F-Gas Compliance For Leak Detection and Reporting
If you operate stationary refrigeration or air conditioning systems in Europe, you are required to ensure refrigerant leaks are checked, repaired, and reported regularly as part of the F-Gas regulations. Failure to follow F-Gas regulations can result in fines up to £200,000 in the UK.
F-Gas Regulations and Emissions Reduction
The European Union introduced F-Gas Regulations (EU 517/2014) as part of an overall HFC phasedown initiated by the UN Montreal Protocol in 1987 and the Kigali Amendment in 2016. The objective of F-Gas is to reduce production and consumption to over 80% by 2047.
The responsibility for the legislation falls on owners and operators to:
- Reduce emissions
- Ensure that leak checks are carried out (see our blog post for refrigerant leak detection)
- Repair any leaks as soon as possible
- Arrange proper refrigerant recovery
- Reporting of maintenance records of any refrigerant losses, additions, and servicing
Reduce Emissions: Low-Level Leak Detection
Low-level refrigerant leaks often go unnoticed until it’s too late and refrigeration equipment begins to fail through loss of charge. The sooner a refrigerant leak is detected at low-levels, the sooner it can be repaired. Early repairs means minimizing refrigerant loss and thereby reducing the environmental impact and operating risks. However, detecting low-level refrigerant leaks can be difficult as there are a number of mitigating factors: air flow, refrigerant density, and relative refrigeration equipment location.
Detecting Low-Level Refrigerant
Aspirated, infrared systems are most effective for detecting low-level refrigerant leaks. Aspirated systems provide monitoring with the lowest comparable Minimum Detectable Level (MDL) and provide the highest level of accuracy down to 1 ppm (parts per million). An aspirated system is cost effective for monitoring larger areas, as the system draws samples from different locations around the site to a single gas detection unit. What’s more, an aspirated system can be connected to an automated alarm and notification system for effective reaction and response times.
Reporting of Maintenance Records
For F-Gas compliance, equipment operators and owners are required to maintain precise records including inspection details for each piece of equipment. Equipment records must specify:
- the quantity and type of F-Gases installed;
- the quantities of F-Gases added during installation, maintenance or servicing or due to leakage;
- whether the quantities of installed F-Gases have been recycled or reclaimed, including the name and address of the recycling or reclamation facility and, where applicable, the certificate number;
- the quantity of F-Gases recovered;
- the identity of the undertaking which installed, serviced, maintained and where applicable repaired or decommissioned the equipment, including, where applicable, the number of its certificate;
- the dates and results of the checks carried out during leak checks;
- if the equipment was decommissioned, the measures taken to recover and dispose of the F-Gases.
Where required, these records should be made available to the regulator or the European Commission for up to 5 years. It’s therefore important to have an effective refrigerant reporting system so that records can be easily updated and reports produced at a moment’s notice. Although spreadsheets, paper-trails and building management systems can provide possible solutions, they do not offer the flexibility, accuracy and ease of use that a specialist system can provide.
Automatic Leak Detection
For F-Gas compliance, facilities with stationary equipment over 5 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e) requires regular inspection and calibration. Inspection frequency can be halved if Automatic Leak Detection (ALD) is installed. Where refrigeration systems have 500 tCO2e or more, ALD is mandatory. F-Gas regulations define ALD as, “a calibrated mechanical, electrical or electronic device for detecting leakage of refrigerants which, on detection, alerts the operator”. The following table outlines the equipment inspection requirements.
|Charge Size of Equipment (tCO2e)||Leak Detection Requirement||Leak Detection System Inspection / Calibration Frequency||Equipment Leak Check Frequency (Without ALD)||Equipment Leak Check Frequency (With ALD)|
|5 - 50||Optional||12 months||12 months||24 months|
|50 - 500||Optional||12 months||6 months||12 months|
|≥ 500||Mandatory||12 months||N/A||6 months|
Solutions for F-Gas Compliance
For early, low-level refrigerant leak detection, Bacharach provides the Multi-Zone fixed system which provides industry-leading low-level detection down to 1 ppm. What’s more, the Multi-Zone aspirated system allows you to cost-effectively cover multiple high-probability leak points across your facility from a central point. The Multi-Zone automatic leak detection unit provides reduced maintenance requirements for your facility when compared to non-ALD installations.
Should a leak be detected within a specific area of your facility, the Bacharach portable PGM-IR provides specific leak detection with pin-point accuracy. The PGM-IR helps you find leaks faster with the PPM scale guiding technicians to the leak. Bacharach’s PGM-IR also enables technicians to stay in the room indefinitely, as there is no need to leave the facility to ‘re-zero’ the detector.
Bacharach also provide software solutions for F-Gas compliance. The award-winning Parasense software will provide F-Gas compliant refrigerant leak tracking and reporting. The software can also help identify problem equipment across your whole enterprise, help you keep track of leak repairs and automating regulatory tasks.
Low-Level Leak Detection Solutions
|Fixed or Portable||Fixed||Portable|
|Integration with BMS / BAS control system||Modbus, BACnet, LonWork and analog communications||N/A|
|Integration with Parasense Refrigerant Tracking and Compliance software||Can integrate directly with the Parasense refrigerant tracking and reporting software||No|
|MDL||1 ppm||1 ppm|
|Remote placement of sensors/sample points||Up to 1,200 ft from leak detection monitor||N/A|
|Sensor Typical Life Span||Up to 10 years||Up to 10 years|
|Maintenance (functional test / calibration)||Annual *||Annual|
|Sensor channels||1 – 16 channels **||1|
|User Interface||Large graphic LCD display and user menu keys||Large graphic LCD display and on-board controls|
|Find out more||Find out more|
* Industry standards, local building codes or AHJs (Authorities Having Jurisdiction) may require a calibration or a ‘bump’ test after installation and then annually.
** Expandable up to 48 sample points
F-Gas Compliance Reporting Solutions
Bacharach’s award-winning Parasense software provides F-Gas compliance for refrigerant leak tracking and reporting. Parasense can also be used to help identify problem equipment across your whole enterprise. What’s more, the refrigerant leak tracking and compliance software will help you keep track of leak repairs and automating regulatory tasks:
- Task compliance calendar: any up-coming actions and required compliance tasks are automatically scheduled by the compliance calendar.
- Leak rate calculations: whenever refrigerant is added to an appliance, the 12 month rolling leak rate must be calculated. This is automatically carried out in the Parasense platform along with scheduling a leak check if the threshold is exceeded.
- Regulation workflow: the regulation workflow has been carefully designed to distill regulations into clear processes, procedures and tasks that are easy to understand and follow.
- Reporting: Inspections can happen at any time, unannounced. When this happens, it must be simple for site managers to swiftly and seamlessly provide correct and accurate reports.
If you are responsible for keeping track of refrigerant then you know full well how important it is to have a system that’s both easy to use and reliable. However, have you ever considered other systems that are currently available or if you are new to refrigerant usage tracking – where should you start?