Real Alternatives webinar launches another key training opportunity – and it’s free

By Robert Davidson, Mar 26, 2015, 17:23 3 minute reading

On the 19th March, Real Alternatives launched their new blended learning platform, which seeks to educate engineers and the general public on safety concerns and lessons regarding hydrocarbons and other natural refrigerants to ensure that the use of hydrocarbons can grow confidently and widely in the wake of new F-gas Regulations.

Through a blend of videos, didactic material and online assessments; Real Alternatives is looking to fully immerse users in how to ensure safety when using hydrocarbons. The impetus of the project is a reaction to the new F-gas regulations being imposed in the European Union and the new requirements organisations are facing as well as the subsequent demand this will place on engineers. Through the dispersion of information via Real Alternatives, it is hoped more engineers will be trained and available, meaning organisations will be able to make informed decisions about their future refrigerant use.

Real Alternatives: a response to a need for training

Following on from their Real Zero programme – an initiative to help reduce the amount of refrigerant leakage – the Real Alternatives programme looks to solve new emerging issues; such as how to accommodate the increased demand for specialised hydrocarbons personnel in the midst of recent phasedowns in the EU as well as other continents coming to grips with the technology. The participation of stakeholders from the HVAC&R industry shows the interest in this subject, with AHT, Dorin and Embraco all stakeholders.

The need for education was illustrated by a survey carried out by Real Alternatives in 2014, which showed that the level of sufficiently trained personnel in the use of natural refrigerants was generally low with:

  • Ammonia – 15.22% replying they have 80%-100% work-staff with good knowledge compared to 75.99% of respondents who have less than 50%.
  • Carbon Dioxide – 8.7% possessing 80%-100% work-staff with good knowledge with CO2 compared with 80.43% who have less than 50%.
  • Hydrocarbons – 23.91% who have a staff of 80%-100% competency compared with 63.04% replying that have less than 50%.

In the same survey, Real Alternatives noted that on average, of the alternatives to high-GWP HFCs, workforces feel most prepared for the use of hydrocarbons compared to carbon dioxide, ammonia and HFOs.

The place of hydrocarbons in the post-HFC world and how Real Alternatives will help

The webinar did not simply serve as an introduction to the course, but also provided valuable information on the current climate for hydrocarbons and natural refrigerants. Ray Gluckman, of Gluckman Consulting, talked about where these new alternatives will fit in: with hydrocarbons being seen as the clear heir for domestic and commercial refrigeration applications, due to their already impressive history of widespread use in the United Kingdom. Jane Gartshore of Real Alternatives followed suit, putting forward sound arguments for the use of hydrocarbons and other natural refrigerants, as well as looking at the restrictions imposed currently and the potential problems this may cause.

In addition to this webinar, Real Alternatives intends to further increase the sphere of knowledge regarding the alternatives and have compiled a comprehensive library of extant material regarding alternative refrigerants in addition to their on-going course. This dissemination of information will build a more skilled workforce able to meet the incoming demands for experience of working with and servicing hydrocarbons and other natural refrigerants.

About Real Alternatives

The Real Alternatives programme is a Lifelong Learning Programme funded by the EU and will look to address engineers’ skills regarding natural refrigerants and low-GWP HFCs. The main skills that will be addressed are safety, efficiency, reliability and containment aspects of both service and maintenance. Their website is available in five languages.


By Robert Davidson

Mar 26, 2015, 17:23

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