Why Is Refrigerant Detection Important?
There are a wide variety of gases and chemicals used as refrigerants in the cold storage, refrigeration and freezer sectors, as well as in any industry or workplace where air conditioning is in place. These gases provide a vital service in cooling the environment in question, but can pose a variety of problems if a leakage occurs.
For that reason, it’s extremely important that site owners ensure leakages are identified as quickly as possible.
Perhaps the most immediate concern for a site owner is the effect that a refrigerant leakage will have on the ongoing performance of their plant. If a leakage occurs, the compressors in the cooling unit will have to work overtime in order to compensate. In the best-case scenario, this will still result in increased energy consumption and the greater costs associated with it.
In the worst-case scenario, it can lead to overheating of the equipment, causing damage to hoses, seals and other fittings. Potentially, this could escalate and result in a total breakdown of the machinery, meaning the entire site might have to close for hours or even days at a time. As well as the loss in revenue this would precipitate, it would also incur the costs of locating the leak and fixing it.
As well as damaging a company’s bottom line in the short term, a refrigerant leak can also result in much bigger environmental consequences in the long run. That’s because refrigerants can contribute to global warming and climate change. Meanwhile, the decreased energy efficiency mentioned above is also detrimental to environmental performance.
Polluting refrigerants which damage the ozone layer are now in the process of being phased down or phased out completely, but monitoring of ammonia and other modern replacements with a lower global warming potential (GWP) is still necessary to avoid unwanted environmental outcomes.
Last but certainly not least, the polluting consequences of a leaking refrigerant mean that it’s now a legal requirement for companies to conduct regular testing on their cooling equipment to detect any leaks as early as possible. The exact regulations vary depending on the size of the plant, the type of refrigerant being used and the country in which it is located.
For example, the UK has imposed strict regulations surrounding the monitoring of plants, facilities and other sites which use F-gases in their cooling processes. The law requires that such tests be conducted on an annual, biannual or quarterly basis depending on the scale of its operations. However, it’s sensible for a company to carry out refrigerant monitoring on a far more regular basis than that for all of the reasons explained above.