As an industry leader, eSynergy offers a BATRRT compliant treatment process and a competitive pricing structure.
Regulation of Fridge Recycling
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations require WEEE to be recycled to prescribed recovery targets to avoid landfilling of precious metals and other resources. This required various types of crushing, milling etc. of WEEE to liberate these fractions. During the process, blowing agents used to expand the insulation foam in refrigeration equipment can potentially be released into the atmosphere.
In the stratosphere, the CFC molecules released from refrigeration equipment during disposal break down by the action of solar ultraviolet radiation and release their constituent chlorine atoms.
Once released, chlorine can go on to essentially steal, by catalytic reaction, an oxygen atom from an ozone molecule (O3), thus removing it by decomposition. The Chlorine Monoxide molecule which is formed can then go on to shed this oxygen atom, reforming the chlorine atom which can then go on to repeat the process.
Stratospheric ozone shields living organisms on Earth from the harmful effects of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation. Even a relatively small decrease in the stratospheric ozone concentration can result in an increased incidence of skin cancer and genetic damage in many organisms. CFCs have a lifetime in the atmosphere of about 20 to 100 years, and consequently one free chlorine atom from a CFC molecule can do a lot of damage, destroying ozone molecules for decades.
HFCs do not contain chlorine, therefore pose no risk as catalysts for ozone decomposition. However, once released into the atmosphere they are extremely effective at insulating the Earth from the loss of infrared radiation, leading to global warming, which requires no further explanation.
The Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases Regulations 2009 implement the EU F Gas Regulation and its supplementary Commission Regulations in Great Britain (Northern Ireland has its own regulations). The Environmental Protection (Controls on Ozone-Depleting Substances) Regulations 2011 and the Ozone-Depleting Substances (Qualifications) Regulations 2009 implement the EU ODS Regulation.
The UK Environment Agency and Health and Safety Executive are acutely concerned that pentane releases are appropriately monitored and properly controlled. 2013 saw the effective inclusion of pentane-blown foams into the loss-monitoring regimes of Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) treatment plants. These measures were implemented via the Environment Agency’s report ‘Flammability of Fridge Insulation Foam Produced with a Hydrocarbon Blowing Agent’.
The requirement was necessary to avoid fire and explosion in third party shredding systems. This was due to the misleading classification of baled insulated panels as non-hazardous, which led to them being processed through shredding systems which are not ‘intrinsically safe’ i.e. they do not include inert gas suppression and monitoring.
DEFRA’s WEEE BATRRT (Best Available Treatment Recovery and Recycling Technique) guidance states that ‘appliances containing hydrocarbons must be processed in intrinsically safe equipment’.
The DEFRA BATRRT document requires recyclers to implement the standards of recovery contained in the 2002 ‘Guidance on the Recovery and Disposal of Controlled Substances Contained in Refrigerators and Freezers’ document. This document specifies the methods for the recovery of ODS, high GWP and hydrocarbon blowing agents.
Activated Carbon Adsorption
eSynergy currently uses this technique to abate solvent pentane emissions from its pre-shredding process used for large commercial refrigeration equipment.
This is considered the most appropriate method for the recovery of blowing agents for several reasons. The liquid nitrogen vaporised in the cryogenic process is reused to ‘inert’ the shredder process to protect against the release of hydrocarbons. The only products produced in the process are recovered blowing agents and water. These gases can be efficiently co-processed through a thermal process, breaking down the CFC and HFC molecules with little production of oxides.