The replacement of cooling chillers that use ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons is expected to nearly reach the halfway point this year, according to a survey of large tonnage liquid chiller manufacturers by the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute. By the end of the year, about 39,440 (49%) of the 80,000 CFC chillers in service in the early 1990s will be replaced or converted.

Chillers cool water that is circulated through buildings to air condition offices, hospitals, malls, airports, factories, sports complexes, government buildings and institutions such as colleges. New, non-CFC chillers reduce electricity costs because they can be at least 40% more efficient than the CFC units installed 20 years ago. In 2000, non-CFC chillers reduced electricity usage by 7 billion kilowatt-hours per year, saving $480 million and avoiding production of 4 million tons of carbon dioxide by power plants.

During 2000, there were 3,235 CFC chiller replacements and 913 conversions to non-CFC refrigerants. ARI stated that, at the current pace, it will take at least until 2010 to eliminate chillers that use CFC-11 and CFC-12, the most widely used refrigerants.