Monday, June 17, 2013

Renewed interest in HC heat pumps in Europe – exclusive interview with D. Colbourne

The increasing availability in Europe of optimised R290 compressors for heat pumps is reviving interest in the technology. During the UNIDO ATMOsphere Technology Summit, interviewed Mr. Daniel Colbourne, Consultant at Re-phridge, about the historical development of hydrocarbon (HC) heat pumps and the current state of play in Europe. In the 1990s there were several hydrocarbon-based heat pump products for domestic application in the EU market, which subsequently disappeared. What in your view might have caused this?

Daniel Colbourne: There were many hydrocarbon (HC) heat pump products on the European market; Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia and Germany, mainly from small and medium sized producers. But the EU Pressure Equipment Directive (PED) was introduced which basically states that the components and piping in the refrigeration system must be designed, tested and approved for that particular refrigerant (or refrigerant “group”). The PED requirements for flammable refrigerants are one level above those for the non-flammable, low toxicity fluid “group”, which includes refrigerants like R22.

Previously many companies were taking R22 compressors and adapting them for use with R290. So when the PED came into force it essentially meant that they could no longer utilise those R22 compressors; i.e., they could only use R290 compressors for R290. At the time there were no manufacturers producing the right type of R290 compressors and, since in order to certify compressors for R290, additional approval processes are necessary (which in some cases are costly), the size of the market was evidently not sufficient for manufacturers to justify it. For example, the person that is welding the compressors has got to have a higher level of certification, which implies additional investments for the compressor manufacturers.

So the heat pump manufacturers apparently had little choice, all they could do was to switch to an alternative which was not a flammable refrigerant. I would say that was the main reason for the decline. Given the extensive literature demonstrating the comparatively higher efficiency of R290 and the excellent safety record, it was not performance or hazardous aspects that were responsible.

A number of manufacturers continued with some R290 models (and still do today) in particular for smaller capacity units where R290 hermetic compressors normally used for commercial refrigeration are suitable. Nonetheless, this represents a relatively small portion of the market. In terms of performance and reliability, how were these R290 products performing?

Colbourne: With regards to reliability, when R22 compressors were initially used there were some problems. However, a study presented by a major German player on the development of their R290 heat pumps in 1999 stated that after optimisation of the compressor oil, the reliability of their R290 heat pumps was better than that of their R22 heat pumps. Of course, many companies are currently selling R290 heat pumps, which would not be the case were there reliability issues.

Throughout that period there were many studies published on the efficiency of hydrocarbons in heat pumps and most of them said that R290 performance was at least as good, typically much better than the other alternatives (for space heating purposes). Both the large volume of technical literature and publications from different manufacturers support this. Furthermore, when considering the thermophysical properties of HCs, it is fairly obvious; not only do the thermodynamic properties demonstrate this but also the excellent viscosity and thermal conductivity infers better component performance than most other fluorinated alternatives. More recently do you see a renewed interest in the use of hydrocarbons in heat pumps by European manufacturers?

Colbourne: In general we can see increasing pressure to use heat pumps in Europe as they are seen as a means for accelerating CO2 emission reduction. Within this context it seems rather daft to not use low-GWP refrigerants or particularly natural refrigerants for those types of products where they can be used. There are a fairly large number of manufacturers within Europe (but also Australia and China) that are currently using HCs (as well as other natural refrigerants). In this respect there is increasing interest in some quarters, but of course others are also resisting.

The safety issue is surely already addressed, since relevant safety regulations and standards are available and have been for many years. Heat pump manufacturers often state that the reason they do not offer HC-based heat pumps is that they cannot find optimised HC compressors or other components for the purpose. What would you recommend to the industry for overcoming this barrier?

Colbourne: On the compressor side, at least two major compressor manufacturers are now producing compressors specifically designed and optimised for R290 heat pump systems, implying that this barrier is now becoming resolved. Moreover, there are several companies that make other components, such as controls for hydrocarbons that can be used in heat pumps. These enterprises obviously see that there is a market and they would not invest large sums in the technology unless they had confidence in it.

Beware of Flammable R-22a Refrigerants!

June 12, 2013
With the phaseout of the refrigerant R-22, dangerous replacements are surfacing. Steer clear of purchasing highly flammable products sold that are listed in a form of 22a Refrigerant, as the gas can burn or even explode when in contact with an ignition source.

