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Modern air conditioning systems run on a variety of refrigerants, the most common ones are R407c, R410a and R22.
R 407c is a mixture of gasses used as a refrigerant it is a zeotropic blend of difluoromethane, pentafluoroethane and tetrafluoroethane. R410 a is a zeotropic mixture of difluoromethane and pentafluoroethane and R22 is Chlorodifluoromethane, R22 is mostly used in older units but is being phased out because of the potential damaging effects that it has on the ozone layer (we will talk more about this in the next issue).
R22 Replacement in Cyprus – Protecting our ozone layer
The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of numerous substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987, and entered into force on January 1, 1989, and following various further meetings. It is believed that if the international agreement is adhered to, the ozone layer is expected to recover by 2050. (Abstracted from wikipedia)
In simplistic terms the Montreal protocol means that harmful refrigerants have to be phased out to protect the ozone layer. The one currently in question is Chlorodifluoromethane (R22). After 1 January 2010, no more virgin refrigerant R22 can be used in existing air conditioning systems. And after 2015 no more recycled refrigerant R22 can be used in existing air conditioning systems.
What does this mean for us in Cyprus?
Cyprus has already stopped importing R22 into the country and stocks have practically run out. There are one or two unscrupulous dealers charging extortionate fees for what little there is left on the island. This is bad news home owners with leaking R22 units; it means that even if you can plug the leak, you will not be able to re-fill it with refrigerant, rendering the unit completely useless. However some systems may just be low on refrigerant and might continue to work but they will run inefficiently.
2012 Update, R422 is here.
The good news is that a replacement gas has been imported into the country and that is R422d however it is pretty expensive, however if your ac units are running fine then this may be a good alternative to replacing them just yet.