You should also call one or more reclaimers who will transport the refrigerant elsewhere for disposal or reclamation. Reclamation entails disassembling and purifying chemical components. Some reclaimers may refuse to take contaminated or mixed refrigerants in quantities less than 500 or 1,000 pounds. Be sure to find this out before you send anything into disposal.
Refrigerant is a term used to describe any of several chemicals that are used as heat-transfer agents in refrigerators, air conditioners, and other thermal systems. Refrigerants are either flammable or nonflammable and can be classified by their physical properties, such as liquid or gas. Over time, refrigerants break down as they are used, causing them to become toxic. For example, when chlorine-containing refrigerants such as dichlorofluoromethane (CFC-12) are released into the atmosphere, they destroy ozone molecules from oxygen in the air. Ozone is known to protect people's lungs and hearts from damage caused by airborne particles.
When refrigerants are released into the environment, they can lead to environmental contamination. This occurs when substances come into contact with refrigerants during storage or use and then enter the environment. For example, if refrigerant leaks into soil it could enter groundwater. The EPA recommends that you don't release refrigerants into landfills because they will eventually leak into the ground water supply.
Remember that recycled refrigerant can only be reused in the system from which it was collected, or in any other system owned by the same equipment owner. Only recovered refrigerant can be resold or utilized in another owner's system. Recycled refrigerant has no commercial value.
Refrigerant sold for reuse has usually been cleaned of oil and other contaminants prior to being reinjected into the market. This purified refrigerant is called "refrigerant recharge." For example, if the original refrigerant charge was R-22 and it is now available for reuse as R-410A, then this refrigerant will not work in a system designed for R-22. Before it can be reused, the R-22 must be further purified by a refrigerant recovery facility. During this process, any remaining oil or moisture will be separated out and sent to a landfill.
Commercial refrigerants are classified according to their environmental impact. If you own a business and are considering what type of refrigerant to use, it is important to understand the impacts of each one so you can make an informed decision about your business' future refrigeration needs.
Compressor lubricating oils are the main cause of ozone layer depletion. They contain high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are toxic substances that can enter our environment through landfills or when they are burned.
Getting Rid of Contaminated Refrigerants The best technique to recover contaminated or unknown refrigerants is to dedicate an impure refrigerant-only unit to the task. Some manufacturers also provide recover-only devices intended to remove these refrigerants. Other techniques include using a purification system with adsorbents such as activated carbon, or employing chemical reactions to change the composition of the refrigerant.
Refrigerant that contains water, oil, or other substances can't be reused. It must be replaced with new refrigerant. Disposing of this material follows federal law. Contact your local environmental protection agency for instructions on disposal.
The penalties for leaking refrigerant into the atmosphere may be up to $27,500 per violation per day. If the individual who released the refrigerant is convicted, the EPA may reward up to $10,000 to the person who notified them of the infringement.
Refrigerant gases are toxic when they enter the environment. They can cause serious health problems if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Refrigerant gases include diazo compounds such as methyl chloride and ethyl chloride, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) such as trichlorofluoromethane (CF3CHCl), dichlorodifluoromethane (CDF), and chlorodifluoromethane (HCFC-22), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) such as HCFC-22, carbon dioxide, and ammonia.
When refrigerants leak, they can enter the atmosphere, causing environmental damage and potential human health risks. Leaking refrigerant may travel down the street in clouds of gas or liquid that can evaporate into the atmosphere or flow into nearby homes through plumbing repairs. It may also find its way into local water sources through discharges from cooling equipment.
If you release refrigerant into the atmosphere, you could be fined up to $27,500 per incident and your company could be required to pay additional damages.
Refrigerant Removal After Arrival at Your Facility If you do not compel your customers to remove the refrigerant from any equipment before it arrives at your site, you must do so before burying, shredding, or disassembling the item at your facility. The refrigerant should be removed in a closed system, without exposing it to air.
The process of removing refrigerant from an appliance is called "destroying" the refrigerant. Once the refrigerant has been destroyed, it cannot return to the atmosphere. Instead, it must be disposed of properly.
People may ask why you would destroy the refrigerant after it has been removed from the device. The reason is that if the refrigerant is not destroyed, it can eventually enter the environment through landfill sites or leak into ground water where it can cause serious damage to the ecosystem.
The two main methods for destroying refrigerant are incineration and chemical neutralization. Both methods will completely destroy the refrigerant so there is no residue left over to contaminate the environment.
Incinerating refrigerant is the most effective way to destroy it. The carbon-based molecules in the refrigerant will first be burned off, which will produce heat. The hotter the fuel is, the more efficient it will be at destroying the refrigerant. Refrigerant can also be destroyed by using heat from natural sources such as the sun or earth's core.