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F-Gas Regulations

Home / F-Gas Regulations (EC) 842/2006

After a long process through the European Parliament the F-Gas regulations became law when they were published in the EU Official Journal in June 2006. They entered into force on 4th July 2006 with much of the regulation applying from 4th July 2007.

The objective of the regulation is to contain, prevent and thereby reduce emissions of the fluorinated greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol. The regulation addresses containment, use, recovery, destruction, reporting, labelling, training, certification and some placing on the market prohibitions for the fluorinated gases.

  • HFCs are one group of fluorinated greenhouse gases covered by this legislation.
  • The regulation does not ban the use of HFCs in any static refrigeration or air conditioning application.

There is, however, an enormous responsibility upon those working in the industry to apply these measures so that emissions are significantly reduced.

The relevant parts affecting the refrigeration and Air Conditioning industry are detailed below.

Containment (article 3)

Operators (the natural or legal person exercising actual power over the technical functioning of the systems covered by this regulation.) of stationary refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment shall use all measures which are technically feasible and do not entail disproportionate cost to prevent leakage of HFCs and as soon as possible repair any detected leakage. A member state may in specific situations designate the owner as being responsible for the operator's obligations. The EU Commission have issued additional guidance on the definition of an operator and what constitutes transferring of responsibilities. The operator must ensure systems are checked for leakage by certified personnel, as defined by the training and certification requirement and to the following schedule:

Leakage inspection

Systems shall be checked for leakage dependent on refrigerant charge:

  • 3kg charge and above - check at least once every 12 months.
  • 30kg charge and above - check at least once every 6 months.
  • 300kg charge and above - check at least once every 3 months.
  • Hermetically sealed systems, which are labelled as such and contain less than 6kg, are exempt.

Operators of equipment containing 300kg or more must install an automatic leakage detection system. These must be checked at least once every twelve months to ensure they are functioning properly.

Checked for leakage means that the system is systematically checked for leakage using direct or indirect methods, focusing on those parts of the system most likely to leak. The cause of any leak will need to be recorded in the log book.

A detailed definition of what constitutes a leak check will be part of legislation attached to F-Gas.

Full details are available from the DEFRA website.

When the implementing legislation for standard leakage checking requirements enters into force, the standard procedure and methods shall apply as from the following check.

Record keeping and log books

Operators of equipment containing 3kg or more will need to maintain records on the quantity and type of HFC installed. Any quantities added or recovered during maintenance, servicing and final disposal will need to be recorded along with leak checks, actions taken, the name of the service Company, the engineer / technician who performed the servicing and maintenance, dates and results of inspections. These records have to be made available to the competent authority upon request.

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Recovery (article 4)

Operators of refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment are responsible for putting in place arrangements for the proper recovery by certified personnel, who comply with the training and certification requirements, of fluorinated greenhouse gases to ensure their recycling, reclamation or destruction. Recovery, for the purpose of recycling, reclamation or destruction must take place before the final disposal of that equipment and where appropriate, during its servicing and maintenance.

When a refillable or non-refillable container reaches the end of its life, the person utilising it for transport or storage purposes is responsible for putting in place arrangements for the proper recovery of any residual gases it contains to ensure their recycling, reclamation or destruction.

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Training and Certification (article 5)

The European Commission have defined much more onerous minimum qualifications than currently applicable in the UK for personnel using fluorinated greenhouse gases. Until such time as training courses are available and the work force retrained and certified to new standards the current City and Guilds 2078 or CITB refrigerant handling applies. A derogation for existing competent personnel will apply for up to 3 years.

By 4th July 2008 Member States shall establish or adapt their own training and certification requirements for companies and all relevant personnel involved in installation, maintenance and servicing based on the minimum qualifications.

The operator of the relevant application shall ensure that relevant personnel have obtained the necessary certification which implies appropriate knowledge of the applicable regulations and standards as well as the necessary competence in emission prevention and recovery of fluorinated greenhouse gases and handling safely the relevant type and size of equipment.

By 4th July 2009 Member States must ensure that companies involved in activities affected by containment and recovery will only take delivery of fluorinated greenhouse gases where their relevant personnel hold the required training and certificates.

For the calendar year 2007 each producer, importer or exporter of more than 1 Tonne of fluorinated greenhouse gases must report quantities to the Commission. The first report has to be submitted to the Commission by 31 March 2008.

All ETS engineers who work on refrigeration systems are ACRIB trained in line with the regulations. ETS can offer a detailed survey of your environmental test chambers, affix appropriate labeling and provide required level of servicing to meet current legislation. ETS keep detailed records of service work and repairs including measured charging and recovery of refrigerants for each of our clients.

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Labelling (article 7)

This only applies to new equipment including those fabricated on site and is in addition to existing labelling requirements and applies from 1st April 2008. Each product or piece of equipment must have a label identifying the chemical name of the fluorinated greenhouse gas using the accepted industry nomenclature the contents of the F-Gas by weight and the phrase Contains fluorinated greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol. This should be clearly and indelibly stated with the quantity adjacent to the service points for charging or recovery.

Hermetically sealed systems will need to be labelled as such.

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Placing on the Market (article 9)

The ban on disposable cylinders applied from 4th July 2007. The ban does not apply to cylinders filled prior to that date.

