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Choosing the most environmentally friendly refrigeration system

In by far the majority of cases it is best to choose a system that uses a natural refrigerant. It is also for this reason that the regulations by and large prohibit the use of HFC gases and ozone-depleting substances as refrigerants. The purpose of the regulations is to protect the climate and the ozone layer.

It is prohibited to establish a new refrigeration system containing an ozone-depleting substance, such as R22, as a refrigerant.

The HFC gases are very powerful greenhouse gases and are all on the List of Undesirable Substances. The use of HFCs as a refrigerant should therefore be avoided as far as possible.

When the Statutory Order on industrial greenhouse gases (HFC gases) was adopted in 2002, it was technologically difficult to produce functional medium-sized refrigeration systems. The Statutory Order therefore provided a “window” from 150 g to 10 kg of refrigerant per refrigeration system, where it remained lawful to use HFC gases. By and large, good environmentally friendly systems based on natural refrigerants are also available nowadays.

Refrigeration systems using natural refrigerants are often a little more expensive in terms of construction costs than traditional HFC refrigeration systems. However, the total costs from the point of view of the entire life cycle of the system will often be lower for systems with natural refrigerants.

The relatively low construction costs for HFC systems have meant that some refrigeration systems have been built as a series of HFC installations, each with just under 10 kg of refrigerant. This is not unlawful provided that the refrigeration circuits are completely separate, but it is not in line with the aim of the regulations. It is not environmentally friendly, and probably not economically beneficial in the long term, either.

In order to promote the spread of natural refrigerants, the Danish Environmental Protection Agency has set up a Knowledge Centre for HFC-free Refrigeration ( http://www.hfc-fri.dk/ ). The centre provides free advice and assistance when deciding what kind of refrigeration system to choose.