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Policy

Vladivostok, Russia

500g hydrocarbon charge limit moves closer After a long road, the International Electrotechnical Commission’s 150g charge limit for hydrocarbon commercial refrigeration equipment looks set to increase to 500g. — By Klara Skačanová

T

he present international standard for hermetically sealed commercial refrigeration equipment (IEC 60335-2-89) – set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) – limits the use of flammable refrigerants to 150g. It is commonly accepted by experts that this limit does not allow manufacturers or end users to fully exploit the safe application of hydrocarbon refrigerants in the commercial refrigeration sector. To address this, the Working Group SC61C/WG4 was created in 2014 with a view to raising the recommended charge limit for flammable refrigerants. After some three years of intense work, the working group has now approved the proposed text to amend the IEC standard, marking an important step in the process of standards development. Standards from the IEC, a worldwide body that proposes rules governing how to use electrical, electronic and related technologies, influence

the development of the market by providing manufacturers and customers with guidelines as to what is safe to use and buy. During a meeting on 7 October in Vladivostok, Russia, IEC subcommittee SC61C decided to advance the draft amendment of the IEC 60335-2-89 standard for commercial refrigeration, prepared by Working Group WG4, to the next stage in the process (the Committee Draft for Vote; CDV). The final version of a draft amendment, which proposes to increase the propane charge limit to 500g, was prepared in October. The proposed charge limit is based on 13 times the low flammability limit (LFL) of propane. To ensure safety, the draft amendment will require a minimum amount of space in which the system can be placed. Systems will also have to pass a leakage test that shows the relative absence of flammable concentrations throughout the system, besides other construction requirements.

The charge limit increase will cover all safety classes of flammable refrigerant, but with different limits. Nevertheless, the international standard amendment that could raise the charge limit for propane to 500g is still a long way from being finalised. The CDV will be circulated for comment and voted upon by all national committees within the IEC in December 2017 at the earliest. A vote on the CDV is expected in the first half of 2018. Provided that more than two-thirds of the committee members vote in favour, the draft will go to final approval (FDIS; Final Draft International Standard) by the end of 2018 following the SC61C committee meeting in Busan, South Korea in October 2018. A new version of the IEC standard is expected at the beginning of 2019. KS

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