By Nick Gilbert
Airgas, a distributor of refrigerants, specialty, medical and industrial gases, and producer of atmospheric gases, has launched an automated refrigerant reclamation technology called the Airgas Refrigatron system.
Ben Hart, Refrigatron Analyst at the Airgas Refrigerants, Inc. Smyrna, GA plant, uses the multiphase Refrigatron(TM) system to analyze and recover used refrigerant gases to then be reclaimed to 99.8 percent purity and resold. (Photo: Airgas, Inc.)
The system helps identify the contents of the refrigerant gas cylinders that are returned. It is an economical and safe reclamation process that is not labor intensive.
The Airgas Research and Development group in Cheshire has designed and built the system. The first system was installed at Airgas Refrigerants’ plant in Smyrna, GA.
The Airgas Refrigatron system initially analyzes and recovers used refrigerant gases. These are then reclaimed to a purity of 99.8% and then resold. The standard operating procedures are automated. Further, various processes such as moving, analyzing, evacuating and storing are streamlined. For moving cylinders, two zero-gravity lifts are used. Two in-line gas chromatograph mass spectrometers are used to derive ARI-700 specifications and these are recorded. Usage of mass spectrometers provides higher accuracy and helps reduce about 45 minutes of testing time for each cylinder.
The refrigerant gases are evacuated to 10,000 lb storage tanks and stored for purification. In an average shift operated by two persons, around 130 cylinders may be tested and emptied, which will help evacuate around 7000 lb of refrigerant.
At the Airgas Refrigerants plant in Smyrna, the company has recovered more than one million lb of used refrigerants within a period of 10 months.
Airgas is trying to acquire multiple patents covering the processes and technologies in the Refrigatron system.