R-410A Prices Double, With More Hikes Likely

January 1, 2017

Airgas Refrigerants is seeing prices of R-410A spike weekly, with some manufacturers publishing two prices increases per week. These are resulting in increased prices to contractors and end customers, right at the beginning of the air conditioning season.

Airgas advises customers to quickly consider their current inventories of R-410A and plan for a potential shortage of this refrigerant this season. Already some manufacturers are imposing allocations and limits on orders.

The price increases are being caused by a shortage of R-125, a blending component of R-410A.

This chemical is produced in the US, but the most significant supply comes from China. Currently, the Chinese manufacturing industry has experienced a reduction in manufacturing materials and capacity, as Cooling Post reported during the week of May 15 in an article detailing how the rising prices of Fluorspar, a raw material used in the production of components for all refrigerants, is affecting refrigerant prices.

“Fluorspar prices have risen by nearly 40% since February, leading to increases in China of around 60% in the price of R-22 and R-134a, a 130% increase in the price HFC component R-125, and a massive 160% rise in the cost of R-32,” the website article states.  R-125 and R-32 are components of R-410A.

“The increases are blamed on new environmental constraints in China on both fluorspar mining and in the production of hydrofluoric acid. Since the end of 2016 China’s environmental law enforcement efforts have been significantly strengthened. As a result, the production of products like hydrofluoric acid, a highly corrosive chemical, has come under new environmental protection and safety requirements,” the article continues.

“With China supplying over 50% of the world demand for fluorspar, the increases are likely to put further pressure on refrigerant prices…”

U.S. Industry Held Back

This past year, U.S. manufacturers argued that Chinese refrigerants were being sold at unfair market prices.  The International Trade Commission (ITC) voted to apply antidumping duties to HFC blends including R-410A and R-404A, but not to the individual components that make up the blends, including R-125. The American HFC Coalition subsequently contended that the ITC’s decision regarding HFC components creates a loophole in the antidumping order on HFC blends. As a result of the ITC ruling, many U.S. manufacturers decided not to produce much R-125 as it would not be cost-competitive.

Even with rising prices for R-125, U.S. manufacturers will need time to ramp up manufacturing of more of this component.

Contact your Airgas Refrigerants account manager today at ARF-Contact.us@airgas.com or 800 473-3766 for the latest pricing on R-410A and other popular refrigerants.