In a recent YouTube video, Dupont Global Business Manager Greg Rubin, and Jim Bachman, national sales and marketing manager, offer insight into the various challenges facing the HVACR industry, and DuPont's answers to help its customers face those challenges. Those challenges include counterfeit refrigerants, the ongoing — and possibly, soon-to-be accelerated —R22 refrigerant phaseout, supply challenges, and global economic questions. The video was provided as a prelude to DuPont's appearance at the 2012 AHR Expo, held January 23-25, at Chicago's McCormick Center.

“We've taken a variety of steps this year to combat the problem of counterfeit refrigerants globally and will prosecute these cases to the fullest extent allowable,” Rubin says. “DuPont will continue efforts to educate the industry on the problems posed by counterfeit refrigerants in the marketplace and will be vigilant in our investigations to uncover the source of counterfeit materials.”

DuPont has developed a multi-faceted program to address counterfeit refrigerants, including education of customs officials and overt and covert tactics to ensure the authenticity of DuPont refrigerants.

Regarding the economy, companies are "hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst," says Greg Rubin.

“Our DuPont Brand Assurance Anti-Counterfeiting Initiative is an area where we will concentrate resources globally in the coming year,” Rubin continues. "To ensure you are buying genuine DuPont products, it’s important to purchase refrigerant from a trusted source, such as a DuPont distributor who is part of our preferred supplier network. If you observe suspicious activity in the marketplace or have any questions related to your refrigerant product, contact your DuPont representative."

For more on the DuPont anti-counterfeiting initiative, visit this link.

"Even as our market faces continuing challenges, including uncertainties in the global economy, regulatory changes, and raw material headwinds, DuPont Refrigerants remain strong and poised to work with our customers for a successful year," Rubin says. On the economic front, Rubin says companies throughout DuPont's value chain are conserving cash and minimizing inventories, "hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst." This mindset, Rubin says, provides DuPont and its value chain partners opportunities to provide significant value to customers, to help them work through economic uncertainty. Rubin says those issues will be addressed by constant communication up and down DuPont's value chains to ensure customers have the right product in the right place at the right time.

Rubin describes the regulatory environment as fluid.

“While regulations can be a positive or negative for our business, regulatory uncertainty is stressful for everyone" he says. "DuPont remains actively engaged with regulatory communities both in the U.S. and globally, as we work to help shape our future versus allowing our future to be shaped for us."

Opteon XP10 on the Horizon
In the regulatory/developmental arena, Rubin says DuPont is addressing the sustainability of its portfolio of non-ozone depleting refrigerants, and is developing a new lineup of products based on lower global warming potential refrigerants. Its Opteon XP10 is getting the most attention, which is described as DuPont's first next-generation candidate for stationary refrigeration and air conditioning applications.

"Opteon XP10 is a more environmentally sustainable refrigerant innovation, with benefit of lower GWP that is close to 600. It’s non flammable, and is a very close match in properties and performance to HFC R134A," Rubin explains. "This similarity of performance will enable an efficient transition in new equipment. Development continues with Opteon XP10 in a hybrid system for supermarket applications, with Opteon XP10 used for medium temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) used for low temperature systems. This hybrid system design will provide supermarkets with a 90% reduction in direct carbon emissions, and a minimum 50% reduction in total carbon impact, compared to direct expansion technology currently using R404A."

According to Rubin, Opteon refrigerant will be available sometime over the next three to five years.

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"Opteon XP10 represents the first in a number of new products DuPont is working on to prepare ourselves and our customers for a lower environmental footprint world that surely lies in our future," Rubin says.

Will They 'Give Some Gas' to the Phaseout?
In a separate commentary, DuPont's Jim Bachman says the HVACR industry is now at a critical point in the R22 phaseout, due to low industry reclamation activity against the supply of virgin R22.

"As an industry, we knew R22 was going away, but because many end-users have yet to feel the reductions in supply, necessary steps haven’t been taken to reduce the industry’s overall dependence on R22," Bachman says. Among the developments now teetering on a razor's edge in 2012, the U.S. Enviromental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) recently published a proposed rule that would reduce allowances to produce and/or import virgin R22 for servicing existing equipment in 2012 by between 20% to 45% versus 2011 levels, with similar reduction through 2014.

"These reductions are being proposed to reduce the industry's reliance on virgin R22, and to drive growth in R22 reclamation in order to achieve an orderly phaseout of R22," Bachman explains. "We believe it's prudent for the industry to anticipate the maximum reduction case proposed by the EPA, and to plan accordingly. Many end-users are still considering the appropriate way to manage the R22 phaseout, and they need assistance to plan and prepare, to ensure business continuity.

Bachman says DuPont advocates the use of the "Five Rs":
• Reduce leaks
• Retrofit R22 equipment to an HFC alternative refrigerant
• Recover refrigerant properly
• Reclamation by a professional reclamation company back to the refrigerant's ARI700 specifications. DuPont offers a reclamation service, and information is available at DuPont distributors.
• Replace equipment once it has outlived its useful life.

Bachman says the retrofitting option will become increasingly important as the virgin R22 supply is reduced in 2012. DuPont Isceon MO99 is a suggested DuPont solution as a quick and compatible switch to replace R22.

Other refrigerants are also available from other formulators.