New regulations are setting the stage for a significant change in the world of refrigeration and cooling. By 2025, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to ban the use of certain HFC refrigerants under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. This gives the industry an urgent cue to pivot towards environmentally-friendly alternatives. Leading this green movement is Güntner, a company with a deep-rooted history in working with natural refrigerants, including carbon dioxide, ammonia, and hydrocarbons.
Understanding the New Norm
The AIM Act came to life in December 2020, with the primary objective of phasing down the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). HFCs have been recognized as potent greenhouse gases, showing a global warming potential (GWP) many times higher than carbon dioxide. Another cause for concern is their by-product, trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), which poses threats to marine ecosystems and human health.
The EPA’s announcement in December 2022 pointed to a ban on common high GWP HFC refrigerants. Starting January 1, 2025, there will be restrictions on the manufacture and import of products containing these HFCs, and by January 1, 2026, sales, distribution, and exports will also be impacted.
In addition to this, chillers and air conditioning units will face a 700 GWP cap. Retail refrigeration systems will be even more restricted, with a maximum GWP of 300. Some specific units, like certain stand-alone devices and supermarket systems, will be limited to an even tighter GWP cap of 150.
The Promise of Natural Refrigerants
Natural refrigerants, with their minimal to non-existent greenhouse emissions, present a sustainable and regulation-compliant alternative to HFCs. These substances are not only kinder to the environment, but they also align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, addressing climate action and protecting marine environments.
Given the global push to cut down greenhouse gas emissions (as seen in commitments like the Paris Agreement), the adoption of natural refrigerants seems like the next logical step. Moreover, with the AIM Act aiming for an 85% reduction in HFC production and use by 2036, and the potential for even stricter regulations down the line, relying on low GWP HFCs or other synthetic refrigerants could lead to significant future costs.
TL;DR: Due to the EPA’s upcoming bans on certain HFC refrigerants, the industry needs to pivot to greener alternatives. Güntner champions this shift with their expertise in natural refrigerants. These environment-friendly solutions are not only compliant with current regulations but are also poised to meet future, stricter standards, making them a smart and sustainable choice.