Installation of automatic leak detection equipment

The installation of automatic leak detection systems is mandatory for systems that contain 300 kg or more of HFC refrigerants.

What is an automatic leak detection system?

The regulation defines a leakage detection system as:

"A calibrated mechanical, electrical or electronic device for detecting leakage of fluorinated greenhouse gases which, on detection alerts the operator".

What type of leak detection system is appropriate?

The regulation is not more specific about the type of leak detection that would be considered satisfactory. It is believed that two main types of system could be considered. These are:

  • A sniffer type system that uses one or more sensing points to continually check for the presence of leaked refrigerant in the atmosphere near to the refrigeration system.
  • An indirect type of system that measures certain system parameters and interprets these to identify the possibility of leakage. For example, this could consist of a level sensing device in the liquid receiver vessel linked to an intelligent system that is able to judge whether fluctuations in level are indicating a steady leak.

The best type of system will be very site-specific. If a plant is located in an external and windy location it is likely that the sniffer type devices will prove ineffective and indirect system is more appropriate. Conversely, if a plant is completely contained within an engine room then sniffer detection could be the most effective.

Annual testing of leak detection system

The regulation specifies that the leak detection systems installed on large systems must be checked at least once every 12 months to ensure proper functioning. The check must be made by someone with an appropriate qualification.

Change to frequency of leak tests

Where a permanent automatic leak detection system is fitted the frequency of the regular leak checks that are mandated by the regulation are halved, subject to a minimum frequency of every 12 months. This means that for systems with over 300 kg the leak check frequency is every 6 months rather than every 3 months. Similarly if a leak detection system is fitted on a small plant between 30 and 300 kg then the leak testing frequency will be every 12 months instead of every 6 months.

Required Qualifications

The regulation specifies that personnel carrying out leak detection device testing must be suitably qualified. At this stage the qualifications required to carry out this task are still unclear. The Commission is trying to agree a framework that will help specify minimum requirements. These will need to be transposed into national legislation in each Member State of the EU. Further information about qualifications will be posted on the Figaroo website as soon as possible.

Implementation Date

The requirement for fitting automatic leak detection systems on plants above 300 kg begins in July 2007.