EPA mandates proper refrigerant gas recovery processes

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- By:

Courtesy of Verisae

New EPA regulations require facilities that use air conditioning and refrigeration equipment to have a refrigerant recovery plan in place. The plan is needed to make sure that any harmful gases that might leak are captured. Refrigerant gases contain hydrochlorofluorocarbons, known to cause severe damage to the ozone layer and to promote global warming.

A comprehensive plan is now in place to phase out environmentally harmful refrigerants. The refrigerant recovery process will help facilities whose existing equipment requires refrigerant. As new refrigerant will be banned in future, gas recovery is necessary to meet the demand amongst companies who do not plan to immediately replace their existing equipment.

Refrigerant recovery has several purposes including recycling, reclamation, and destruction of hydrochlorofluorocarbons. Harmful emissions will be reduced, the need for new refrigerant eliminated and the market opened for used gas.

Refrigerant recovery involves taking the refrigerant from a cooling or refrigeration system and placing it safely in a container. This can take place when equipment is being discarded or when refrigerant vapor has to be eliminated in order to capture and contain the release of the harmful gas.

Whilst refrigerant recovery is generally handled internally within commercial refrigeration, air conditioning systems and HVAC systems, new EPA regulations insist that facilities monitor and track recovery rates. Certain software vendors specialize in this area and can offer programs which automatically handle this.

The federal government is to conduct audits to ensure the proper refrigerant recovery is being conducted. If complete information is not submitted on time, heavy penalties will result. Many companies are now switching from manual processes, which can be time-consuming, to more efficient automated efforts.

Large commercial or industrial facilities require specialized equipment or techniques due to their high volume of refrigerant recovery. Some programs can be used on site, such as a cylinder pump down service to transfer refrigerant from the system to a cylinder. The cylinder exchange program allows a distributor to arrange for the processing of refrigerant through a reclamation company. A clean cylinder is received in exchange.

During a retrofit, refrigerant recovery can be implemented, and recycled to service other equipment. The refrigerant is tested for purity after being removed from the system at a approved facility. Following approval it is shipped to recycling facilities.

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