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HyChill Australia Pty Ltd general manager, Mario Balen, has raised questions about the government’s latest move to ban high GWP refrigerants in small air conditioning units.

The ban would apply to units with a refrigerant charge of up to 2.6kg and a GWP above 750. It would lead to an immediate ban of R410a.

Balen said the proposal would be a token improvement, pointing out the vast majority of systems imported into Australia today are already using R32.

“This proposal is a misstep in the right direction. The government is missing an opportunity to achieve real and lasting change,” he said.

“Instead the government has come up with this half-baked and belated idea which allows R32 to keep being used in perpetuity.

“Initially R32 was touted as a stop-gap measure until the ultimate refrigerant could be found.”

Balen said it is important to remember that R32 has a GWP of 675, which is unacceptably high, plus it is flammable and displays a higher level of toxicity to R410a.

He said technological solutions beyond R32 are available right now, specifically R290 refrigerant grade propane which has been used in small air conditioning systems for many years.

China and India are using R290-based units while the European Union (EU) has recently started the process of increasing the allowable charge of flammable refrigerants to AC systems from 150 to 500 grams, which will see even medium sized systems using R290 refrigerant.

“Taking all of this into account the federal government should mandate minimum efficiency levels so that low efficiency refrigerants such as R407C or R404 are banished from the market,” Balen said.

“That way the government could steer the market towards a clean, sustainable and efficient air conditioning industry that is environmentally responsible.”

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment is seeking feedback on the proposed ban by 26 July, 2021.

It is being managed by the Ozone and Climate Protection section of the department and comments can be emailed to:ozone@awe.gov.au

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