Last April the European Parliament approved the F-Gas regulation about the prohibition of fluorinated gases. The new regulation sets out a calendar of reduction and gradual prohibition of current refrigerant gases.
In practice, the current R404A will be no longer used in 2020 in new equipment and installations throughout EU, and from this date on there will be prohibited as well R404A reloads of over 10 kg.
The refrigerant gas manufacturers have already launched a wide range of HFCs mixtures alternatives to R404A, like R407A, R407F, R442, etc., all of which comprising its corresponding brand names. The only virtue of these cocktails is a smaller greenhouse effect, with a GWP of about 2000 alongside 3700 of R404A. However, all of them involve a dangerous high discharge temperature which stakes its use for negative temperatures without all due and necessary cautions.
Regarding high temperatures, however, it seems to be a return to R134A as the best option in face of the mentioned cocktails to substitute R404A. But in any case, from 2022 on, the new F-Gas regulation sets out as well the prohibition of almost all HFCs in refrigerated cabinets and centralised installations of over 40kW
An exception of this opens a door onto the CO2 introduction to produce negative temperatures in cascade by using a R134A cycle for high temperatures. Only in these cases the F-Gas allows the use of R134A in centralised installations with no power limit.
There is no deadline yet to use R134A or new mixtures (R407A, R407F …) in cooling systems or centralised installations under 40kW. It is expected that EU legislators will not content with the current F-Gas and will establish new prohibitions in the future, but all seems that they won’t arrive before 15 years. The R134A fortunately seems to have better possibilities as a definitive “ecological” alternative. The hydroflouro-olephins (HFOs) refrigerants seems to be good candidates.
In short, regarding the type of refrigerant, uncertainty prevails in the future of cooling industry. In this context, the R134A and other transportation fluids like glycol water, seems to be the most conservative options and the R407A as an alternative to R404A seems to be the less risky.