Industry Insight
15 October 2020

Take Care and Respect the Humble Cylinder

For more than 25 years, A-Gas has supplied gases to the heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry. Refrigerants are an essential part of modern life and play a critical role in many industries, including healthcare, fire protection, transport, food production and supply. But it is easy to forget how this key product makes its way from A-Gas to end users’ equipment safely and efficiently.

As the HVACR industry has moved through waves of regulatory change, A-Gas has continued to invest in its cylinder fleet to ensure that all types of refrigerant  – whether it be low GWP refrigerants, flammable products or high pressure service gases such as Oxygen Free Nitrogen – are available to the customer.

Our strict internal policies and procedures ensure that all cylinders contained within our fleet meet approved specifications and safety standards. If a cylinder is purchased new from a recognised supplier or is an existing cylinder within our fleet, our team are fully trained to internally and externally inspect cylinders to ensure this essential piece of equipment is fit for purpose and safe.

Typically, a refrigeration engineer will deal with three sizes of refrigerant cylinders from A-Gas – 14.3 litres, 27 litres and 62 litres – but don’t misunderstand this as the fill size. The quantity of product contained within a cylinder is determined by our Quality and Compliance team and will vary depending on its properties. I recommend that installers always check the label for the product type and the cylinder stamping or sleeve for the contents weight before using any cylinder.  

A-Gas also has a fleet of dedicated recovery and receiver cylinders and these are types of cylinder that I am sure most installers are familiar with. They have been specifically designed to suit the product you are handling and standard recovery cylinders, fluorinated recovery cylinders (R32), HFO and hydrocarbon receivers are all part of the product portfolio.

It is relatively easy to distinguish between a recovery and a receiver cylinder. A recovery cylinder handles the dirty gases the installer no longer requires and has a yellow top. After the cylinder is returned to A-Gas we will analyse the contents in our state of the art, in-house laboratory. We will then decide if the gases inside need to be separated, cleaned and re-used, or disposed of safely.

Returning reclaimed refrigerants to the market is a key part of our business. The use of reclaimed refrigerant allows the industry to adhere to the F-Gas Regulation as the amount of virgin gases available diminishes. Making up this shortfall with reclaim also allows the circular economy to flourish as we look to make better use of what we have already and reduce our carbon emissions.

Receiver cylinders used by engineers to recharge a system have a yellow top with a black ring. At A-Gas, these cylinders are decanted, internally cleaned, and inspected for oil contamination before reaching the installer. We also check for moisture and rust which can have an effect on the contents inside.

This allows the engineer to return the existing product to the system without concern that it may be contaminated.

Regardless of the type of cylinder you are using, do not exceed the stated safe weight when recovering the gas. The figure is stenciled on the cylinder or printed on the cylinder sleeve. You should also make sure you complete all the F-Gas records.

Care should be taken when handling and transporting all types of pressurised cylinders. The shroud and valve of the cylinder are two areas which are particularly sensitive and prone to damage.

No other equipment should be connected to the cylinder while in transport and the cylinder valve should always be closed and capped to reduce the risk of leaks. Installers should always ensure that cylinders are fixed securely in the back of vans and ideally – for safety reasons – the vehicles should have a bulkhead separating the storage area from the driver. It is not mandatory but it is preferable to have the rear area ventilated too.

Engineers must return all empty cylinders to the supplier. The challenge most contractors face is keeping control of the cylinder fleet and associated rental costs. All A-Gas cylinders have a unique barcode which enables full tracking of the cylinder. We use this barcode to ensure the cylinder follows our internal processes and, for the customer, this barcode can be used in their fleet management process.

One of the functions of the A-Gas Gas-Trak Online™ (GTO) F-Gas app is the cylinder management tool allowing the contractor to track individual cylinders. Dates and locations are included in the reporting feature, which makes it easy to monitor via the traffic light system.

This signals which cylinder is where and when rental charges are likely to be incurred. Gas-Trak Online is used to great success by A-Gas customers who have recognised the value of having a cylinder management tool to help them.

Handle cylinders with care and respect, follow industry guidance and best practice. Contractors should also adopt procedures for managing and controlling a cylinder fleet and associated costs from the outset. If you are unsure about this, ask your refrigerant supplier for more advice. The team at A-Gas is always happy to help.

If you also need more advice on transportation, refer to best practice guidance notes on safe storage and handling of pressurised cylinders. More information on this and cylinder management can be found on our website www.agas.com. You can also contact us on 01275 376600.