Wilhelmsen Ships Service is equipped for the complex changeovers that the Montreal Protocol will demand when it comes into law on December 31, 2009.

After this date, the European Union will not permit ships’ crews to maintain, service or top up any refrigeration systems containing R-22 or other ozone depleting HCFC refrigerants using virgin refrigerant. The directive applies to all EU flagged vessels.

If the systems are not interfered with in any way, these ozone depletants may be retained. However, planned routine maintenance on various system components like compressors, condensers, driers etc is the key to enabling a system to operate efficiently without the risk of costly breakdowns.

With this in mind, Wilhelmsen Ships Service advises that the most economical solution to stay compliant with the regulations is to replace the existing R-22 with a suitable, non ozone-depleting alternative such as Unicool R417A. R-417A has very similar working parameters in marine applications to R-22, and the changeover does not require costly system modifications. Other R-22 replacement alternatives are available (R-407C, R-404A, R-419A, R-134a, R-422D, R-427A, and more) but these options will demand costly modifications and have limited thermal properties.

Recognizing the limitations of the vessel’s crew in handling such an important project, Wilhelmsen Ships Service offers qualified and highly skilled refrigeration technicians to handle these retrofits. The company’s worldwide network has successfully performed more than 1,300 such changeovers in recent years, both during dry-dockings and on vessels whilst they were in service. By sailing between ports and completing the project at sea, there are no interruptions to the day-to-day functioning of the refrigeration systems, or delays for the ship. Wilhelmsen Ships Service ensures safe and legal destruction of the old R-22 as part of their Enviro-Return Management Program.

On average, each project takes between five to 15 days. Ship owners are advised to plan their changeovers in good time to meet the deadline of December 31, 2009.