F-Gas regulations explained

04 May 2016

FGAS.jpg

Fluorinated gases (or F-gases) are man-made gases that are durable enough to stay in our atmosphere for centuries, contributing to a global greenhouse effect. They are used across the globe for a number of commercial and industrial purposes.

What are they used for?

The most common types of F-gases are HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons); and as the name suggests, they contain a combination of hydrogen, fluorine and carbon. They are commonly used in commercial and industrial refrigeration, air-conditioning systems, heat pump equipment and as blowing agents for foam, such as fire extinguishers and aerosols.

Impact of the gases

F-gases are energy efficient and completely safe for the public due to their very low toxicity and flammability levels.

The issue with F-gases is their high global warming potential. If released, either intentionally or accidentally, some F-gases can stay in the atmosphere for up to 1,000 years. This has warranted a strong response from governments across the world.

Regulations

In order to combat the potential global warming effects of the gases, F-gas regulations have been introduced by many countries. The newly revised European F Gas regulation was published in May 2014, a full version of which can be read here.

The regulation impacts anyone who:

  • Manufactures, uses or services any equipment that contain F-gas
  • Produces or wholesales F-gas
  • Imports and exports F-gas or equipment containing it

The fines for breaking the guidelines can be severe, and this week Schneider Electric was fined £21,000 after gas was released during the installation of a circuit breaker.

What the regulations mean for you

The main effect the regulations have for any company that deals with F-gas is routine record keeping and specific maintenance requirements.

The following steps are outlined in the regulations:

Check if your system contains F gas, checking the labels of all equipment in use. It may be necessary to speak directly to the supplier of the equipment.

Use only trained technicians to carry out maintenance work, this includes; installation, testing for leaks, general maintenance and disposal or decommissioning. Check that anyone already working on your equipment is qualified.

Label all equipment. When any equipment is installed it should clearly state on a label that the equipment contains F-gas, the industry/chemical name for the gas and from 2017 the mass of the F-gas in kilograms and the global warming potential.

Check for leaks. You are responsible for stopping leaks from your equipment. You must check all equipment for leaks at specific intervals and maximum levels of leakage apply. If you find a leak during a check, you must repair it and repeat the test within a month to check the repair worked.

Keep records. Operators of any equipment containing F-gases, and those who service them, must keep the following records about any equipment that has to be checked for leaks:

  • Quantity/type of F-gas in the equipment when it’s installed
  • Quantity/type of gas added during any maintenance
  • Details of any companies that install, service or decommission the equipment
  • Dates/results of all mandatory leak checks


You must keep all records for five years and make them available to government officials if they ask for them.

DTL’s F-gas training capabilities

We can offer a range of F-gas training courses for persons undertaking charging, recovery, service and maintenance of refrigeration and heat-pump equipment containing Fluorinated (F) gases or Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS).

Benefits of attending:

  • Compliance with legislation
  • Confidence in charging and recovering gas from refrigeration systems
  • Benefits of attending (for the employer)
  • Compliance with legislation and better record keeping

We'd be delighted to discuss with you how we can tailor our F-Gas courses to closely match the business needs of your organisation. Give our friendly team a call on 0800 876 6708 for more information.