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Monday, April 19, 2010

Indsutries With A Centralized Refrigerant Gas Management Program Always Have The Edge

Indsutries With A Centralized Refrigerant Gas Management Program Always Have The Edge

By: Daniel Stouffer

The United States and a host of other foreign countries are focusing on fugitive emission tracking for certain industries. The goal is to identify the amount of substances that are emitted into the atmosphere when a refrigerant gas leak occurs. This will give government officials at the EPA a better understanding of the amount of greenhouse gases harming the environment each year and contributing to global warming due to the ineffective management of refrigerant gases.

Any unexpected leak of substances which are hazardous with failure to contain discharge in a stack, duct, or vent results to fugitive emissions to occur. This could be the result of an equipment leak, a problem during maintenance operations, a breakdown in bulk handling or processing, or a problem in an industrial process. Refrigerant gas leakage would cause the harmful gases to get into the atmosphere. There are specific refrigerant gases which end up released in the stratosphere as these can't be broken down in the atmosphere, which eventually destroy the ozone layer.

In the United States alone, fugitive emission totals for a year are over 300,000 tons CO2e. Other countries have similar or worse outputs. To curtail the adverse effects to the ozone layer of the accidental leak of the substances, stringent regulations have already been implemented in order to reduce and eliminate such over time. To improve the quality of the air in the long run, there are additional goals which can help reduce global warming through the reduction of the refrigerant gas emissions.

A select few refrigerant gases have multiple detrimental effects on the environment. Not only are they ozone depleting substances but they are also chemicals with a high global warming potential (GWP) which places them into the category of greenhouse gases which lead to global climate change. There are more than enough reasons to find ways to effectively track, monitor, and report usage of refrigerant gases.

The EPA has finalized its rules pertaining to any fugitive emission occurrence, whether through evaporation or a leak. The regulations apply to several industries, including existing and newly constructed facilities with systems using refrigerant gas in their workplace heating and cooling systems. Other industries are industrial chemical manufacturing, electric services, pulp and paper mills, and petroleum refinancing.

Facilities that produce or use fugitive emissions are required to track harmful substances. The EPA has identified a number of dangerous compounds, among them chloroflurocarbons, hydrofluorocarbons, methyl bromide, halons, methyl chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride.

A particular concern for fugitive emission problems is with refrigerant gas, because it contains chloroflurocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons, two primary contributors to the weakening of the ozone layer and the increase in greenhouse gas volumes. Moreover, industries which use systems for fire protection, ventilation and air cooling, refrigeration and cooling units use refrigerant gas.

EPA requires enterprises to track refrigerant leak rates and submit annual refrigerant use for any fugitive emission. Fugitive emissions in particular are defined in carbon emissions reporting protocols as one of four emissions scopes that will be regulated. It is important that the severity of the leak and the repair process is documented. In addition, regulations require regular inspections of equipment or processes that involve volatile chemicals.

The new fugitive emission regulations provide a more standardized approach to thresholds identified by the U.S. EPA directs the Clean Air Act. These include continuous monitoring, tracking of leaks, and reporting of leak repair, and containment.

To prepare for this requirement, many companies are using automated, rather than manual, processes, in particular refrigerant gas tracking software programs and web-based applications created by companies who specialize in the area. They ensure compliance and reduce the likelihood of substantial fines.

About the Author

Sustainability Resource Planning (SRP) platform for carbon emissions and refrigerant gas tracking, energy efficiency, sustainable asset management, and water conservation. Increased greenhouse gases regulations are causing significant challenges and impacts to business operations, brand management, and fiscal accountability. Learn more at http://www.verisae.com/articles

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