Refrigerant Reclamation is key for refrigerants with GWP >2500Climalife UK
A good reclamation strategy can ease the transition to low GWP refrigerants.
The recovery of HFCs from refrigeration and air conditioning systems is mandatory under the F-Regulation to prevent emissions of high GWP refrigerants to the atmosphere.
From the 1st January this year it became illegal to use virgin refrigerants with a GWP >2500 for servicing stationary refrigeration systems except where the system operates below -50°C or where the system charge is below 40 CO2 eq tonnes (eg 10.2 kg of R-404A).
Reclaimed or recycled product can still be used for servicing, but the availability of these high GWP refrigerants will be dependent on systems being converted or replaced and demand for reclaimed product not exceeding the amount that comes back for re-processing over the next few years.
Refrigerants with a GWP over 2500 include R-404A, R-507A, R-422A, R-422D, R-428A and R-434A. Whilst it is expected that reclaimed R-404A will be available in 2020, some of the other refrigerants may not be as easy to obtain from all suppliers.
Many of our customers have found that an easy way of creating reclaimed product is to convert existing systems to an alternative lower GWP refrigerant with R-448A and R-449A being the most popular conversion refrigerants, as they are proving easy to use for those familiar with conversion procedures.
The recovered product is then returned to us for reprocessing for re-use as reclaimed product in other systems that may be less practical to convert.
The Reclamation process
All recovered product is returned to our filling plant at Swansea, adhering to the Hazardous waste regulation procedures along with correct documentation, with the site holding a waste licence to reprocess refrigerant.
All recovered refrigerant returned to us is typically out of specification for moisture content, acidity and high boiling residue such as particulates.
After initial analysis to confirm product identity it is re-processed by a combination of distillation, cleaning and drying processes back to AHRI 700 specification which is the same conformity as virgin product. This enables it to be placed on the market as regenerated product and it will perform in exactly the same way as virgin product.
The F-Gas legislation requires that all cylinders containing reclaimed or recycled product must be labelled as such, have a batch number and identify where it was re-processed to facilitate traceability. All F-Gas records that are kept by a user also need to record that reclaimed or recycled product was used and where it came from.
How is Recycling different from Reclamation
Recycling is putting the recovered refrigerant through a basic cleaning process and usually means there is no analysis or quality assurance attached to the product in terms of specification or purity. As a result, it may not perform in the same way as virgin product or reclaimed product and the risk is with those using it. If recycled product leaves the site it was recovered at, a hazardous waste note to transfer it is required.
For peace of mind, best quality and system operation, it is recommended that recovered product is bought back to ARI specification by reclamation. We don’t just reprocess high GWP refrigerant but all common A1 HFC refrigerants.
A gradual replacement strategy
With the 2020 bans now upon us, if you or your customer does not have a strategy or plan for equipment running on high GWP refrigerant over 2500 GWP Climalife can help you find a new solution to put in place.