Case Study
28 September 2017

A-Gas completes cruise ship recovery job

The value of having the right equipment for the job has been highlighted after A-Gas recovered large quantities of the refrigerants R22 and R422D from a cruise ship while the vessel was still at sea.

It was possible to keep HVAC systems running on the Grand Princess, with 2600 guests and a crew of more than 1000, off the coast of the USA over three days as the work took place without causing inconvenience to the passengers.

The Grand Princess needed a new heating and cooling system and the refrigerant recovery project was an important part of the refurbishment. The work was commissioned after A-Gas Australia was contacted about the job by its wholesaler Airefrig following an inquiry by a locally based business.

A-Gas suggested employing recovery and reclaim specialists from its Rapid Recovery subsidiary based in California. This met with the approval of the customer and the North California Rapid Recovery team, run by Matt Jahn and Derek Oosterhouse, were given the contract to recover the refrigerant from chiller systems on board the 107,517 tonne vessel.

Rapid Recovery was launched in the US to provide an outsourced refrigerant recovery service to contractors. A-Gas bought the company last year and the service is now available to customers in the UK.

A-Gas International Commercial Director Ken Logan takes up the story: “It was a big project with a tight timescale but thankfully we had the North Californian team on hand to tackle it.

“Not only did we have to recover large quantities of refrigerant – around a metric tonne of R22 and around two metric tonnes of R422D ­– it had to be completed within the confines of a working vessel at sea.

“We were aware that it costs a fortune to keep a cruise ship idle in port and this would have been the case with the Grand Princess if we had handled the job on shore. So that was out of the question.”

The logistical challenge was a tough one and good planning was key to ensure the project was completed on time and to the exact specification of the end user. Ken Logan explained: “Everything new had to be loaded on to the ship before it left port and when the job was completed the old gases and equipment removed after the vessel had returned to port.

“The work was taking place with the passengers on board. So a back-up system was installed to ensure that there was heating and cooling. The work did not interfere with the operation of the vessel in any shape or form.

“Time and money is so important in a job on this scale. The Rapid Recovery equipment has the ability to recover refrigerants ten times faster than any other conventional, off-the-shelf type of system. 

“This provides a massive saving to the customer, adds real value to the work we are doing and in this case gave the contractor the ability to remove and replace large amounts of gas while the ship is on the move.

“The X-factor is the purpose-built mobile equipment we use to cope with these larger systems. It has been tried and tested for more than ten years and has been employed on similar jobs of this size. Using off-the-shelf equipment it would have taken many days to complete but our custom-built recovery equipment ensures that all of the gas is removed and none is left over to vent into the atmosphere.”

The old refrigerant from the Grand Princess has been reclaimed to AHRI 700 standard. This means that the need for new product on the market is lessened and a more holistic approach is adopted which benefits the environment and ultimately all end uses. The new system on the vessel is running on R134A.

In the business of recovery and reclamation shipbreaking is also providing new opportunities for A-Gas. New international laws are forcing owners and operators to raise their game in how they dispose of what’s left of old vessels and this includes restricted gases used onboard in refrigeration and air conditioning and other ozone depleting substances including Halons employed for fighting fires at sea.

Maritime work is a growing sector for A-Gas worldwide and one that they hope will extend its reach into the oil and gas industry where rigs are being decommissioned and used gases have to be recovered.

Ken Logan added: “Pressure on resources is rising across the globe and so optimising each part of the recycling process is becoming increasingly important. It is in the interests of the industry wherever it is to recover all of the refrigerant and send it back up the supply chain.”