The ecologic transition leads to use gases classified as belonging to higher risk classes: this applies to ATEX standard, to the Fire Prevention Code, to the PED Directive and also to voluntary, but at the same time very important, regulations in the refrigeration sector, such as EN 378.
When the risk class rises, it is quite natural to think that we need useful knowledge to manage it, to avoid it turns into event and damage.
Flammability, explosivity, toxicity and the high work pressure are factors that deserve being under full control, to give operational serenity to those who daily work with substances and plants implying higher risk aspects than the one managed in the past.
Therefore, it is worth considering the state-of-the art of competence and of know-how and comparing them with the requirements that such an impetuous ecologic transition generates in the very short term: the answer to the initial question is “no, there are not enough people who know”.
We have ascertained it in really broad, episodic situations, as well as spread on the territory: already the lowest of the stairs’ steps rising towards the plant’s management complexity, mildly flammable gases, constitutes a source of concern for many, who currently do not know how to face in practice the new generation of usable gases.
Let us add that also the gas that we have indicated as the “least dangerous”, CO2, proposes a feature, an almost triple work pressure compared to fluorinated gases, which creates a series of severe consequences, in piping, in maintenance, in loss risks and in the provisioning requirements of which we talked last autumn, consequences that have a burden in terms of intellectual capital of aware use of more sophisticated technical tools.
Another risk highlighted in a less technical, but as significant, front is represented by the asphyxiation theme, which is duly to point out, especially in presence of high quantities released in a short lapse of time. It is a risk amplified by the characteristic of this gas of being about 1.5 times heavier than air, which determines the fact that therefore CO2 tends to stratify towards the bottom, with the possibility of permeating and accumulating in ditches or depressions in the ground, precisely causing the risk of asphyxiation.
Besides, let us not forget that carbon dioxide has been and still is a workhorse in the commercial refrigeration, that ambit where the operational continuity is a must and the missing cold an economic and hygienic-sanitary damage of outstanding impact: skilful work in the field of refrigerated plants with this fluid is an almost contextual requisite to the availability of plants and equipment, to prevent the environmental impact reduction from exerting delicate operational consequences hardly managed.
Today, few are the skilled technicians to install, to maintain, to repair and to run efficiently and efficaciously ammonia, propane and carbon dioxide plants that are imagined by the legislator as replacements in the short term of the universe of fluorinated-refrigerant plants installed on the national territory.
Nobody doubts that there are applicative fields where these alternative, non-patented and “natural” refrigerants are also efficient, but efficiency as well is a function where the plant operators’ competence is a determinant variable and only high competence can produce high efficiency.
Efficiency is therefore an issue that once more changes the “artfully done” question, because it orients it towards a direction of measurability not only of the performance, but also of the engaged resources, energy and technical resources, creating that balance between initial spending and management spending.
It is true that the article 10 of the text of the Regulation speaks of training on fluorinated and alternative gases but– once more – the regulation comes into force with an “everything and immediately” timing, but skills are not created with the same speed, unfortunately.
Besides, some of these skills, as we have already said, concern safety, a theme that should be priority for the legislator, work safety and safety for all those who live, operate and pass around plants of this new nature, refrigerated with flammable or toxic fluids. In this case as well, the game is open, because the technicians trained on these matters are really fewer than those needed to satisfy the environmental ambitions of whoever is writing this law.