There is great concern over the flammability of these products, when used as a refrigerant in air conditioning equipment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) that maintains lists of acceptable refrigerants in listed applications. EPA has issued some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) regarding these R-22a products, click here to read these FAQ’s.

These products could pose significant safety risks to homeowners and technicians. Unknowing homeowners who have used this product may have created an exposure to fire or explosion should a leak be present in the home. Technicians that have not been informed of the use of these products face similar risks in that their service equipment is not designed for these products. Inadvertent mixing of recovered gases may contaminate a contractor’s bulk recovery cylinder forcing disposal of the product in place of reclaiming.

There are many approved replacement refrigerants being marketed today; contractors should carefully consider the products they wish to use. For a list of EPA approved alternate refrigerants for residential air conditioning, click here.

Remember, it is illegal for anyone to intentionally mix refrigerants in equipment or to intentionally vent refrigerant to the atmosphere. Use alternate refrigerants wisely; do not top off a system with an alternate refrigerant.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Coming to America

U.K.'s A-Gas Plans Expansion Into North America

A-Gas’s acquisitions in the U.S. will set it up for a significant expansion into North America, including the international rollout of its refrigerant reclamation technology.
This year, A-Gas celebrates its 20th year in business, but no time in those two decades has been quite as busy as last year. The past 12 months have seen intense activity as the Bristol refrigerant distributor and reclaimer bought two U.S. specialists, Coolgas and RemTec, and set up a fully fledged North American division. The firm has transplanted U.K. managing director Ken Logan to oversee the establishment of the U.S. operations for the next two years at least.
The acquisition of the U.S. businesses, plus a further distributor in Australia, Technochem, has seen the A-Gas Intl. group top £100 million turnover for 2012, with a worldwide headcount of 237.

Acquiring Assets

“A-Gas is now the largest independent refrigerant player outside of the U.S.,” said Jon Masters, European managing director. “Our core territories are in the U.K., South Africa, and Australia, in each of which we have a 30-35 percent market share. So we were keen to try and take that offering to the U.S. — it was the right opportunity in terms of the business and the regulatory framework.”
That framework is the U.S. phase out of HCFCs and the probable phase down of HFCs, expected to closely follow the European Commission’s proposed F-Gas model — although progressive states like California are already bringing in more stringent rules.
The particular attraction of RemTec is that its core business is halon reclamation. Although these are largely from fire suppressants, this offers the right range of skills and technology to allow an expansion into refrigerant reclamation. This is where A-Gas brings its own skills to bear, said Masters. “We can bring our reclamation knowhow, and the benefit of the U.K. experience of selling the reclaimed HCFC product. The U.S. market is maybe four or five years behind Europe, but it is rapidly developing, and the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] has announced more cuts in HCFC volume.”
The plan is for the RemTec operation to be brought up to the same standard for refrigerant reclamation as A-Gas’s Bristol facilities by the end of this year.
The commercial implications of the rapid cuts should not be underestimated; in the U.S. over the past year, virgin R-22 has increased in price from $3 per pound to $15 per pound.
Coolgas, by contrast, is a conventional refrigerant distributor, but again the purchase is strategic, providing a foothold in the Southwest, from which A-Gas can build, with a brand name well known to the American market. It also holds all-important import rights to HCFCs.
A foothold in such a large territory is a big deal in its own right, but the potential is far bigger. “The U.S. business is roughly the same size as the U.K. business, but whereas in the U.K. that brings a 30 percent market share, in the U.S. it is only 2 percent of the market. It should be easier to double from 2-4 percent than from 30-60 percent.”
If the plans for reclamation at RemTec go well, it could be joined by other sites. While the U.K. can function well with a single reclamation site, the scale of the U.S. is likely to require a network of two or three more. With reclaimed HCFC expected to be useable in the U.S. beyond 2020, that is an attractive long-term target.

