News
31 March 2020

The Essentials of Refrigerant Recovery

A-Gas Rapid Recovery Head of Sales and Operations, John McEvoy, explains why recovery has a key role to play as the refrigeration industry aims to make further reductions in the use of high GWP virgin refrigerants.

There are some hard yards ahead for the refrigeration industry if we are to meet the expectations of the F-Gas Regulation. The timetable laid out on the road to 2030 sets out how we can make large cuts in the production and use of high GWP virgin refrigerants.

This year, from January 1, virgin refrigerants with a GWP of 2500 or greater can no longer be used in new installations. Maintenance has also been affected as systems with a charge size of 40 tonnes CO2 equivalent or greater – more easily understood as around 10kgs of R404A – cannot be serviced using virgin material with this high GWP.

Further, substantial cuts in the use of virgin HFC products will happen in the years ahead.

Some manufacturers have already announced that they will no longer sell virgin R404A – once the go-to gas for supermarkets. To meet the needs of different users, A-Gas continues to supply virgin and certified reclaimed R404A.  If you are working on systems with less than 10kgs of R404A, virgin R404A is still an option but supplies are limited and we are urging installers and end-users to make the switch to reclaimed gases – or low GWP alternatives – as soon as they can.

For larger systems the use of virgin R404A is not legal, so reclaimed R404A must be used or the system retrofitted to an alternative gas.  This means that under the quota mechanism refrigerant recovery and reclamation has grown in importance to allow end-users to keep existing high GWP equipment running.

The importance of conserving every kilogram of refrigerant should not be underestimated. This is where refrigerant recovery has such a vital role to play. In recent years, refrigerant recovery techniques and processes have come on leaps and bounds. A clear example of this is the success of A-Gas Rapid Recovery – launched in the UK in 2017.

Rapid Recovery has a team of engineers who are fully equipped to go on-site at short notice and undertake recovery jobs of all sizes. The equipment can recover refrigerants up to ten times faster than the conventional recovery methods and the team take responsibility for all aspects of the recovery work – from start to finish – including the hazardous waste documentation and electronic job-site reporting, using our custom-built Gas-Trak Online software.

If you are completing recovery jobs in-house, it is essential that best operating practice is always followed. Effective and safe recovery requires comprehensive risk assessments to be in place prior to the job starting. It is critical that engineers performing the recovery job are F-Gas certified and are experienced in dealing with the system. Having the right paperwork and relevant site inductions to prove their competence is a key part of any recovery job to prevent risk to themselves, their customer or the environment.

Engineers should ensure they are aware of and follow the manufacturer’s installation and operating instructions while working on the system. The correct gauges, hoses and cylinders need to be on hand to ensure that the job can be executed safely and efficiently.

A-Gas supplies recovery and receiver cylinders suited to the product you are handling – standard recovery cylinders, fluorinated recovery cylinders (R32), HFO and hydrocarbon receivers, are all part of the product portfolio. If you are unsure about what you require, please do not hesitate to contact A-Gas for further help. 

If you are not using a service like A-Gas Rapid Recovery and you are recovering refrigerant yourself, you will need to complete all the necessary hazardous waste paperwork. You will need an authorised waste transfer note to transport and remove the waste from site and to return the recovered product to the wholesaler.

To date, our industry has responded well to the request to re-use refrigerants. The amount of recovered refrigerant returned to the market is increasing and leakage rates continue to drop. In this respect, I believe we can look forward to the future with confidence.

To find out more visit A-Gas Rapid Recovery