HFC gases are a crucial part of a functioning, modern society. From keeping groceries cold and fresh to powering the AC in people’s cars, these gases are an integral part of maintaining our safety and health. However, because these gases have high Global Warming Potential (GWP), federal and local governments are regulating HFC production and importation over the next decade and beyond.
The AIM Act & Supply
The AIM (American Innovation and Manufacturing) Act was finalized by the US government at the end of 2021. This legislation introduced a phase-down plan for virgin HFC gases. From now through 2036, the U.S. will reduce the production and importation of virgin HFCs by granting relevant businesses a set number of HFC allowances (or quota), which will decrease over time. Plus, state governments, such as in California, are introducing additional GWP-based HFC regulations. These will impact the sale, distribution, and entrance of bulk virgin HFCs or HFC blends into California commerce.
As the demand for refrigerant gases will increase, so will the demand for cooling. Businesses will still need to maintain old equipment. With diminishing availability of supply, the market will turn to reclaimed gases to make up the difference.
The good news is that the AIM Act has no impact on reclaimed HFCs, meaning they can be purchased without using HFC allowances. Plus, reclaimed HFCs offer the same performance quality as virgin refrigerants. Reclaimed refrigerants must meet the same standards (AHRI-700) as virgin refrigerants, and are considered equally effective.
The Case for Circular HFCs
Circular business models reduce waste for more efficient resource usage. By relying on existing products, we make better use of what we already have, avoiding the need to produce the equivalent quantity of virgin refrigerants. Circularity also incentivizes people to avoid leaking or venting refrigerants into the atmosphere. Turning to reclaimed HFCs enables participation in the circular economy and delivers benefits from a sustainable business model. In some cases, doing so could reduce the risk of interruptions to your business because of issues like supply chain availability.
To be properly reclaimed, HFC gases must be contained and recovered, never leaking into the atmosphere. Learning the safest and most effective processes out in the field will ensure businesses have a steady supply of HFCs. For example, venting HFC gases and releasing refrigerants into the atmosphere is not only illegal, it contributes to environmental harm and depletes the supply source for these gases.
Ensure proper recovery by capturing HFCs in recovery cylinders and never venting. Then, you can work with a reclamation partner to turn the gas back into a usable product. Once a reclaimer has the material, they can get to work on separating, processing, and reclaiming the gases before laboratory testing and analysis to certify them for quality assurance purposes.
There’s been a misconception in the field that mixed refrigerants cannot be reclaimed, and if they are, they’re of inferior quality. That’s simply not true. While separation is an additional, complex step in the reclamation process, it is still best to reclaim mixed refrigerants.
Well before the introduction of the AIM Act, A-Gas began heavily investing in separation technology. Instead of instituting penalties for mixed refrigerants, which many reclaimers do, A-Gas compensates those who work with us to reclaim their used refrigerants, regardless of their condition. But, to gain the most value and highest purity through the reclamation process, it’s smart to avoid mixing refrigerants.
An Experienced Reclamation Partner
A-Gas Offers Experience With HFC Phase-Down
In choosing a reclamation partner, it’s important to work with an organization that has the experience, capacity, and relevant technology needed to provide the highest-quality product possible. A-Gas is a global company with offices in Europe, the UK, and Australia—places that are leaps ahead of the US in their phase-down schedules—as well as other countries that are just beginning their phasedowns. A-Gas' global offices share best practices across our locations, which has equipped the US team with the necessary information to be best prepared.
With that knowledge, A-Gas invested in becoming the leading EPA-certified reclaimer with the capacity to handle a massive increase in demand before the AIM Act came about. A-Gas' lifecycle refrigerant management approach provides businesses with a singular partner for their refrigerant recovery, reclamation, and supply needs.
Luckily, the phase-down will take place over time. For now, businesses should look to minimize their allowance usage with reclaimed HFCs. When HFCs are used, selling them to reclamation companies will generate additional income for businesses to use on future equipment costs while ensuring the continued availability of HFCs during the transition.
A-Gas has the technology, capacity, and experience to guide businesses through these legislative shifts. A-Gas offers consultation for long-term planning, throughout the phase-down and beyond. If businesses don’t have a plan for navigating a restricted HFC supply chain, it would be beneficial to get one in place.
A-Gas also offers EPA-compliant refrigerant removal via its Rapid Recovery service, the largest refrigerant recovery service in the world. Proper, safe recovery is the bedrock of lifecycle refrigerant management, without which reclamation or reuse cannot occur. Rapid Recovery is an on-site service, making it easy for businesses to stay compliant and participate in the circular economy.
Additionally, Rapid Exchange offers a simple on-site cylinder swap, where A-Gas goes to a customer’s location and exchanges full recovery tanks for clean, empty, and in-date cylinders, providing the business with EPA documentation. A-Gas will then pay the business for its used gases. Businesses can also purchase reclaimed refrigerants directly through A-Gas, without exchanging or recovering their own gases.
To learn more about the lifecycle refrigerant management services A-Gas offers, click here: https://www.agas.com/us/products-services/refrigerant-services/