Flammable refrigerants in road transport EN 378
Headquarter of the European Commission, Berlaymont building in Brussels, Belgium.

Europe Plans New Standard for A3 Flammable Refrigerants in Road Transport and Revision of EN 378

The EU is also planning a revision of EN 378, to ensure a bigger uptake of flammable refrigerants in road transport and the RAC sector.

The European Commission (EC) announced plans on February 2 to develop a new standard for the requirements and risk-analysis process for refrigerating systems that use flammable refrigerants for the transport of temperature-sensitive goods by road. The EC said it also intends to revise parts 1, 2 and 3 of the four-part EN 378, the European standard for safety and environmental requirements in refrigerating systems and heat pumps, as well as to create a completely new part 5 on safety classification and information about refrigerants.

This was all described in item 21 on natural refrigerants in the annex to the EC’s “2022 annual EU work programme for European standardisation.” The item referred to the EU F-Gas Regulation (2014), which is under review this year.

Notably, the item said that the objective of these moves would be “ensuring an easier and bigger uptake of natural refrigerants in the RAC sector, which would reduce the environmental impact of such appliances.” The EC added, “this can make EU companies in this sector more competitive.”

Hydrocarbon rules in EN 378

EN 378 covers the design, manufacture, construction, installation, operation, maintenance, repair and disposal of refrigerating, air-conditioning and heat-pump systems and appliances. The standard includes rules on hydrocarbons, such as allowing hydrocarbon charges up to 1.5kg (3.3lbs) in commercial display cases if rigorous safety precautions are taken. Every installation using EN 378 charge limits has to have a specific risk assessment for each system location.

This standard has been invoked by U.K. retailer Waitrose, which employs display cases that include between 300g and 1,000g (10.6oz and 2.2lbs) of propylene (R1270) charge per circuit, depending on the size and type of fixture.

The EU also has product-specific standards regulating use of hydrocarbons, including EN 60335-2-89 for commercial cases and EN 60335-2-40 for air-conditioning and heat pumps. The -89 standard is expected to be updated soon to allow higher charge limits of hydrocarbons (up to 500g – 1.1lbs).

The EC is required to publish an annual EU work program for European standardization. This is to ensure “that EU products and services are competitive worldwide and reflect state-of-the-art safety, security, health, environmental considerations and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” the EC said.

In recent years industry stakeholders, EU-funded projects as well as research institutions have highlighted the obstructing effect outdated standards can exert on the market for flammable natural refrigerants.

“[These actions] would ensure an easier and bigger uptake of natural refrigerants in the RAC sector, which would reduce the environmental impact of such appliances.”

European Commission

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