Peddling of counterfeit refrigerant is nothing new, but following a high profile case in the Middle East, Honeywell continues to raise awareness of the dangers of fake coolant. Paul Collett talks to Paul Sanders, MD, Honeywell Fluorine Products.
The trade in counterfeit goods is an on-going battle to raise awareness with buyers and end-users as to the public health and environmental dangers. In the refrigerants’ sector, the impact of non-regulated replacement products finding their way into air conditioning, chiller and plant cooling systems can be, literally, poisonous.
To counter the trade, Honeywell has been waging an on-going campaign to prevent infringement on its intellectual property portfolio for a number of years. Unlicensed products at trade shows have been seized and, notably, in the Middle East a warehouse was raided in Deira, Dubai, last November.
In the following question and answer, Climate Control Middle East brings you the lowdown on counterfeit refrigerant.
Which products specifically should the HVACR sector be on the lookout for?
HVCAR professionals will be well aware of our Genetron 134(a) refrigerant cylinders, used throughout fridge systems as well as air conditioning. This product is a single component HFC refrigerant that replaced CFC-12 in many cooling applications. Refrigerant R-134a holds an A1 ASHRAE safety classification, and can be used to replace CFC-12 in existing HVAC systems, or to service R-134a systems.
Honeywell also invented and patented R-410A and its use in air conditioning and other applications. This technological innovation has since become the globally accepted standard for use in new residential and light-commercial air conditioning systems.
In addition to R-410A, Honeywell has patents relating to the following refrigerants: R-404A, R-408A, R-507, R-236fa and 245fa.
So what’s in the counterfeit products, and what’s the health and environmental upshot?
Generally, substandard components are used which have not been tested or certificated. This means performance is below par – very damaging for chillers and refrigeration plants and, of course, industrial, domestic and tower air conditioning systems.
We breath the air these systems pump out, and facility and operations managers can be looking at costly repair or replacement as the gases are not fit for purpose and, in some cases, highly flammable and toxic. You, then, have to factor in downtime, costs and the potential for spoiled goods. Not forgetting the impact on the environment from CFCs and their negative impact. The major issues really are safety, performance and the environment.
How do you differentiate between counterfeit and genuine products?
We carry out tests in two stages: the first is to check the cylinders themselves in terms of packaging, the cylinder and security markings; the second is to test the chemical contents at our laboratory.
Counterfeit goods carrying the Honeywell brand can’t be good for business…
Honeywell quite rightly wants to protect its trading name. We have invested substantial resources to develop and commercialise our refrigerant technology. We have demonstrated we will take the necessary action to ensure that others respect our intellectual property, and we’ll continue to do so.
How does Honeywell take the fight to the fakers?
Working closely with our distributors, partners and representatives we gain market intelligence and engage with relevant local authorities. In partnership, we identify the target and arrange a sting operation. This takes time and costs money, but we enjoy strong cooperation with local enforcement agencies, which is critical to successful operations.
What is the future of counterfeit busting?
Counterfeiters are becoming more sophisticated all the time. But we have the resources and the desire to continue our fight, take the goods off the streets and out of harm’s way. We also have the experience, intelligence and support of the authorities, and are confident we can keep up the pressure on the fakers. In fact, that is our mission.