Refrigerant recovery now a concern in Europe

June 1, 2000
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ESSEN, Germany — As the rapid curtailment of HCFC availability nears, refrigerant recovery has become a major topic in Europe.

As supermarkets on the continent grow in size to start to rival those in the United States, storewide control technology is stirring up a great deal of interest.

Those are just a couple of the trends and industry responses based on the most recent International Trade Fair for Refrigerating and Air Conditioning (IKK) held here.

Some 20,000 attendees saw these and other themes emerge as they walked among the 700 exhibitors over three days in this industrial city in Northwest Germany.

Recovery technology

Refrigerant recovery has not been the high priority in Europe that it was in the United States, because Europe never had the strict vending rules of the U.S. But, with the phaseout of CFCs and HCFCs happening at a faster pace in Europe, the recent IKK show saw a boost in interest in recovery technology.

Amprobe, for example, featured the Promax line of recovery units, including a new unit designed for recovery of R-410A, an HFC gaining attention as a long-term R-22 alternative. The RG5410hp employs “oilless” technology.

Related refrigerant technology came from TIF, which showed newly designed leak detectors, the XL-1, RX-1, and XP-1; a programmable charging meter, the 9050; and an electronic certified weight scale, the 9010C.

The two United Dominion companies shared booth space at the expo and had material supplied through Amprobe Test Measurement GmbH. At the expo, it was reported that Hermann Hinterhauser has been named president of both Amprobe/Promax and TIF Instruments.

In a related development, it was announced that the production of Amprobe products is being moved from Lynbrook, NY, to the TIF facility in Miami, FL.

CPS Products Inc. focused on its Pro-Set line of refrigerant recovery equipment, which is designed to automatically recover both liquid and vapor refrigerant. The company also showed its version of ultraviolet leak detection billed as “Moonlight.”

Leybold Inficon, which had introduced recovery equipment early in 1999, used the IKK show to feature its Wey-Tek charging scale, D-Tek refrigerant leak detector, and Tek-Mate portable leak detector.

A Canadian company, Refrigerant Services of Nova Scotia, got into the mix with reclamation equipment that the company said meets or exceeds the U.S. ARI-700 standard. Part of the process includes the ability to separate multiple refrigerant mixtures.

Spectronics used the interest in leak detectors to promote the fluorescent method that employs ultraviolet lamps.

Also figuring into the recovery talk were makers of couplings. Aeroquip introduced such components for use with R-134a field service. Also in the showcase was a dual restrictor flow control for use on small packaged terminal units. The components are said to need only two braze joints to install.

Uniweld showed an R-134a manifold gauge, service adapters for the refrigerant, and pump adapters.

Refrigerants

Refrigerant manufacturers who had taken a “maintenance of image” approach in recent years, took a higher profile at the most recent show.

Nothing had really changed in terms of the alternative refrigerants — good news for contractors and technicians — but this go around found producers spelling out options in detail. Charts were readily available showing so-called traditional refrigerants, alternatives, drop-ins, oils to be used, ozone depletion information, etc.

For example, officials at HRP Refrigerants of the United Kingdom noted that “a wide variety of replacement refrigerants exist,” perhaps more than some technicians would like. But this was caused, they said, by the need “to effectively service modern society’s broad spectrum of need for refrigeration, long term and transitional, for new applications and the servicing of [existing] plants.”

The German company Solvay offered one prediction concerning the long-term winner of the race to replace R-22 in air conditioning applications. A chart at its booth showed R-407C holding market share until 2005 in Europe, after which its use will drop off. At just about that time, use of R-410A is expected to increase dramatically.

One booth official said many manufacturers are currently making minor modifications to existing equipment to work with R-407C. Major redesign is needed for R-410A, and the booth official said that it is now starting with many such products moving into the pipeline over the next few years in Europe.

AlliedSignal, for example, made note of its involvement in the introduction of R-410A to new cooling systems at one of the oldest and most prestigious venues in Europe — the Teatro a la Scala opera house in Milan.

