Flags flying in front of the European Commission building in Brussels.
European Union flags flying in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. Photo credit: CristiDumi for Shutterstock

European Commission Publishes Proposed Natural Refrigerant, F-gas Training Certificate Regulation

The proposed regulation is open for public comment until June 10.

The European Commission has released a proposed regulation that would establish minimum requirements for certification programs for engineers working with natural refrigerants – specifically CO2 (R744), hydrocarbons and ammonia (R717) – and f-gases, as mandated by the recently revised EU F-gas Regulation.

The scope: Under the proposal, a certificate would be required to conduct leak checks, install equipment and to repair, service and decommission equipment using fluorinated or natural refrigerants, the latter of which are referred to as “alternatives” or “alternative substances” by the Commission.

  • The equipment covered includes stationary refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pumps.
  • Organic Rankine cycles, refrigeration units in refrigerated trucks and refrigerated trailers, and refrigeration units of refrigerated light-duty vehicles, intermodal containers and train wagons are also included in the proposal.
  • The regulation would also apply to third parties that install, repair, maintain or decommission equipment using f-gases or natural refrigerants. Equipment manufacturers would not be subject to the regulation provided manufacturing, repairing or “related activities” are done “at the site of the manufacturer.”

Individual certificates: Under the proposal, five certificate types would be created. EU member states would be allowed to issue individual or combined certificates specifying the specific activities covered:

  • Certificate A: required to work with f-gases or hydrocarbons
  • Certificate B: required to work with CO2
  • Certificate C: required to work with ammonia
  • Certificate D: required to work with equipment containing less than 1kg (2.2lbs) of f-gases
  • Certificate E: required to do work on f-gas equipment that does not require “breaking into the refrigeration circuit”

Course content: The Commission has proposed that, to earn a certificate, applicants must pass practical and theoretical examinations organized by an “independent” and “impartial” certification body. Exams can also be organized by an “evaluation body” designated by the certification entity.

  • The annex to the proposal lays out the exam content, which is grouped into 14 categories and classified as being part of the theoretical or practical test.
  • All certificate types will feature theoretical and practical questions from the same seven categories, which include the environmental impact of refrigerants and relevant environmental regulation, information on relevant technologies to replace or to reduce the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases and their safe handling, and checks for leakage.
  • Those seeking certificates to work with natural refrigerants will be required to answer test questions from refrigerant-specific categories.
  • In addition, those seeking Certificate A will have to answer at least two questions related to the specifics of natural refrigerants and the energy efficiency of natural refrigerant equipment and complete at least one practical exercise involving natural refrigerants.

Feedback period: The EU Commission is soliciting public comments on the proposed regulation, which can be made until June 10 at 11:59 pm CET.

ATMOsphere’s involvement: ATMOsphere, the publisher of NaturalRefrigerants.com, advocated for mandatory training and certification on natural refrigerants alongside the Clean Cooling Coalition (CCC) during the recent revision process of the EU f-gas law. CCC is composed of European HVAC&R companies that view the rapid reduction of fluorinated substances as crucial to achieving the EU’s carbon-neutrality targets by 2050 and ensuring a high level of environmental protection.

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