Reclamation Technology

In a relatively short time, refrigerant recovery and reclamation has become a serious business for A-Gas. Its environmental services operations now account for around 20 percent of turnover (refrigerants is the largest proportion at 60 percent).
U.K. business director John Ormerod said, “What we do falls into two areas: cleaning up dirty gas by removing contaminants and separating out gases from refrigerant mixtures.
“We probably lead the world in refrigerant reclamation. There is only one other company in the U.K. and three in the U.S. who can separate refrigerants like we do,” he said.
The separation facilities at Bristol have come on apace since the pioneering days when its technology could be housed in a corner of the warehouse. The original plant is still in situ, but it has been joined by Separator 3, located outside the warehouse and large enough to be able to accommodate tanker-sized volumes of refrigerant, with a capacity to process around 400 tonnes a year.
Although the precise technology is secret, both plants are designed to reclaim refrigerant to Air-Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) 700 standards, as well as being able to split mixed refrigerants into usable batches and to reclaim individual gases from cocktails of recovered refrigerant. The latter is where A-Gas claims distinctiveness, as “the only supplier who has both the technology and the capacity to provide this level of service.”
Content for the European Spotlight is provided courtesy of Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Magazine, London. For more information, visit
Publication date: 5/20/2013

Industry Encourages Cap Use on Refrigerants

Industry Encourages Cap Use on Refrigerants

Recent Deaths Demonstrate Dangers of Huffing R-22
This past March, Kristal Salcido, a 12-year-old seventh grader in Victorville, Calif., inhaled HCFC-22 from an air conditioning unit in the backyard of her grandmother’s home. She was later found passed out on the bathroom floor. Rushed to the emergency room, Salcido was pronounced brain dead. Four days later, her family decided to take her off life support.
She had used the R-22 in a ritual called huffing — the intentional inhalation of chemical vapors to attain a mental high or euphoric effect.
Refrigerants such as CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs, and propane are just part of that chemical basket of inhalants. Others are gasoline, paint thinners, nail polish, and nitrous oxide. According to the website, one in five students has inhaled a chemical to get high by the eighth grade.

The Hazards of Huffing

In the case of the R-22, “When you inhale it, it kills your brain cells — that’s all,” said Ron Postoian, president of AC Plus Heating & Air of Hesperia, Calif., who was interviewed by television station KTLA for its story on a recent huffing fatality in his home state.
“People really don’t realize how dangerous this is,” said Dr. Craig Sanford, Tulsa, Okla., in a news report broadcast by NewsOn6. “Inhaling this substance prevents the body from getting oxygen and you can get frostbite from it, inside the tissues of your nose, mouth, and face.”
Postoian said that he’s serviced a number of condensing units where the refrigerant had suspiciously been used up.
That “missing refrigerant” aspect was echoed by Ryan Rentmeister, who owns Rentmeister Total Home Service of Salt Lake City. A few years ago in his hometown, people were turning on their air conditioners, but the machines were failing to provide cool air, due to absent refrigerant. “We’ve had four cases in the last week,” he said, suspecting huffing as the cause.
Ronda Szymanski of Advanced Air and Refrigeration Inc., Fort Myers, Fla., said a telltale sign is when service techs find a butter knife laying next to a central air conditioning condenser that has been depleted of refrigerant, with its service port visibly damaged.

Curbing the Problem

Regulators and many within the HVACR industry have been working hard to get a handle on this deadly situation. Both the International Mechanical Code 1101.10 and the International Residential Code M1411.6 have mandated that “refrigerant-circuit access ports located outdoors shall be fitted with locking-type tamper-resistant caps.”
Code requirements have been in place since 2009, but these requirements need to be codified by each state, said Gerry Spanger, director of HVACR engineered products for Rectorseal Corp.
So far, at least five states have adopted the codes, said Spanger. However, limiting more widespread acceptance, the codes are only related to new construction. He said eventually the codes will extend into retrofits and existing buildings. “It is not a question of ‘no, this won’t happen.’ It is just a question of how long it takes,” said Spanger.
Once state codes are in place, inspectors cannot sign off on a job until the locking caps are in place.
“The products are a must for companies and technicians to comply with local codes as well as liability concerns connected with refrigerants,” said Oscar Lopez, vice president of sales for JB Industries Inc., Aurora, Ill.
Spanger said that even as all the regulatory aspects eventually fall into place, there is still the possibility of abuse within the HVACR sector. He said he’d even heard of contractors buying the caps, locking them in place when required, and then removing them after an inspection for use in the next project.
“They don’t understand they are laying themselves open to liabilities,” he said.
He also said that even though the caps can only be sold to contractors who are U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified to handle refrigerants, he had heard of instances of some wholesalers and contractors who sell the caps on websites, even though they may not be able to verify the certification status of the purchaser.
According to Jon Melchi, director of government affairs for Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI), “Wholesalers and suppliers strongly believe that these products should not be available online. They should only be sold to licensed contractors. As an industry we must be diligent in making sure that the entire channel is aware of best practices regarding these products.”

