Code of Practice to eliminate halocarbon emissions from refrigeration and air conditioning systems: chapter 1

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Refrigerants

Halocarbons are often used as refrigerants. Refrigerants are fluids that draw heat and create a cooling effect when they evaporate. They are sold as single chemical compounds and as blends, which are mixtures of two or more chemical compounds combined in a ratio to obtain a refrigerant with specific properties. Thermo-physical properties of refrigerants, --such as critical temperature and pressure, normal boiling point, and viscosity, --are taken into account when selecting a refrigerant in order to optimize the efficiency of the cooling system.

The Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003, like most provincial and territorial regulations, specify which halocarbons are targeted. For the purpose of this code of practice, and unless otherwise specified, blends are covered in the meaning of the term refrigerant.

There are many refrigerants on the market today, and they are usually classified in the following three groups: 1) halocarbons (fluorocarbons), which include chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as well as unsaturated HFCs such as hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) and hydrofluoro-ether (HFE); 2) hydrocarbons, which include propane, isobutane and isopentane; and 3) inorganic compounds, which include refrigerants such as water, air, carbon dioxide and ammonia.

There are various methods of cooling. The oldest method is evaporation refrigeration, which is simply the evaporation of water to cool the air or material around it. Later came the absorption refrigeration method, --which removes heat by evaporating a refrigerant at a low pressure, and releases heat by condensing the refrigerant at a higher pressure. These methods are still used in certain applications, but vapour-compression refrigeration is now the most commonly used method. Vapour-compression and absorption refrigeration systems work on the same principle, but the former uses a compressor to generate the pressure differential necessary to circulate the refrigerant.

The basic components of vapour-compression systems are a compressor, a condenser, an evaporator and an expansion device. Components such as piping, control valves, pressure relief devices, receivers and filter-dryers are either part of the original system design or they can be added during installation or at a later date. Vapour-compression systems are common in a wide range of cooling capacities and for all sorts of applications.

A refrigeration cycle diagram will be added here.

1.2 Training

Environmental Awareness Training Programs

In Canada, a proposal to provide environmental awareness training for technicians in the refrigeration and air conditioning industry originated in the 1992 National Action Plan for Recovery, Recycling and Reclamation of CFCs. In 1998, the national action plan was updated with the National Action Plan for the Environmental Control of Ozone-Depleting Substances (ODS) and their Halocarbon Alternatives, which recommended updating the training program to reflect the content of the 1996 Environmental Code of Practice for Elimination of Fluorocarbon Emissions from Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Systems.

An environmental awareness training program for workers in the stationary and mobile air conditioning and refrigeration sectors is available in all provinces. The training is a requirement of the Federal Halocarbon Regulations, 2003 and in some provincial and territorial regulations.

The environmental awareness training complements, but does not replace, trade qualifications. In Canada, the provinces and territories are responsible for establishing trade qualifications requirements. Workers need to be trade qualified and licensed as required by the jurisdiction in which they work.

The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute (HRAI) offers environmental awareness training through its SkillTech Academy and a network of delivery partners consisting mainly of community colleges. The training will be updated to reflect the content of this version of the code of practice.

The HRAI keeps a record of all persons who have successfully completed their environmental awareness training. A registration number, a card and a certificate are issued to all successful participants. The HRAI website has a current list of delivery partners.

The Manitoba Ozone Protection Industry Association (MOPIA) offers environmental awareness training as required under Manitoba regulations. The successful completion of this course provides the participant with the ability to purchase and handle substances regulated in Manitoba. Some Canadian jurisdictions recognize the MOPIA training.

In Quebec, Emploi-Québec and the Commission de la construction du Québec offer the environmental awareness training required under Quebec regulations. The successful completion of this course provides the participant with the ability to purchase and handle substances regulated in Quebec. Some Canadian jurisdictions also recognize the training offered in Quebec.

In some provinces and territories, organizations other than the three mentioned above can offer equivalent training.

The above-mentioned courses are theoretical. They prepare participants to comply with the Federal Halocarbons Regulations, 2003 and the provincial ozone-depleting substances regulations, as technicians may have to work under the federal and one or more provincial or territorial jurisdictions. The training courses cover information on how ozone-depleting substances affect the ozone layer, and they focus on best practices related to activities that could lead to releases of halocarbons. They also include topics such as leak detection, use of appropriate containers, and refrigerant recovery, reuse, recycling and reclamation. An exam is administered at the end of the course.

Anyone associated with the design, installation and purchasing of refrigerant and refrigeration and air conditioning systems may benefit from the environmental awareness training.

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