Following its concerns earlier this year that inferior refrigerants had been entering the local market, the Southern Africa Compressed Gases Association (SACGA) is urging caution on all refrigerant purchases in future.

The SACGA noted in a recent Gas Focus newsletter that one of its members had identified an increase in inferior refrigerants entering the South African market.

It’s thought that the global increase in demand for refrigerant R134a, which exceeds supply, has created both a shortage of raw materials and an increase in prices. As a consequence of this two-fold impact, sub-standard product is suggested to be entering the market.

Since then, the association’s Gas Focus newsletter has noted a spate of exploding refrigerated containers that have been reported in Brazil, China and Vietnam. These explosions have apparently caused the deaths of several port workers and the accidents have forced the grounding of thousands of refrigerated containers by international shipping lines.

Pure R134a containing methyl chloride (R40) in a cocktail refrigerant may be responsible for the explosions and the deaths of the workers.

According to the association, a leading international compressor manufacturer has named methyl chloride as a constituent in fake refrigerants which have been responsible for an increasing number of compressor breakdowns.

“We once again urge all refrigerant users to purchase from reputable suppliers and insist on certificates of analysis/conformance with these purchases, so as to ensure first and foremost their safety and, secondly, that the products are indeed what is being paid for,” the SACGA stated in Gas Focus.

“This should go a long way towards minimising any local havoc that has occurred elsewhere in the world. We are aware that this dangerous cocktail has surfaced locally so we caution all refrigerant users to be extremely careful when sourcing refrigerant. Insist on quality – don’t compromise.”