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Honeywell moves to block HCFC exemptions in Europe

By Patrick Raleigh UT On-line/news editorWeert, The Netherlands-Honeywell is appealing to the European Commission in a bid to stop urethane insulation makers gaining exemptions from a ban on the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC) blowing agents. Honeywell’s argument is that there is a commercial solution available [its own HFC-245fa] and that foamers have had eight months to switch to this product, said Tim Vink, Honeywell’s director for regulatory affairs, based in Weert, near Eindhoven. The EC, he added, should not reward companies that have not moved away from HCFCs.The issue is linked to production problems at Solvay Fluor und Derivate GmbH, which, like Honeywell, supplies hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) alternatives to HCFC blowing agents. The latter products have been banned in the European Union since the start of the year under the EU’s ozone depleting substances (ODS) regulations. The ban has led most insulation producers, particularly building panel makers, to switch to pentane-based alternatives. However fluorinated blowing agents were still used in applications requiring higher fire resistance or insulation performance, such as refrigerated transport, cooling cabinets and industrial plants. There are currently two main fluorinated blowing agents on the market; Honeywell’s product and HFC-365mfc from Solvay. Another key player Atofina supplies pentane-based blowing agents but has also continued to produce HCFC-141b for areas exempted from the ODS rules.Since the start of the year, however, Solvay has been forced to limit production from its HFC facility in Tavaux, near Dijon, France, due to feedstock supply difficulties. This has prompted foamers to seek exemptions from the HFC-141b ban under the terms of the ODS regulations, said Vink. The European rules allow EC Member States to grant exemptions from the ban on HCFC141b in cases where there is no technical alternative, Vink explained in an 11 Aug telephone interview.”We have a responsibility to customers who have made the expense to switch away from HCFC-141b. Many people have made a lot of effort [to comply with the regulations] and we don’t believe that the exemptions are justified,” commented Vink. The Commission is not expected to decide on the issue before 1 Sept, according to the Honeywell director.”

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