Locked and Loaded

While controlling huffing remains a key aspect of locking caps, the devices have long been offered in the HVACR distribution channel for a number of applications. Even as regulations move toward the requirement of locking caps, the devices themselves are being fine tuned.
For example, this past February, Rectorseal Corp. introduced its GasGuard™, a tamper-resistant locking valve cap designed to help prevent refrigerant theft, leaks, and huffing. It screws and locks onto threaded refrigerant Schraeder valves.
“GasGuard restricts unauthorized access because it can only be installed or removed with a unique matching proprietary socket tool,” said Jerry Tomasello, director of marketing for RectorSeal. “It cannot be removed with a core remover or Allen wrench.”
JB’s Lopez also noted that his company is launching a new American-made refrigerant safety cap with greater security under the brand name The Shield.

Contractor Support

Numerous contractors, including Chase Tunnell, president, Dominion Service, Richmond, Va., are strong advocates of locking caps. For a number of years, Tunnell has been involved with the Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE) program, which encourages the use of locking caps.
“SAFE is still actively pushing it and Dominion Service is currently doing a public service campaign in the Hampton Roads, Va., area,” he said. “Our Richmond division has had huge success with the program but Hampton Roads has been a little slower to catch on. We are working on fixing that.
“We are currently installing 10-15 caps each week. We’re confident that number will increase significantly as the summer season hits.”

Counting down to the ban on R22

As the months pass towards the total ban on the use of R22 for servicing air-conditioning equipment, Kevin Groves of Ergro gives his perspective.

The final removal of the HCFC refrigerant R22 from the world’s air conditioning systems has long been heralded and is now upon us here in the UK. Manufacturers of equipment have not included it in new systems since 2003. In 2010 the use of virgin R22 refrigerant was banned, and systems can only now be serviced utilising reclaimed refrigerant for maintenance. Now the final date in the legislative removal of recycled R22 because of its ozone-depleting properties is near. On 1 January 2015, the use of recycled R22 refrigerant will be banned in the EU.

Practically speaking, where R22 refrigerant is in use, there are two main options to make an air-conditioning system serviceable after the ban comes into force. One option is to convert the existing system to enable it to operate using a legal but often less efficient refrigerant or replacing part of or the entire system.

There are two main routes to a conversion solution.

In some cases it will be possible to make a few modifications to the system, such as replacing some gaskets and the oil, which will enable it to run on a new refrigerant such as R422D. This is known as the drop-in refrigerant option, which, in most cases, will lead to a reduction in cooling capacity and increased running costs.

Where another refrigerant cannot be dropped in, there may be the potential to convert the system by installing new fan coils or condensers whilst still retaining much of the building’s existing internal infrastructure such as piping. As well as increasing system capacity, conversion is likely to improve the overall efficiency of a system through the use of modern refrigerants (except when using the drop-in option).

Both solutions are, however, heavily dependent on site, installation conditions and age of the plant.
Systems not suitable for conversion will need to be replaced. Despite the higher installation costs, replacement can lead to greater system efficiencies, lower maintenance requirements and reduced operating costs.

For building-services engineers, the effect of the legislation is likely to mean that air conditioning will take centre stage in many of their operations in the coming years. It’s important that the engineering community understands what is business-critical air conditioning and impresses the importance of preparedness upon facilities managers and business leaders.

Who should act and when, what market forces and liabilities are involved and why it’s becoming the most important news in air conditioning may not be immediately obvious to many business leaders and even facilities managers. In fact, many people who could be affected most acutely won’t even know if R22 is used in their air conditioning or even realise they are responsible for the air conditioning in the spaces they occupy.

At a recent summit in London, held at the Royal Society of Medicine, Ergro assembled a panel of experts to answer some of these questions and to raise awareness of the issues surrounding the ban of R22.

The panel introduced the subject from their various perspectives and took questions from an invited audience comprising building managers, consultants, architects and business leaders.
There were several points upon which the panel was in complete agreement, chief among which was the need for people to gain the knowledge required to properly evaluate their position in relation to a date which, while it seems distant, taken in the context of the financial cycles and business-critical nature of the systems involved, is actually almost upon us.

