When it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions no other industry can compare with refrigeration and air conditioning and much of this success can be attributed to Australian technicians, according to Michael Bennett of Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA).
Speaking at CCN Live 2019 last week, Bennett said that from 1990 to 2017 the HVACR industry reduced emissions by 80-90%.
“And it doesn't stop there, we will reduce emissions by another 80% by 2036,” he said.
“No other industry sector has come even close to this, it's a remarkable achievement.”
Bennett said leakage rates from systems installed in Australia have dropped from 30% in 1990 to 6% today.
Back in the year 1990 Bennett said 90% of emissions came from leaking R12. These days split systems leak less than 1% and stationary systems 3-4%.
Bennett said the reduced leakage can be attributed to a range of factors from from better design and improved maintenance to greater awareness and training.
He said RRA started in 1993 and has safely disposed of seven and a half thousand tonnes of refrigerant.
“All this has been recovered by conscientious, hard working technicians mostly reclaiming at less than one kilogram at a time; so its an incredible effort by a lot of people,” Bennett said.
Australia's successful recovery rates haven't gone unnoticed overseas with the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) in the United States inviting RRA to work on a pilot program in a bid to improve recovery rates by American technicians.
“We currently recover around 500 tonnes of refrigerant per annum but if we want to progress past this point we need to do a few things differently; we need to recover refrigerant from split systems,” Bennett said.
The bank of refrigerant in Australia today is five times larger than it was in 1990.
More than 52,000 tonnes of refrigerant is currently installed in Australia with more than half of that figure used in air conditioning, mostly split systems. Plus, the bulk of this refrigerant is 410A.
“There are about one million split systems installed every year so eventually that's one million systems that have to come out; how much refrigerant is left in them at end of life? We don't know,” he said.
“Obviously we are keen to find out so we have launched a project that encourages technicians to provide this information when they uninstall or replace a system.”
RRA is currently recruiting technicians for this project so interested parties shouldn't hesitate to make contact.
The RRA has also produced a series of recovery videos for apprentice technicians and created an augmented reality training program that can be used on any device.
“It is very much like a game and teaches young people how to build recovery systems,” Bennett said.
The CCN Live speaker program was sponsored by Refrigerants Australia. For full coverage of the CCN Live 2019 event check out the November edition of CCN Magazine.