The company also talked up a product called “R-134aUV” for use in automotive and residential air conditioning systems. This was a version of the familiar R-134a which contains a proprietary, refrigerant-soluble ultraviolet dye that disperses through a system for leak-detection purposes.

DuPont listed more than a dozen refrigerants currently available for hvacr applications.

As long as there is R-22, there will be a market for so-called drop-in replacements to CFCs, since most of those alternatives include some R-22 in the blend.

While much attention at the show went to several of the new refrigerants, particularly R-404A and -407C, long-time refrigerant ammonia still found a place.

Eurammon, an association of ammonia users, was advocating the refrigerant, although the hoopla over ammonia was not of the same fervor when CFC and HCFC cutbacks were first discussed several years ago; likewise for British company Calor Gas Refrigeration with its line of hydrocarbons, which noted increased interest in the refrigerant in Scandinavia.

The global marketplace for refrigerants was reflected at the booth of National Refrigerants, which promoted “an extensive distribution network to assure prompt delivery to virtually any location.”

Henkel Corp. Chemicals Group used the expo to announce that it will be bringing the Cognis line of products, including lubricants, to the U.S. market.

Cylinders were the focus of Worthington, which noted both non-refillable products for the U.S. market and reusable ones for the European market.

Tools, test instruments

La-Co Industries focused on epoxy sealers, heat-absorbing paste, fluorescent gas leak detectors, and aluminum flux and solder.

Among newer items on display at the booth of Sealed Unit Parts was a high-temperature recorder designed to measure and record temperatures in air, gas, liquids, solids, and semi-solids. Also featured was a universal recorder, billed as a single recorder that can perform five functions when connected with an adapter kit.

Robinair called its TruTrack ultrasonic leak detector a “Cool Tool.” The product uses ultrasonic technology to detect the sound of a leak. It is also designed to eliminate interference, false triggering, and the need to recalibrate.

The lineup at Mastercool included manifold gauges, charging and testing hoses, couplers, shut-off valves, and valve core removers, along with vacuum pumps.

A running demo at the booth of Hansen Technologies focused on its auto purger, designed to remove air from refrigeration systems.

KwikVise drew a lot of attention at the booth of Imperial. The tool for refrigerant recovery automatically locks the pliers into a tight position. By squeezing the handles, enough pressure is applied to puncture the tube and provide a leak-tight seal, the company says.

Compressors

Bock said a new line of semi-hermetics, the HG7, can be used in air conditioning and refrigeration applications, the latter including deep-freeze systems. In each unit, the cylinder lid is prepared for capacity regulation, the oil pump lid is designed for attaching and oil pressure sensor, and there are two sight glasses.

Copeland Corp. (headquartered in Sidney, OH, with IKK announcements coming out of its Belgium facilities) drew attention to R-410A, billing it as “the global choice to replace R-22.” The expo was used to announce R-410A scroll compressors in seven models and five displacements ranging from 0.5 to 5 hp.

Also on the announcement board: scroll tandems for R-407C, -22, and -134a in which 7.5- to 15-hp models can be arranged in even to uneven combinations up to 30 hp; an expansion of the refrigeration scroll line up to a 15-hp unit; and a 70-hp semi-hermetic compressor made in the Belgium plant.

Frascold showed a range of units, including twin screw compressors with built-in oil separator and semi-hermetic tandems.

Showcased at the booth of Mycom of Belgium was a series of screw compressors with the suction gas strainer and suction non-return valve incorporated.

French company Hermetic Refrigeration Service contends it can recondition compressors for 50% or less than the cost of a comparable new model.

Also making its presence felt overseas was CMP Corp. with its compressor replacement parts inventory.

Bitzer Kühlmaschinenbau GmbH of Germany ran the table in its exhibit area, encompassing water-cooled condensers as well as compressors ranging from those for transport to semi-hermetic screws. Attention was also given its EuroScroll compressors for air conditioning applications.

Bristol scroll compressors were shown through Sigma-Frigo — Therm York International. Models for use with R-22, -134a, -404A, and -407C were featured.

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