Following a meeting of the Australian Trucking Associations Industry Technical Council (ITC) ,the ATA has issued a warning to businesses that cheaper refrigerant gases have the potential to ignite in truck systems.
Companies should be aware of the safety risk associated with the use of cheaper alternative hydrocarbon-based refrigerant gases, is the message from the ATA following the meeting of its Industry Technical Council (ITC).
Encompassing experts from all areas of the trucking industry, the ATA’s Industry Technical Council also wants to improve trucking equipment, truck maintenance and maintenance management, mainly by sharing knowledge and ideas.
As ATA Senior Advisor – Engineering Chris Loose pointed out, the cheaper alternative gases may ignite when used in vehicle air-conditioning systems, mainly because they have been designed for use with specialised automotive refrigerant gases. Those refrigerant gases that are endorsed by manufacturers are actually safer because they have a low fire risk. Some of the newer products available are also easier on the environment.
He also warned companies that some repairers were using the cheaper alternative gases when re-gassing systems. He went on to explain:
“However, some after-market repairers will ‘re-gas’ refrigeration systems using cheaper, hydrocarbon-based refrigerant gases, often sold as M30.
“These hydrocarbon gases are highly flammable, and pose a significant safety risk in these systems. In one case, an Australian heavy vehicle driver suffered burns after the re-gassed air-conditioning system in his truck ignited.
Operators should be cautious of low-cost re-gassing services. Its best to ensure that all air-conditioning and refrigeration systems are using the refrigerant gas product recommended by the manufacturer. The ATA cautioned the industry of the importance of being careful when having the system re-gassed,
“To our knowledge, no heavy vehicle in Australia has ever been designed to use these gases. Vehicle owners using these businesses may not even be informed that their system is being re-gassed using M30 rather than the recommended refrigerants.
The use of any other cheaper gas may “spell disaster for trucks, drivers and operators” the ATA warns.
Mr Loose concluded by stating that:
“No matter the cost saving, these [other, hydrocarbon-based] gases are not worth the risk.”