At the 45th Open Ended Working Group to the Montreal Protocol (OEWG45), held in Bangkok, Thailand, July 3–7, an expert panel presented the problem of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), including f-gases and trifluoroacetic acid (TFA), to delegates.
In particular, on July 6, experts from the Refrigeration, Air-Conditioning and Heat Pumps Technology Options Committee (RTOC) explained the significance of PFAS. The presentation can be accessed at this link.
The Montreal Protocol is the global treaty managing the phaseout of ozone-depleting f-gases and, through the Kigali Amendment, the phase down of high-GWP HFC gases.
Sandrine Benard, representative of the Norwegian Environment Agency, called for cooperation among the parties to the Montreal Protocol to address this issue in the plenary held following the presentation of the Committee.
Multiple substances controlled under Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Amendment are considered PFAS following the update of the definition by the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD). This includes both HFCs and HFOs, such as HFC-125, HFC-134a, HFC-143a, HFO-1234yf, HFO-1234ze(E), HFO-1336mzz(Z) and HFO-1336mzz(E). The definition would also apply to TFA, an atmospheric degradation product of, notably, HFO-1234yf (100% conversion) and HFC-134a (up to 20% conversion,) among other f-gases.
In a Conference Room Paper outlining the priority areas to investigate in upcoming years, the European Union requested that the Environmental Effects Assessment Panel, in preparing its 2026 assessment report, “assess the effects and accumulation of breakdown products from controlled substances and their alternatives, in particular any substances that are very persistent in the environment, such as perfluoro- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, including trifluoroacetic acid, in ground and surface waters and other relevant sinks.”
EU PFAS proposal explained
On July 3, ATMOsphere, publisher of R744.com, organized the side event “PFAS and persistent chemicals: the state of play in Europe with focus on refrigerants in HVAC&R systems” to explain to delegates the provisions proposed in the European PFAS Restriction Intention currently under discussion.
Benard and Audun Heggelund, another representative of the Norwegian Environment Agency, explained to attendees the work targeting PFAS, also called “forever chemicals,” in the context of the EU Restriction Proposal. The slides listed the human health problems related to PFAS and further explained to attendees the ground for action on fluorinated refrigerants.
Öko-Recherche, a German environmental consultancy, elaborated further on the scientific facts behind the EU policy initiative targeting PFAS. In particular, the group cited an accumulation of TFA in Europe.
Marc Chasserot, CEO of ATMOsphere, pointed out the relevance of fluorinated gases in the EU PFAS Restriction Proposal, listing natural refrigerants alternatives for each sector in the RACHP (refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump) sector.
“We do not need any more fluorinated refrigerants in most new RACHP equipment because natural refrigerants are alternatives that can work on the same technology,” Chasserot explained The slides are available for free at this link.
Convened by the Ozone Secretariat in the United Nations Environment Programme, the OEWG45 saw a dense agenda covering topics of relevance for the global RACHP industry from a refrigerant and energy-efficiency perspective.
The intense week of work in Bangkok set the agenda for decisions to be taken in Nairobi, Kenya, October 23 –27.
“We do not need any more fluorinated refrigerants in most new RACHP equipment because natural refrigerants are alternatives that can work on the same technology.”Marc Chasserot, CEO, ATMOsphere