New fluorinated gas legislation from the European Union means that from July UK refrigerant gas manufacturers must adhere to strict regulation.

Under the previous system, contractors would be able to top up leaking refrigerant systems but from July 4th, this will change. The f-gas guidelines will require contractors to work within a tightly regulated system of containment to ensure refrigerant leaks are repaired quickly and effectively, all leak repair work is logged and systems are subject to a timetable of regular checks depending on the size of refrigerant charge.

The wording of the European statute requires owners to first prevent leakage of fluorinated gases, second to repair any detected as soon as possible and finally check the leak repair within a month to ensure it has been effective.

Article three of the law also sets out the following timetable for systems to be checked for leaks: at least every 12 months for systems charged with more than 3kg of fluorinated gas (hermetically sealed systems 6kg); every six months for systems carrying 30kg or more; every three months for systems containing 300kg or more. Monitoring equipment is required for systems of 300kg plus and should be tested annually.

Within the industry, companies are already responding to the challenge and new products are emerging to help detect and contain leaks as soon as they happen. BOC Refrigerants product manager, Logan Colbeck believes the new legislation represents a shift in focus and responsibility saying, $quot;Under the f-gas regulations the onus for ridding refrigerant systems of leaks lies squarely with the 'owner/operator' and with a rigorous regime of reporting in place the pressure to contain leaks will be paramount.$quot;

BOC are offering one such solution with their newly developed nitrogen/helium leak detection mix. They claim that their new mixture can detect much smaller leaks due to the size of the test gas molecules. They explain that because helium molecules are far smaller than nitrogen they are better able to pick up small leaks in a refrigeration system. Therefore, combining two gases -nitrogen and helium - means the mix is capable of detecting any refrigerant leak.

The company hopes this new product will help cut leaks and repairs, as well as the expensive technician call out time associated with them, for many of their UK customers. Furthermore, Colbeck is confident that the mixture can deliver saying, $quot;testing with the new BOC mix shows that accurate detection helps ensure repairs are robust, and by removing the time and effort associated with topping-up, will prove highly effective for anybody whose business relies on efficient refrigeration.$quot;