Technicians may not be aware of how quickly non-flammable refrigerant can become flammable during the recovery process.

With the refrigerant landscape changing so quickly Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA) is looking at ways to manage this new environment.

RRA general manager, Kylie Farrelley, said the HVACR industry must understand the risks associated with flammable mixes because what goes into a system may not be what is returned for destruction at end of life.

“The challenge we face is not knowing at what ratios and blends a mix becomes flammable at end of life, there is no software app to calculate this yet,” she said.

“We are working to develop software with like-minded groups internationally to address this problem.

“What we do know is that at 40 per cent concentrations some mixtures become flammable.”

Speaking at CCN Live 2020, Farrelley said the amount of flammable refrigerant received by RRA in 2019 was just short of 40 per cent and it is increasing every year.

“If you went to a R410a system and recovered the refrigerant it may not be R410a,” she said.

“We have found that 40 per cent of R32 and 60 per cent R134a is a flammable mix, while 40 per cent concentrations of other refrigerant is not.

“For example, 50 per cent of R32 and 50 per cent of R125 is non-flammable.”

Farrelley said work practices need to change immediately and this needs to be accompanied by a widespread education campaign.

“As we progress through the HFC phasedown many refrigerants will ultimately be flammable,” she said.

“We know flammables are coming through the supply chain now and the problem is going to increase rapidly.

“As an industry we need to rethink how unwanted gas is handled, stored and destroyed.”

RRA recommends using a gas analyser to identify what’s left in the system, especially when using a blend that starts with a four or a five.

In future wholesalers will provide a non-flammable recovery cylinder and a flammable recovery cylinder.

“My advice is to stay informed because this landscape is changing quickly,” Farrelley said.

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