Updated Facts on 2015 HCFC-255 Usage Ban

This white paper is based on an original Techspray publication written by Lindsey Shelton.

On January 1, 2015, HCFC-255, or AK-225, will be banned for usage under the Clean Air Act per Montreal Protocol. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations surrounding this common precision solvent are more complex than they appear in the agency's seemingly straightforward statement. This white paper offers clarification in reference to the HCFC-225 phase-out and its impact on consumers.

Background

In 1974, Mario Molina and Sherwood Rowland discovered that chlorofluorocarbons cause depletion of the ozone layer (they would later receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for these findings in 1995). Their research led the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to call an international conference regarding the issue, and shortly thereafter the United States banned all non-essential use of CFCs as propellants in aerosols. In 1987, 24 countries signed The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, which mandated that all developed countries would begin the phase-out of CFCs in 1993 and reduce usage to 50% by 1998. In the years to follow, more than 190 countries would sign the agreement. In 1997 a timeline for the phase-out of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) was created under the Montreal Amendment with a 90% reduction requirement for their usage by 2015. This protocol is enforced in the United States under the Clean Air Act, which was amended in 1990 to include Stratospheric Ozone Protection. The EPA has been appointed to enforce these regulations.1, 2

What is HCFC-225?

A mixture of HCFC-225ca and HCFC-225cb isomers, it is commonly found in solvents like AK-225 for precision cleaning. With good solvency and thermal stability, AK-225 is ideal for vapor degreasing applications. Non-flammable and exempt of smog-producing VOC compounds, it features low acute toxicity and low viscosity, high density, and low surface tension. AK-225 also has the ability to form azeotropes, or mixtures that act as a single chemical with physically unique and constant properties. While useful as a solvent, AK-225 must be phased out due to the presence of HCFC-225ca and HCFC-225cb.3

 

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