The choice of low Global Warming Potential (GWP) alternatives for large refrigeration systems needs to widen to help the food processing industry argues Graham McDermott.

The need to make the switch to low GWP refrigerants to meet F-gas phasedown requirements has received a lot of media attention. It forms part of the latest revisions of the F-gas regulations which aim to reduce the use of fluorinated gases. With refrigeration playing such a key role in the food processing industry some producers and suppliers have already taken the message on board but others are still left left with some big decisions to make.

Unless you are a refrigeration expert, it is not easy to be sure you are making the right choice for your system. This year’s 37% cut in the quota for the production of virgin refrigerants is affecting supplies. Prices for the go-to refrigerant R404A have risen steeply as the amount of virgin refrigerant available on the market is reduced.

So far most of the research into alternatives with a low GWP has centered on gases more suited to smaller refrigeration systems, focusing on blended refrigerants which work well if you are maintaining or fitting systems in convenience stores, restaurants and installations of a similar scale.

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