It’s very unlikely that in that project Drawdown, the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming, we would have expected Refrigerant management ranked as the number one solution among so many other options around the world.
In every corner around the world people use refrigerants in form of one way or other, may it be the refrigerators, Air-conditioners or cold storage.In a way, it now comes with a daily use material.
Before the invention of modern-day refrigerants, previously every refrigerator and air conditioner contained chemical refrigerants specifically CFCs and HCFCs, which were once culprits in depleting the ozone layer, that absorbed and released heat to enable chilling. The ozone layer depletion caused cancer risks and other negative effects due to sun’s UV rays.
But thanks to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, they have been phased out. HFCs, the primary replacement, spare the ozone layer but have 1,000 to 9,000 times greater capacity to warm the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.Thus causing a huge impact on the increment of global warming of the planet.
As a result, Non-A5* countries completely abandoned the production of CFCs by the end of 1995. CFCs were then replaced by less harmful HCFCs, which were, however, later restricted under the Montreal Protocol. For new equipment, HCFCs are to be phased out almost entirely by 2020 in non A5 countries and by 2030 in A5* countries. Also, the HCFCs which are used for servicing air conditioning or refrigeration equipment will be totally phased out by 2040.
* Developing countries are categorized as operating under Article 5 of the Montreal Protocol. (Referred to as “Article 5 countries.”) However, any country that was a non-Article 5 country in the original draft and later changed is excluded.
Schedule of Reduction for HCFC Consumption Volumes
There has also Rapid Increase in Air Conditioners in A5 countries due to their economic expansion.If emerging countries select a refrigerant with more negative environmental impact in terms of Carbon Dioxide emissions resulting from greater energy use and higher GWP(global warming potential) than the current refrigerants as an alternative, global warming will increase significantly even if ODP( ozone depletion potential) is reduced. In addition, the longer we wait to take action, the more severe the negative impact will be in the future. It is thus an urgent requirement that we find and adopt an appropriate solution to mitigate future total global warming without wasting any more time.
Thus in October 2016, officials from more than 170 countries met in Kigali, Rwanda, to negotiate a deal to address this problem. Through an amendment to the Montreal Protocol, the world will phase out HFCs—starting with high-income countries in 2019, then some low-income countries in 2024 and others in 2028. Substitutes are already on the market, including natural refrigerants such as propane and ammonium.
Scientists estimate the Kigali accord will reduce global warming by nearly one degree Fahrenheit. Still, the bank of HFCs will grow substantially before all countries halt their use. Because 90 percent of refrigerant emissions happen at end of life, effective disposal of those currently in circulation is essential. After being carefully removed and stored, refrigerants can be purified for reuse or transformed into other chemicals that do not cause warming.
Refrigerant management can be undertaken in five main ways:
(i) Lowering the demand/use of appliances and thereby production of refrigerants.
(ii) Replacing refrigerants with low-warming HFCs/new cooling agents/non-HFC substances.
(iii) Increasing the refrigeration efficiency in appliances, thereby lowering the use of refrigerants.
(iv) Controlling leakages of refrigerants from existing appliances by good management practices.
(v) Ensuring recovery, reclaiming/recycling, and destruction of refrigerants at end of life.
The Drawdown solution models the lasts two options.
The total carbon dioxide-equivalent reductions that can be achieved from 2020-2050 in the Plausible scenario are 89.7 gigatons, with a net operating cost of US$902.8 billion. The Drawdown Scenario optimizes recovery factors and destruction rates, showing a mitigation of 96.5 gigatons from 2020-2050, and the Optimum Scenario also shows a mitigation of 96.5 Gt.
Some Innovative Indirect Solutions
- DISTRICT HEATING
In district heating and cooling (DHC) systems, a central plant channels hot and/or cool water via a network of underground pipes to many buildings. Heat exchangers and heat pumps separate buildings from the distribution network, so that heating and cooling are centralized while thermostats remain independent. Rather than having small boilers and chilling units whir away at each structure, DHC provides thermal energy collectively—and more efficiently.
2. Heat Pumps
Project Drawdown defines heat pumps as: high-efficiency electrical devices that harvest latent heat from ambient sources such as the ground, air, or water for use in the conditioned space via the compression and expansion of a working fluid (refrigerant). This solution replaces new and existing conventional heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, including gas- and oil-fired furnaces, gas- and oil-fired boilers, room air conditioners, central air conditioners, electric resistance furnaces, and electric resistance unit heaters in both residential and commercial applications.