French industry: Policy ignores ammonia as preferred choice

By Sabine Lobnig, Oct 13, 2008, 09:57 2 minute reading

At a meeting on 9 October, dedicated to the phase-out of R22 and its replacement with either new chemical fluids or natural refrigerants, proponents of both solutions clashed about issues of efficiency, safety and long term viability. The French cold storage industry attacked legislators for ignoring the industry’s preference for ammonia and other natural alternatives.

On 9 October, the French industry grouping AFCE (Alliance froid climatisation environnement) had invited policymakers, academics, and industry experts to discuss alternatives to R-22 in supermarket refrigeration and R134a in Mobile Air Conditioning.

The morning session of the workshop “Reglementation of Refrigerants, The End of R-22 & Low GWP refrigerants” was thus dedicated to the legal side of an early phase out of ozone-depleting CFCs. Thomas Verheye from the European Commission gave an update of current processes under the Montreal and the Kyoto Protocol to spur the transition to low Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerants. He highlighted the threat of HCFCs still growing in developing countries.

More importantly, Verheye stated that the F-Gases Regulation - outlining a series of stringent requirements for users of air conditioning, refrigeration and heat pump systems containing fluorinated gases - has already shown a positive impact compared to other parts of the world. In 2011, the European Commission will review the regulation to potentially copy the Montreal Protocol philosophy with caps and a complete phase out of HFCs to the F-Gases law. Work on the review will already start in 2009. Verheye insisted that a future global F-gas regulation led by the EU, and competitive low GWP alternatives, including ammonia and CO2, would be most effective tools to spur the phase out of CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs.

Ammonia vs. chemical industry

The afternoon session was dedicated to alternative solutions technically ready to replace R22 in the refrigeration sector. Speaking on behalf of USNEF, the French member of the European Cold Storage and Logistics Association (ECSLA), Jean-Eudes Tesson openly attacked French legislators for ignoring the industry’s preferences for natural refrigerants. While other countries would naturally move towards ammonia and other sustainable solutions, the situation in France would be worsened by opponents of these highly efficient alternatives:

“The guilty party: Chemical companies lobbying to prevent ammonia,” Tesson went on, accusing chemical makers of having “decided to kill ammonia”. In the future, only NH3 or CO2 should be applied in the cooling industry, having much better efficiency that would pay off for slightly higher initial investment costs. The present change of refrigerant, although a revolution for the industry, would hence put it in a better situation for the next 10 years.

About AFCE

The Alliance Froid Climatisation Environnement is a grouping of the refrigeration and air conditioning industry. Its major goals are the implementation of a sustainable approach towards environmental problems, and develop technical and organisational skills to operate within the framework of the UN Climate Change programmes.


By Sabine Lobnig

Oct 13, 2008, 09:57

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