Pratley & Partners

What is Fluorinated Gas and Why Do We Use It

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

You can’t walk more than a hundred yards in any busy city and not be close to some piece of machinery that uses fluorinated gas. For a start, it’s found in the majority of refrigeration devices. If your office block has air conditioning too, F gases will almost certainly be present.

What is Fluorinated Gas?

Fluorinated gas is not one gas but several. They are all manmade and are used in a wide variety of commercial and industrial applications. The main ones you’re likely to come across every day are:

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)

The fridge in the corner of your kitchen, the commercial freezers you find in food production companies and heat pumps and air conditioning are all places where you’ll find HFCs in some quantity. They are used even more nowadays because previously used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were found to have an impact on the ozone layer and so have largely been phased out and replaced.

Perfluorocarbons (PFCs)

These are less common but you’ll find them in various electronics. They are also used in the drugs manufacturing industry. The big factor that makes fluorinated gas such a useful thing in modern society is its ability to cool stuff down. In fridges it works by a process of condensing and evaporating the refrigerant that produces the cooling effect. In devices like heat pumps, the process works in reverse so that you get a warming rather than a cooling effect.

When depletion of the ozone layer was found to be affected by the old CFCs, a new solution had to be found, not least because so many things were using the gas. While HFCs are not ideal, as they do also contribute significantly to global warming, they are less harmful. While there are moves to phase them out in the future, for the moment most businesses you come across that have refrigeration or ventilation systems will be using these gases.

By law, any company that uses equipment which incorporates HFCs needs to have an F Gas Company Certificate. That means they have to undertake regular maintenance and checks carried out by a qualified gas safety operative. Inspections have been mandatory since the turn of the decade and all businesses are required to keep up to date records. Failure to do so can lead to large fines and even prosecution.

Workplaces Need First Class Ventilation

Of course, with devices that contain gases such as HFCs, every building needs to be properly ventilated to ensure the safety of staff . A well maintained system shouldn’t leak but that doesn’t mean businesses don’t have an obligation to be prepared just in case. All workplaces are required by law to have adequate ventilation.

Pratley & Partners are experts in delivering ventilation solutions for offices and businesses. We’ve got plenty of experience dealing with a range of partners, including architects and construction companies as well as individual businesses. With over 50 years’ in the industry, we’re one of the market leaders in the UK today.

Contact us today if you would like to find out more.

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