The new regulation F-Gas (EU) 517/2014 came into effect in all European Union countries on 1 January 2015. It replaces the old regulation (EU) 842/2006. As with all European regulations, it is directly applicable in all Member States.
Without going into detail on the whole regulation, we are going to concentrate on the part referring to the confinement of coolants. To understand this regulation, it is necessary to know that it is not based on the volume of coolant contained in the refrigeration system, but on its volume of equivalent CO2. All coolants have an equivalent CO2 called GWP (Global Warming Potential).
 

Which systems are affected by this description ?

Commercial and industrial refrigeration systems are part of the description in article 4.2 from a) to d) of new the F-Gas regulation, and it concerns all fixed systems of cooling, air conditioning, heat pump and fire protection.

What kind of equipment are these leak inspections for and what is their frequency ?

The frequency of the leak inspections is defined in article 4 of the new F-Gas regulation according to the tonnes of equivalent CO2 contained in the refrigeration system.

 

VOLUME OF EQUIVALENT CO2 VOLUME OF EQUIVALENT CO2 FREQUENCY OF THE INSPECTIONS Obligations
      Obligation of installing a leak detector (article 5)
between and Possible reduction of the frequencies to half Concerning article 4.2 a) à d)
> = 5 tonnes of equivalent CO2 < 50 tonnes d'équivalent CO2 once/year No
> = 50 tonnes of equivalent CO2 < 500 tonnes d'équivalent CO2 twice/year No
> = 500 tonnes of equivalent CO2   4 times/year Yes

 

How is the equivalent CO2 of the system calculated ?

It is only is necessary to know the type of coolant in the system, its GWP and its load (kg). The calculation is simple; just multiply the load of coolant by its GWP to come up with its equivalent CO2 in kg. Example: 128 kg of R404A with a GWP of 3922 > 128 kg X 3922 = 502 016 kg or around 500 tonnes of equivalent CO2.

How are the leak inspections performed ?

The Regulation (EU) 517/2014, like the old one (EU) 842/2006, does not define the methods for the leak inspections; they are described in another European regulation, 1516/2007. This regulation has not yet been revoked by the new F-Gas (article 26) and continues to define the leak inspection methods.

 

THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF PROCEDURES FOR A LEAK INSPECTION


The method of direct measurement (article 6) consisting of one of the following options:
a) Searching for a leak in all the components of the refrigeration system manually using help of a gas detector (currently the most commonly used procedure).
b) Searching for a leak using a UV detector after adding a liquid to the system.
c) Searching for a leak by depositing a foaming solution in the whole system.

Methods a) to c) require the whole system to be inspected, which will take a long time, including the time needed to empty the refrigerated cases.


The indirect measurement methods (article 7) consist of:


• the analysis of a set of parameters (pressure, temperatures, current, level of the liquids, etc.) which makes it possible to assess whether the system has started to leak.


The DNI uses this procedure of indirect measurement automatically to carry out the leak inspection.

Obligations of the regulation

When is it possible to reduce the frequency of the leak inspections ?
The frequencies are determined in article 4 of F-Gas (see table 1), but can be reduced by half if a detector is installed.

Attention : The environment detector installed in the machinery room makes it possible to reduce the frequency by half only in the machinery room and only if it is confined.
The DNI, in its role as a leak detector, enables the leak inspections to be reduced by half in the whole system as it monitors it completely, but only if the inspection continues to be performed using one of the direct measurement methods.
Nevertheless, as the DNI is installed, the leak inspection is also performed through the DNI using indirect measurement methods, so it would be a shame not to use it!

With the DNI, the manual searches for the leak inspections are no longer necessary.

Attention : when the DNI detects a leak, it is compulsory to find it (article 3.3, see below).

Who is obliged to install a leak detector ?
Article 5.1 of the new F-Gas regulation (EU) 517/2014 requires installation of a leak detector in all systems containing 500 or more tonnes of equivalent CO2 (in other words, more than 128 kg of R404A, for example) that enables the alarm to be raised in the event of leakage and inform the operator or the company responsible for maintenance.

Attention : in the case of GMS type multi-user systems, for example, the environment detector does not respond to this obligation as it cannot detect a leak outside of the machinery room.

The DNI also responds to this requirement of the regulation.

When must we search for a leak ?
The F-Gas states in article 3.3 «Where a leakage of fluorinated greenhouse gases is detected, the operators shall ensure that the equipment is repaired without undue delay.