Refrigerant Regulatory History
The refrigerant R-22, used in Ground Source Heat Pumps, was developed in the early 1900s as a substitute for R-12. It can produce more cooling capacity from the same size compressor with no significant power penalty. It quickly became, and remains today, the refrigerant of choice for almost all packaged air-conditioners and heat pumps. Its main disadvantage is a somewhat higher pressure at any given temperature. This is a reasonable price to pay compared to the many advantages.
Because R-22 contains some chlorine, it is classified as an HCFC. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations currently call for R-22 to eventually be phased out of production, not use, by 2030. EPA regulations also call for its phaseout in all new equipment by 2010. HCFC consumption will then be reduced in steps to a total phase-out in 2030. Consumption is defined as production plus imports minus exports. Recycled refrigerants are not included in the phase-out.
Starting in 2004, production of R-22 is scheduled to be reduced by 35%. Refrigerant reclamation and imports are expected to fill most of the gap caused by domestic production reductions. One major manufacturer indicated their supplies are adequate to meet demand and supplies should be OK barring unforeseen disruptions.
The primary regulation that applies to this and all chemical refrigerants is addressed in the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Your contractor is familiar with these requirements and will be able to meet them.