I represented Ergro on the panel to offer the insight of a contracting engineer who works with air conditioning for skyscrapers, manufacturing, data centres and offices. Also on the panel were representatives of leading air-conditioning manufacturers Mitsubishi Electric and Daikin, legal and liability expertise from property law firm Taylor Wessing and chartered accountants and chartered tax advisors LB Group.

One question concerned the subtleties of supply and demand of the refrigerant itself. R22 is presently trading at around £30 per kilo in the UK, and this price is rising all of the time. When considering the fact that it will become illegal to buy or sell from the end of 2014 it would seem likely that the upward trend in its value will continue.

And what about installing new equipment? If it’s critical to the business that maintenance is possible and downtime avoidable, as it is in many of the instances where an estimated 750 000 systems using R22 exist, then a lot of companies will be looking to replace equipment at around the same time.
Needless to say, where demand outstrips supply in terms of the expertise to fit new systems, there are likely to be delays that could cause unnecessary risk to business continuity.

While it does seem to be a little way off, the R22 refrigerant ban will very soon make its presence felt across the business community. From now and for the next 18 months and beyond, building-services engineers will be at the heart of making business-critical systems compliant and serviceable into the future. But the whole facilities management and building services industry must come together with manufacturers and business services to help the business community to understand how the changes will affect them. Knowledge is power, and a full evaluation of existing systems will equip business leaders with the knowledge to make the right decisions to get ahead of the ban. More information and a countdown to the ban clock is available at the link below.

Kevin Groves is group operations director with Ergro
- See more at:

Update: Car engineers pour cold water on Daimler refrigerant fire claims

29 April 2013 | By
Car engineering research group SAE International has reported the conclusions of its extensive analysis of HFO 1234yf, calling the refrigerant “safe and effective to use in automotive applications” - free to view, simply register
The team on SAE’s Cooperative Research Programme, comprising most car manufacturers from Ford to Renault to Toyota, concluded that “the risk of passenger exposure to a vehicle fire associated with this refrigerant is exceptionally remote”.

The CRP was established to examine Mercedes owner Daimler’s claims that HFO 1234yf ignited in a staged head-on collision, whereas the previous refrigerant R134a, outlawed by the Mobile Air Conditioning directive, did not.

In the wake of lurid claims about the risk of flammability in the UK tabloid press, the SAE said CRP team members had again concluded that the refrigerant release testing conducted by Daimler is unrealistic, following numerous additional tests of various types to study ignition of an HFO 1234yf leak in a crash-damaged vehicle.

In another strongly worded statement, SAE said Daimler’s test “is not an appropriate test to verify the safety of refrigerant applications in vehicles. The Daimler testing did not include any actual vehicle collisions or the mitigating factors that occur in an actual collision.”

It said these factors include the quenching effect of front end compartment deformation, the extinguishing effect of steam released due to radiator breakage, and dispersion of the refrigerant from the condenser outside the engine compartment.

“Daimler’s refrigerant release apparatus and nozzle does not represent actual crash-damaged refrigerant lines, and was found to be artificial.”

The report was welcomed by Honeywell Fluorine Products, the manufacturer of the HFO, which emphasised that even those German manufacturers which have indicated they are in favour of using CO2 in the future cars had not found anything unsafe about the HFO.

Honeywell European managing director Paul Sanders said: “Pretty much all of the car industry has said publicly it can use 1234yf safely, including all members of the [German carmakers group] VDA, apart from Daimler. Opel had its test programme undertaken by engineering body TUV (above), which is globally respected.”

Following the report, Mr Sanders said Honeywell was now calling for the European Commission to censure Daimler for continuing to defy the MAC Directive. If strictly applied, the EC could forbid the registering of non-compliant cars, such as the Mercedes A and B class models which are still being produced with R134a, in contravention of the directive.

He said: “All we can ask is that the law is adhered to. The MAC directive is unequivocal that non-compliant cars should not be registered. The car industry has had seven years to make a compliant vehicle. HFO 1234yf is available today, it meets the MAC directive and it is cost-effective.”

