In addition to the distribution of Mitsubishi Electric, LG and Toshiba equipment from its offices in Hemel Hempstead, the North West and Midlands, PACAIR also provides a full design service and decided to organise a bespoke gathering for consultants alongside its leak detection partner, Bacharach.
PACAIR Head Office
Units 1&2, The Heron Business Park
Herts HP2 7FW
T: 01442 254401
PACAIR North West
Suite 16-18, 112-114 Market Street
T: 01942 252888
Birmingham Business Park
T: 01215 165442
PACAIR specification manager Nick Ryman said the aim of the Mitigating the Impact of Refrigerants event was to look beyond leak detection in terms of compliance and focus on how environmental effect can also be reduced, at the same time as improving efficiency and performance for end users.
He said: “We wanted to start a discussion around leak detection because at the moment around 99% of what we do is based on legal compliance. That is clearly very important but we also wanted to show how we can minimise the environmental impact of refrigerants, as well as cutting maintenance costs and running costs.
“Systems utilising leak detectors with lower sensing points could be losing significant amounts of refrigerant over time, so there is the expense of replacement refrigerant. In terms of performance, all test data from manufacturers relates to systems charged with the right amount of refrigerant. Leaks can mean that systems can’t perform as intended at the published efficiencies.
“This wasn’t about selling more leak detection equipment, it was about helping to educate our customers. What consultants want is to talk to people who can give them honest, independent advice. Hopefully this event delivered that. We may not see any impact until a year or two down the line but we wanted to start the conversation.
“We learnt things as well, thanks to Bacharach, and there were definitely some thought-provoking discussions.’’
Nick opened the event with an overview of the EU F-Gas Regulation and the ongoing phase down of HFCs which began in 2015 and will cut availability by 79% by 2030.
Stationary refrigeration equipment running on HFCs with a GWP of 2500 or more will be banned from January 2020, while centralised refrigeration systems for commercial use with a capacity of 40kW or more that use F-Gases with a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 150 or more will follow from 1 January 2022. Single split air conditioning systems containing less than 3kg of F-gases with a GWP of 750 or more from will be phased out from 1 January 2025.
He said that with legislation around F-gases becoming more stringent, manufacturers are looking at alternative solutions, and added that the environmental impact of refrigerants can be controlled through the right leak detection system.
Bacharach sales director Karl Roberts told delegates the key drivers for leak detection systems included safety, environmental and economic considerations.
He explained how the F-Gas Regulation requires the mandatory installation of fixed leak detection systems to monitor refrigerant circuits containing charges equal to or greater than 500 tonnes equivalent of CO2 (CO2 e) of HFC and HFC/HFO blends. Installation of fixed leak detection reduces the required frequency of manual leak checks.
The recently revised Guidance Note 20 from the Institute of Refrigeration, meanwhile, says that refrigerants have a “practical limit” expressed in kg/m3 as specified in BS EN 378. If the charge of a refrigeration circuit in kg divided by the room volume in m3 exceeds the practical limit, then additional safety measures such as automatic detection will be required.
Karl also explored why leaks happen, from design and installation issues including poor brazing techniques, metal to metal contact and improper support; wear and tear because of vibration, thermal expansion or corrosion; or maintenance problems such as improperly tightened fittings or missing valve caps and seals.
Colin Anderson, Bacharach’s European sales distribution manager, went on to explain how to monitor for leaks through point detection/diffusion systems, or the more sensitive aspirated options.
The MGS-400 gas detection series is used to detect large leaks and has a typical alarm range of 1000 parts per million (ppm). The MVR-300 VRF system, meanwhile, is for use in occupied spaces, including hotel rooms or apartments, where the practical level could be exceeded.
Aspirated systems such as Bacharach’s HGM-MZ multi zone, meanwhile, draw samples from sensing points to the central unit and can detect much smaller leaks, with an alarm range of 1 ppm. The tubes to take samples can be split to 32 or even 48 points, with a maximum run length of 1200ft from central panel to sensing point. Among the potential advantages of this option are early detection, leading to a smaller amount of refrigerant required to top up leaking systems, and improved performance due to equipment being fully charged.
Karl Roberts said: “It is great to work with PACAIR on this project. We want to educate clients with the range of benefits available. They can then decide if leak detection is just about compliance, or they want more than that.’’
PACAIR plans to stage a similar event for consultants, looking at the potential advantages of community air source heat pumps.