HFCs and PFCs were banned from use in new non-confined direct evaporation systems from 4th July 2007.

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Review (article 10)

The EU Commission will publish a report by 31st December 2007 for air conditioning systems and refrigeration systems in modes of transport other than motor vehicles. If appropriate the containment provisions may apply from by 31st December 2008.

By 4th July 2011 the EU Commission will publish a full report based on the experience of the application of this regulation and may make proposals for revision of the regulation.

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Enforcement

The UK Government have brought into law, statutory instruments to apply the F-Gas legislation. Compliance is policed by the Environment Agency and Local Authorities who have wide ranging powers to impose prohibition notices and fines on those not adhering to the F-Gas regulations.

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Definitions

Hermetically sealed system means a system in which all refrigerant containing parts are made tight by welding, brazing or a similar permanent connection which may include capped valves and capped service ports that allow proper repair or disposal and which have a tested leakage rate of less than 3 grams per year under a pressure of at least a quarter of the maximum allowable pressure.

Leakage detection system means a calibrated mechanical, electrical, or electronic device for detecting leakage of fluorinated greenhouse gases which, on detection, alerts the operator.

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Countdown to the F-Gas regulations

What needs to be down and when?

The European Union's F-gas Regulation No 842/2006 became law on 4th July 2006 and many of the requirements came into force on 4th July 2007 however some of these requirements are still awaiting clarification from the commission. The table below helps to outline what you need to do now.

F-gases include all HFC refrigerants, such as R134a and blendes containing F-gases such as R407C, R410A, and R404A. If you are handling, recovering, supplying, installing, manufacturing or own equipment containing HFC refrigerants in stationary equipment you now have new legal obligations under the F Gas regulations.

F-Gas Requirements When does this come in? How should this be done? When will further guidance be available?
Operators of equipment must prevent leakage, ensure leak checks are carried out and repair any leaks as soon as possible as well as arranging proper refrigerant recovery. 4th July 2007 Only by qualified personnel (All ETS Engineers are qualified). Following a standard leak check procedure to be set by commission. The UK is consulting now (including possible penalties) and this is likely to be in force by October 2007. Qualifications and leak checking procedures are expected from the Commission in September.
Operators must ensure systems are checked for leaks at least annually if more than 3kg charge (hermetically sealed more than 6kg) and at least once every six months if over 30kg. If they have an automatic leakage detection system they need only be checked every 12 months. Automatic leakage detection systems must be installed on applications with 300kg or more and these systems should be checked every 6 months. If a leak is detected and repaired, a further check must be carried out on the repair site within up to one month to ensure that the repair has been effective. 4th July 2007 Only by personnel qualified to the levels set by the commission. Following a standard leak test procedure. The commission is likely to decide on the standard leak checking procedure and a minimum requirement for training for leak checking in September. Confirmation of the frequency of inspections can be found in existing DTI guidance on the F Gas website.
Operators must maintain records of refrigerant in equipment with a charge of 3kg or more (if hermetic 6kg or more). Records to be made available to the competent authority on demand. Relevant information which specifically identifies the separate stationary equipment of applications containing more than 30kg of F Gas must be maintained by the operator. 4th July 2007 System records should contain:
  • Quality and type of F gases installed added or recovered
  • Name of company or technician carrying out servicing
  • Dates and results of leakage checks and rectification work carried out
A suggested standard format is available from the DTI in its supplementary guidance.
Personnel involved in installation, maintenance, serving, containment and recovery activities must obtain existing UK qualifications. By 4th July 2007 Obtain existing qualifications in refrigerant handling. Currently under DEFRA consultation with penalties likely to be in force from October 2007.
Personnel involved in above work must obtain EU recognised F Gas certification which may be different to the existing UK qualifications. From 4th July 2007 The commission is currently consulting and should announce its decision in October. If these requirements do not match the existing UK qualifications there is likely to be a phase in period from July 2008 over a number of years and operatives will need to undergo further training.
New equipment will need to be labelled. Most new equipment will be labelled by the manufacturer, but site assembled equipment will need to be labelled by the installer with amongst other things the total installed charge. Certain equipment will need instruction manuals containing information about the F gases in use. 4th July 2007

However this will not apply until 6 months after the specification for the requirements for labels has been agreed.
The commission is likely to decide on the label format/contents. The requirement will apply some time after the specification is agreed by the commission possibly up to 9 months. Clarification is awaited in October.
Companies to be certified under the F-Gas regulations 4th July 2007 Likely to take the format of a register of companies who employ certified personnel. The commission will be finalising requirements in October. UK Government will then consult on the details of the register to be introduced in the UK.
EU sales of non refillable containers and non-confined direct evaporator systems are prohibited. 4th July 2007 Equipment cannot be first placed on the market after 4Th July 2007. First placing on the market might be wholesaler selling to retailer, so it is likely that some disposables filed before 4th July will still be available for a while after this date. A clarification note from the commission is expected in October.
Companies involved with containment and recovery will only be able to take delivery of F gases if they have the appropriately certificated personnel. 4th July 2007 DEFRA will consult on appropriate methods of implementation in due course.  
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Any questions you may have regarding the F-GAS REGULATION please contact Alan.Gregory@ets.co.uk
01992 899 440.

Click here to view our F-Gas Certificate.

 

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