Mr Sanders also claimed that Daimler’s preferred refrigerant carbon dioxide – which it has asked the EC for more time to develop – is not as environmentally friendly as HFO 1234yf across the lifetime of a vehicle.

He said: “CO2 is a smokescreen and it is three to five years away at best. As it is an asphyxiant it would need significant changes to car designs and the service charges would be higher, since if it was to leak, it would all leak at once.”

He warned that the Commission needed to take action against Daimler or risk appearing ineffectual: “It sets a dangerous precedent for the forthcoming F-Gas regulations if one company is allowed to go its own way and flout the law. Allegedly Daimler is saving 50 euros a car for not using 1234yf.  It is not a safety issue, it is a political issue.”


WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy (Alliance), an industry coalition, today released a report detailing that the U.S. fluorocarbon industry’s total annual sale of goods and services amounts to $158 billion.   

“The role of fluorocarbons in both stratospheric ozone protection and global climate change has generated a need for governments, policymakers, and scientists to understand the scope of the industry, usage patterns, business sector volumes, and their value to society,” stated Dave Stirpe, Alliance Executive Director. 

The products analyzed by the study include hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and the products that contain or are manufactured with the compounds such as air conditioning, refrigeration, foam insulation, and metered dose inhalers.  The value to the U.S. economy is rounded out by the value of the wholesale, installation, and maintenance activities – as well as recovery, recycling, reclamation, and destruction of used refrigerants and foam blowing agents.

“These compounds and the products utilizing HCFCs and HFCs contribute greatly to the quality of life while at the same time minimizing impacts on the stratospheric ozone layer and the climate,” stated Stirpe.  “Over the years, industry has improved technology in food-preserving refrigeration, air conditioning in buildings and motor vehicles, insulation systems, and other products.  Businesses are working to make transitions to compounds with more environmental protection while continuing the important attributes contained in fluorocarbons such as energy efficiency, low toxicity, and non-flammability,” Stirpe said. 

The 39-page study, written by Joseph M. Steed, JMS Consulting, uses public data and industry information to assess the broadly-defined US fluorocarbon industry.  A copy of the study is available on the Alliance website at

For 32 years the Alliance has coordinated industry participation in the development of responsible international and U.S. government policies regarding ozone protection and climate change.  It is composed of manufacturers and businesses that rely on fluorocarbons.



Dave Stirpe
Executive Director
Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy
2111 Wilson Blvd., 8th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201

phone: (703) 243-0344

China to receive $385m to eliminate HCFCs

CHINA: Up to $385m is to be given to China to end its production of R22 refrigerant.

The money from the Montreal Protocol's Multilateral Fund is designed to help ensure the entire elimination of China's industrial production of ozone depleting substances by the 2030.

China has agreed to retire its current HCFC production capacity and will also retire surplus production capacity that is currently not utilized.

According to the Chinese, the total amount of HCFCs to be eliminated will prevent the emission of over 4,300,000 tonnes of HCFCs, equal to 300,000 tonnes in terms of its ozone depletion potential, and 8 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas emissions.

With China being the largest producer and consumer of HCFCs, this is potentially the largest project approved so far under the Multilateral Fund since its inception.

China will close and dismantle its production lines producing only HCFCs for uses controlled under the Montreal Protocol and ensure that any HCFC plants that will receive funding do not switch to producing HCFCs as industrial feedstock, a use not controlled by the Montreal Protocol. China will also coordinate with stakeholders and make best efforts to manage HCFC production and associated by-product production in HCFC plants in accordance with best practices to minimize associated climate impacts.

Over the next four years China will receive US $95m to cover the first stage of its HCFC production phase-out management plan (HPPMP) to assist the country to meet the freeze in HCFC production by 2013 and the reduction by 10% by 2015 as required by the Montreal Protocol's HCFC phase-out programme.

The latest data shows that China produces 92% of the total HCFC production of developing countries.

While the announcement was welcomed by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), there are concerns to ensure that HFC23, a hugely damaging by-product of production, is also destroyed.

EIA is calling on China to formally pledge to destroy the HFC23 from all Chinese HCFC production facilities, including facilities which produce HCFC for feedstock.

"Elimination of China's production of HCFCs over the next 17 years is a great win for the environment," said Mark W Roberts, EIA's senior Policy advisor. "However, it will be a hollow victory unless China adopts measures to prevent HFC23 from being vented into the atmosphere."