Airgas, Inc., Radnor, PA, has introduced its new Airgas Refrigatron™ system for large-scale reclamation of used refrigerant gases. Refrigatron technology assures that Airgas properly identifies the contents of returned refrigerant gas cylinders, enabling the company to pay HVAC contractors the highest price for used gases, while delivering efficiencies that make the reclamation process less labor intensive, safer and more cost-effective.
The company has installed its first Refrigatron system in its Airgas Refrigerants, Inc., Smyrna, GA plant, where it has already analyzed and recovered more than a million pounds of used refrigerants through a testing and modification phase over the past 10 months.
Airgas Refrigerants, Inc. is a full-service refrigerant gases supply and reclamation company with approximately 115 employees nationwide.
Airgas Refrigatron is a multiphase system that first allows for the fast analysis and recovery of used refrigerant gases to then be reclaimed to 99.8% purity and resold. The system streamlines the process of moving, analyzing, evacuating and storing refrigerants from cylinders containing used refrigerants. Refrigatron automates Airgas Refrigerants' standard operating procedures. Using two zero-gravity lifts to move cylinders and two in-line gas chromatograph mass spectrometers, the system renders an ARI-700 specification result and records it for labeling and for future use.
Airgas estimates that it achieves much greater accuracy and saves 45 minutes for each cylinder tested using its new mass spectrometer method. With Airgas Refrigatron refrigerant gases are automatically and properly evacuated to nine 10,000-pound storage tanks for storage prior to purification. Airgas estimates that an average shift allows two technicians to test and empty approximately 130 cylinders and evacuate approximately 6,500 to 7,000 pounds of refrigerant.
Airgas Refrigatron is the result of more than two years of planning, engineering and construction. The system was designed and built by the Airgas Research and Development group located in Cheshire, CT and shipped to Smyrna for installation and testing in early 2011. Airgas is pursuing multiple patents on the innovative processes and technologies that comprise Refrigatron. The system is engineered for durability, with easy access to high-wear parts and fast-swappable components to prevent down time. The system currently boasts greater than 99% uptime since its installation. "
Airgas Refrigatron was born from the idea that there must be economies of scale to make reclamation cost-effective sooner rather than later," says Ted Schulte, President of Airgas Refrigerants, Inc. "We've learned from other refrigerant phase-outs, saw the market for reclaimed gases looming, and sought to find a way to make handling thousands of small tanks cost-efficient and safe."
Sources say Airgas is committed to honoring environmental regulations and contributing to the safe reuse of reclaimed gases. The phasing out of R-22, by far the most widely-used refrigerant in the United States, spurred Airgas Refrigerants to more actively pursue the market and to reengineer and automate the refrigerant gas testing and recovery processes to make them more economically efficient.