ACHRNews – Refrigerant Reclaimers Address HFC Phasedown and R-22 Supply

Woodcliff Lake, NJ – July 12, 2021 – Under the federal American Innovation in Manufacturing (AIM) Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been given the authority to phase down the consumption and production of high-GWP HFC refrigerants such as R-410A and R-404A in the U.S. The final details of the phasedown should be known by October, including the program that EPA must establish under the AIM Act that will maximize the reclamation of HFCs and increase opportunities for reclaiming HFC refrigerants.

This is an important piece of the HFC phasedown, as reclaimed refrigerant will be needed to service existing equipment in future years as production of virgin refrigerant begins to wind down. While refrigerant reclaimers are ready to meet this challenge, they are concerned about how EPA will allocate virgin HFC components, which are needed to return blended refrigerants back to the correct proportions required by the purity standard, AHRI 700.


In administering the HFC phasedown, EPA will create an allocation program, which will define the methodology used to distribute allowances as well as determine the entities that will receive allowances. Essentially, companies or organizations will receive a set quota or allocation of refrigerant they can produce or import; then that allocation will be phased down over time.

There is definitely some optimism about the future. Without knowing all the demand needs of users, the reclamation market has the capacity to grow HFC reclamation and should meet anticipated demand levels, said Kate Houghton vice president of sales and marketing for Hudson Technologies.

“Putting the current HFC reclamation levels into perspective, when compared to the mature R-22 reclamation market, we should see more than four times the growth in HFC reclamation quantities and are expecting even greater growth as the EPA is mandated to help grow the reclamation market,” she said. “If this growth is achieved, and we believe it will be, then reclaimed refrigerants will be well positioned to meet market demand.”

R-22 Outlook

As for supplies of R-22, demand for the refrigerant continues to be strong, and while both reclaim and virgin are currently available, virgin stocks are continuing to shrink. In addition, most reclaimers are concerned over the proper recovery and reclamation of R-22, which are vital for the long-term servicing needs of the installed base.

Hudson Technologies is seeing a large percentage of recovered HFCs that are either mixed or out of balance when compared to the AHRI purity standard. However, a bigger problem is that reclamation of R-22 has not grown, said Houghton, which is most likely due to either illegal reuse or venting.

“Without enforcement, we expect the trend to continue, though we remain hopeful that continued education and emphasis on reclamation will lead to growth,” she said. “R-22 is still the dominant refrigerant reclaimed in the U.S., but for there to be growth in reclamation, there needs to be a combination of enforcement and education, in addition to the economic incentives that reclaimers already offer to improve recovery rates.”

Looking Ahead

Refrigerant reclaimers are also keeping an eye on the future, as the HFC phasedown will herald a new era of low-GWP refrigerants that are mildly flammable (A2L). Houghton is looking forward to the future.

“We are excited about the growth opportunities for reclamation as well as the significant environmental benefit of the use of reclaim over virgin refrigerants. Reclaimed refrigerant continues the conversation about sustainability and can directly support customers’ sustainability goals.”

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