CHICAGO — A long time ago, in what seemed to be a galaxy far, far, away, the EPA required Jedi Knight contractors to have recovery machines and make sure refrigerants were pure through either recycling or reclamation processes.

Most everybody purchased those laser swords of technology and, as supplies of CFCs and HCFCs dwindled and costs rose, contractors continued to use them. But eventually even the best high-tech weapons wear out. And then — and usually only then — did the rooftop warriors break down and buy a new one.

That has made for a fairly stable market without much growth in the United States, according to some comments from booth officials at the 2003 Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo). At the same time, they did report growth in Europe and an early wave of interest in Europe.

Manufacturers at the AHR Expo and were focused on equipment with higher efficiency, lower weight, and streamlined design.

“It’s like a 1985 car,” said one booth official. “Automakers don’t keep bringing out the same model year after year. They keep making improvements to make it more up to date.”

One other message that makers of recovery and recycling equipment sent the industry was that the latest generation of equipment is capable of working with a wide range of refrigerants, including blends and R-410A.

Advanced Test Products (Miami) RG5410A is an ergonomically designed recovery unit for CFCs, HCFCs, and R-410A. For use with high- and low-pressure refrigerants, it has a selectable high-pressure safety cut-off switch. The

oilless compressor can handle both liquid and vapor straight through the compressor.

The unit is encased in a polyethylene blow molded case with a ergonomic design. There is a 3/8-inch, three-row condenser to maximize performance in the harshest conditions, stated the company. In addition, the semihermetic compressor can be serviced in the field, according to the company.

The unit also has a feature that allows the technician to purge the unit of moisture, contaminants, and excess refrigerant without need of a vacuum pump. An in-line filter-drier is included. The unit weighs in at 32 pounds.

Also shown was the company’s MiniMax refrigerant recovery system that weighs in at 28 pounds. The compressor is oilless.

CPS (Hialeah, Fla.) showed its Pro-Set recovery machines. The CR600 is oilless with a dual-fan system designed for working in hot locations. The company claimed, “It operates normally under 140 degree F desert heat.” It has a 1/2-hp compressor and automatically recovers liquid or vapor refrigerant. The unit provides direct liquid recovery and weighs in at 29 pounds.

The CR300 uses a standard oil-filled compressor and has a built-in 100-mesh particle filter. It has an advanced piston-style suction valve for regulating of liquid or vapor refrigerant. It weighs about 28 pounds and offers direct liquid recovery.

Both units were said to be R-410A compatible.

Inficon (East Syracuse, N.Y.) featured the Vortex refrigerant recovery machine using a design that incorporates new compressor and condensing technologies for rapid collection of all refrigerants. A one-valve compressor design increases the liquid tolerance of the recovery machine while extending the life of the compressor, the company said. It has self-purging capabilities, eliminating the need to change hoses at the end of the recovery process, the company said.

Refco (Lockport, N.Y.) featured the Plus-12 recovery unit which has an automatic pressure regulator, built-in manifold, and purge self cleaning. Among refrigerants it works with are 134a, 22, 410A, and others.

The new Reftec (Sarasota, Fla.) GoldPlus II oilless refrigerant recovery system has a 3/4-hp motor and generates liquid recovery rates of 5 to 8 pounds per minute and vapor rates of 0.5 to 2.0 pounds per minute. The compressor has better liquid tolerance for continuous liquid duty, the company said. It achieves a vacuum of 27 inches Mercury. The design is said to be easy to service in the field.

Also on display was the MicroVac, an oilless compressor that can work with R-410A systems and weighs in at 30 pounds.

Ritchie (Bloomington, Minn.) showcased two new items. The R-70A universal recovery system has automatic hookup “so you can work elsewhere after hook-up. There is not even a switch to touch for 410A.” The unit also has automatic changeover from liquid to vapor. It runs with a 1/2-hp oil-less compressor.

The company’s R-50 Series is for small to medium systems. It uses a 1/2-hp oilless compressor, with a single high pressure safety switch.

Therma-Flo (Springfield, Mass.) showed OZ PowerMax and oilless recovery machine with a 1-hp compressor. Booth officials said it is designed to be both lightweight (22 pounds) and powerful. It uses a 1-hp compressor and can handle various blends and works with R-410A systems.

Publication date: 03/03/2003