, with adulterated refrigerant causing poor mechanical performance and breakdown, and potentially deadly for individuals.
In the countdown to the global ban WSS is providing the market with Unicool R-22 synthetic HCFC refrigerant, in areas where this is still permissible. The gas is used in a variety of maritime refrigeration applications for low, medium and high temperatures (-40 to +16?C).
WSS said the features of Unicool include: all refillable cylinders are inspected prior to refilling; residue refrigerant recovered to prevent environmental damage; content is 100 per cent genuine refrigerant from approved producer; and conforms to ARI-700 purity standard.
Source : HKSG.