Refrigerant Management: Making R-22 Last

October 7, 2019 / by Ted Atwood

Ted Atwood

Making R-22 Last

Trakref launches new end-to-end solution enabling supply chain and end users to track and manage refrigerants.

Recently stories in the news have been mentioning the restrictions on R-22 refrigerant that go into place on January 1, 2020.

These EPA regulations, originally put into place in 1994, have been in development and planned for 26 years. There are no surprises here. Your R-22 air conditioning unit (50% of units are R-22) is likely no less than 5 years old and more likely closer to 10. Maintenance issues normally start appearing around 7-10 years.  R-22 will end production in January 1, 2020.

The EPA has been talking to manufacturers and suppliers for more than a decade about how best to manage the R-22 phase out, but they have done very little to reach out to owners and service providers about how to prepare and what to expect. Although there is a robust recycle market for the gas recovered from these systems at end-of-life, the economics are not in their favor and much of this gas is vented. 

Trakref offers a mobile app that tracks refrigerants and the containers in which they are stored

To help service teams establish an inventory management system, monitor their inventories, and validate usage for clients, we launched a mobile tracking app for both apple and Android. Trakref Pro will provide visibility to valuable and constrained inventories so that shortages can be avoided.

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Let's look at the market facts

  • At least 500MM lbs of all systems are still charged with obsolete R-22.

  • Most transactions only require a partial use of any R-22 gas cylinders.

  • Cylinders are generic and unmarked – making it difficult to track origins or verify weights.

  •  R-22 reclamation numbers are not keeping pace with the allocation reductions put into place by the EPA in January 2012. By any measure, this fact is increasing the gap that was created between service needs and the available supply.

  • There is plenty of R-22 in the market – just not all of it is suitable for use.

  • It is illegal to extract refrigerant from one independent system and put that refrigerant into another independent system unless it has been appropriately reclaimed and re-certified to exacting ARI 700 standards.

  • It is illegal to vent refrigerant gas into the atmosphere.

  • Each year over $1 Billion in refrigerants are unaccounted for.

  • R-22 is still available and process have remained reasonable – but this won’t last forever.

Refrigerant regulations and production restrictions have had a profound impact throughout the entire refrigerant distribution channel.  Specifically:

  • Distributors are being forced to deal with issues of reduced supply (from reduced manufacturing and importation by the chemical suppliers), while trying to meet the needs of the contractors and system owners who still have equipment and/or service contracts that require the refrigerants involved in the allocation reductions;

  • Contractors are faced with the dilemma regarding how to treat the used refrigerants recovered from system maintenance. The value of these refrigerants is causing these contractors to weigh the benefits of properly recovering and reclaiming these refrigerants against the pressing need for reuse with supplies being reduced.

  • System owners are facing crucial capital expenditure issues where un-amortized hvac equipment cannot be properly serviced due to refrigerant supply issues, thus forcing management to consider replacing good equipment with new equipment solely based on the availability of a component part.

As a result of the attention being paid to refrigerants, the historical lack of awareness as to the value of these assets is now being mitigated and the issues are now beginning to be talked about.  Additionally, the monetization value of these refrigerants is now starting to show up on corporate financial and environmental stewardship radar screens.

Coupled with shrinking supply, is the move toward system-owner responsibility of refrigerant management.  This movement is forcing companies to start viewing refrigerants, not as an expense, but as an asset with monetary value that must be managed.

Additionally, the environmental impact of lost refrigerants through the maintenance and lifecycle processes, can create significant public relations and potential financial risks as state regulatory agencies are increasing their influence on the global warming and ozone depleting attributes of refrigerant gases.

When properly managed 90-95% of refrigerants can be returned to the systems

These  refrigerants can be returned to the systems designed to keep people cool and things cold at a much lower cost than purchasing new refrigerants as equipment is maintained.  When this occurs, companies can hedge against the increasing cost of new refrigerants and availability of existing refrigerants, while realizing the asset value of the refrigerants through their full lifecycle.  In addition, companies must be able to remain compliant under federal and state regulations in order to reduce any exposure, both financially and environmentally, from any improper refrigerant handling or management.

Trakref is an affordable (and profitable to you) set of refrigerant management software tools available to track the lifecycle of every molecule of refrigerant. It allows you to maximize the refrigerant’s worth and create new revenue opportunities and hedge against future potential shortages, regardless of where you are in the distribution channel.

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More than 100 MM lbs. of refrigerant are tracked through Trakref

Over the past 25 years we have tracked, managed, recycled and supported a multi hundred million LB supply chain, and we know the responsibilities that challenge distributors, suppliers, service providers & building owners.

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The launch of  Trakref Pro rounds out a set of software solutions using the latest technology in blockchain,delivering seamless visibility for the entire supply chain. 

When utilized, you can now harness the usefulness and value of the billions of missing dollars of refrigerant (or in your case – thousands or hundreds of dollars) , minimize the need for new refrigerant production,  lower the cost to businesses of purchasing refrigerants and reduce the risk of material shortages – all while doing good for the environment. 

Companies at all points along the distribution channel are now able to write fewer and smaller checks and more reliably support their business and clients needs.  So, the more of the refrigerants you can utilize, for longer periods of time and the lower the cost to keep them in the channel, the more money everyone can make.

Everyone wins.

Are you going to be part of the solution?

For more information, contact us at Trakref: (615) 834-0233 or click the button below to get in touch!

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Topics: HVAC/R Software, Product Updates, Refrigerant Management, climate leadership, asset management

Ted Atwood

Written by Ted Atwood

Ted is the President & CEO of Trakref, a cloud-based HVAC/R and refrigerant management software company that provides unprecedented solutions for commercial properties. He has spent more than 20 years in the HVAC/R industry, even owning and operating one of the nation’s largest refrigerant reclaim and recycling companies.