R12 replacement in existing equipment from 1996 to 1998

August 1998
Report on the Umweltbundesamt (German Federal Environmental Agency) No. 360 09 003
Winfried Schwarz
André Leisewitz

Von Within the 30 months from the end of December 1995, when the German Federal Environmental Agency announced substitute refrigerants for cfc R 12, to the end of June 1998, the operators of refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment with charges larger than 1 kg (except for stand-alone hermetics in which the refrigerant is cycled in an permanently closed loop) had to replace cfc 12 refrigerants. At the beginning 1996 the initial R 12 stock in the three main sectors of commercial refrigeration, mobile air-conditioning and centrifugal compressors was some 6740 t. Until June 1998 53% were replaced, on average. The substitution ratios of commercial refrigeration, mobile air-conditioning and centrifugal chillers show big differences. In the commercial refrigeration 64% of the R 12 initial stock were replaced: 45% by changing the refrigerant in old equipment, 19% by new equipment. The 1.29 million car air-conditioning systems with an initial R 12 stock of 1600 t were substituted by only 7% (112 t). These big differences are supposed to result from the differently severe risks of lacking R 12 refrigerant in commercial refrigeration and in car air-conditioning. In the commerce an equipment stop in consequence of leaked refrigerant could lead to losses of goods and of sales while the same incident for a car driver only means a restriction of his personal comfort. A wide R 12 replacement took place in centrifugal compressors, especially in office buildings and in the chemical industry, containing a total of 1000 t R 12 at the beginning of 1996. The substitiution ratio amounted to 84% (58% exchange in old equipment, 26% replacement by new equipment). The share of R 134a and other pure HFCs in refrigerant replacement figures 54% R 134a and 4% other HFCs, repectively. Drop-in refrigerants with the chorine-containing component R 22 providing technically easy replacement were used to 42%.