A Walk On the Refrigerant Side

A technology called “RefrigerantSide Service” is designed to reduce downtime for process chillers and refrigeration systems.

The methodology has on-site reclamation capabilities and removes impurities from refrigerants while the cooling system is running. Hudson Technologies of Pearl River, NY, developed the concept.

“Any operation that will lose significant money from downtime will benefit from this application,” said company cofounder and ceo Kevin Zugibe.

The company has developed a patented refrigerant reclamation unit called the ZugiBeast that can fit through a standard 30-in. door for on-site use. The unit is considered an integral part of a decontamination system that can perform reclamation to ARI 700 purity levels at the same time. The unit operates at up to 6,000 lb/hr.

Applications include:

  • Hermetic burnout cleanup;
  • Removal of rust, sludge, and sediment;
  • Removal of mineral or ester oils;
  • Cleanup of oil-logged evaporators;
  • Removal of chemical contaminants; and
  • Dehydration of chillers and refrigeration systems.
  • Hudson Technologies transports the decontamination equipment to sites by truck from facilities at various parts of the country. The company’s technicians perform the process, verify purity, store refrigerant in cylinders, and weigh charges to ensure that pounds are not lost.

    The company also has a national service lab with working chillers. The purpose is to fine-tune technology and establish baselines for on-site service work.

    Contractor Services

    Zugibe also stressed the importance of a refrigerant analysis program for contractors to offer to customers. “Studies reveal that most chillers suffer from reduced efficiency caused by refrigerant contaminated with excess oil, moisture, particulates, or chemicals,” he said.

    He noted that when a chiller operates with contaminated refrigerant, “Power use ramps up, chiller performance declines, and operating costs rise.”

    Contamination problems such as worn metals, moisture, and acidity appear in the compressor oil before they can be detected in the refrigerant. Said Zugibe, “Oil analysis can detect problems long before they have a chance to do any damage.”

    Water leaks also are a common and costly problem for chillers. The ASHRAE Handbook notes, “When mineral oil and water mix, a chemical reaction takes place, causing the oil to sludge…friction increases, eating away at metal parts and generating excessive heat. Fine metal shavings mix with the sludge and flow through the system.…Since the sludge contains acids, it can corrode anything it sticks to, further damaging the system.”

    Zugibe also stressed the importance of analysis in other areas. One deals with the depletion of inhibitors and other chemical additives in absorption systems that can allow damaging chemical reactions to take place, resulting in costly repairs.

    Another area to consider, he said, is with chemicals leaking into the refrigerant, particularly in process chillers.

    Publication date: 05/14/2001

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