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Counterfeit Refrigerant Australian Experience Michael Bennett Refrigerant Reclaim Australia.

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Presentation on theme: "Counterfeit Refrigerant Australian Experience Michael Bennett Refrigerant Reclaim Australia."— Presentation transcript:

1 Counterfeit Refrigerant Australian Experience Michael Bennett Refrigerant Reclaim Australia

2 Who is RRA? Refrigerant Reclaim Australia is the not-for-profit industry funded environment protection trust that takes back and destroys unwanted, unusable and waste refrigerants at end of life We have been taking back refrigerant since 1993 Initially the program took back CFCs and HCFCs and expanded to incorporate HFCs in 2003 Since commencement we have taken back and destroyed sufficient refrigerant to destroy more than 8 million tonnes of stratospheric ozone, and prevented the emission of more than 10 million tonnes CO2e

3 What is R40? Methyl chloride or Chloromethane (CM), C 3 HCl, also known as R40, is a colourless, slightly sweet smelling toxic and flammable gas that is used as a feedstock for the manufacture of silicon polymers It is a component in a type of counterfeit refrigerant blend designed to mimic the operating characteristics of R134a, with the other components being R22 and R142b In operating refrigeration systems Chloromethane will degrade oil and aluminium components and produce flammable gases, and some substances that create the potential for a strong exothermic reactions when exposed to oxygen Some breakdown products include trimethylsilane (TMS) and trimethylaluminium (TMA) both of which are highly reactive HF is also likely to be formed as the fluorocarbons and oil degrade

4 Sources New refrigerant in cylinders Countries importing disposable cylinders particularly at risk Purchaser/importer most likely to be unaware of fake product Newly manufactured equipment Equipment manufacturer most likely to be unaware the refrigerant they are using is fake Importer of equipment most likely to be unaware of the fake refrigerant in the equipment Equipment serviced in a country where the risk of counterfeit refrigerant is high Equipment owner/importer most likely to be unaware of the fake refrigerant in the equipment

5 Australian Incident Reputable multinational company imported equipment from its own China located factory Same type of equipment had been imported before and since without incident Units were sold and installed for operation Within one to three months the units failed triggering an investigation and product recall The units were dismantled and inspected to reveal badly corroded compressor internals

6 Recovery Recovery of R40 counterfeit refrigerant was undertaken safely in Australia Forty separate operations with a total of more than 100 kilograms of counterfeit refrigerant was recovered The recovery unit was pulled down and inspected following use and no discernible corrosion was detected Issues with disposal do exist and options are being considered

7 Australian Incident The importer/manufacturer undertook extensive tests and identified the refrigerant in the systems as a blend of R40, R22, and R142b. The source was tracked to a batch of disposable cylinders supplied to their China based factory Research, including that undertaken on behalf of the Container Owners Association, showed that chloromethane degrades aluminium, refrigerant oil, and other fluorocarbons to acid gases and toxic and flammable substances leading to equipment failure and creating severe safety risks The manufacturer has created new procedures to ensure new refrigerant is tested for purity prior to us

8 Australian Incident R40 had not been tested for in Australia Given the potential consequences decanting operations ceased until testing of the recovered refrigerant stream was conducted Testing commenced with the results showing wide R40 contamination of the waste stream – this was not a credible result Testing procedures, test standards, and techniques were considered and upgraded and retesting undertaken The results were very different and more certain with R40 identified in low concentrations in 1% of cylinders tested. Testing of recovered gas cylinders continues and decanting operations and subsequent destruction has recommenced

9 Identification Current refrigerant identifiers cannot detect R40 but may show lower purity of R134a Refrigerant identifiers will show R22 if the counterfeit blend contains it Halide test will detect the presence of the chlorine in the R40 and R22 if either is present But what happens when R22 is counterfeited or volume expanded with R40? Gas chromatography is the most reliable form of identification but requires expensive equipment, trained personnel, correct gas standards and procedures For example R40 and R142b may co-elute to confuse results

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13 Warnings - Technicians Technicians should be advised of the risks created by R40. Technicians are advised that the refrigerant contained in the system of a refrigerated shipping container should be tested prior to any work being undertaken and work on the system should not be commenced if the identity of the refrigerant cannot be determined as that which the system should contain. The owner/lessee of the reefer should be immediately notified of the situation and the non- standard refrigerant. Technicians are advised that the refrigerant contained in newly manufactured (2011+) and installed R134a equipment of Chinese origin that has operating problems should be tested prior to any work being undertaken and work on the system should not be commenced if the identity of the refrigerant cannot be determined as that which the system should contain. The local importer/supplier of the equipment should be immediately notified of the situation and the non-standard refrigerant. Technicians need to be aware that the emission of refrigerants is prohibited. The main risk to technicians is during the emission of counterfeit refrigerant. Should technicians inadvertently recover counterfeit refrigerant into a cylinder local practise has shown the process to be straightforward without visible damage to recovery equipment.

14 Warnings – Importers and Distributors Importers and distributors should be advised of the risks created by R40. Importers and distributors are advised that R40 has been identified in the systems of refrigerated shipping containers overseas, but that no incidences have been reported locally. Importers and distributors are advised that in Australia R40 has been identified in one batch of equipment newly manufactured and imported from China and purportedly containing R134a. Importers and distributors are advised to test newly manufactured R134a equipment to ascertain the identity and quality of the refrigerant No other reports of failing new equipment have been advised to date. R40 has been identified in recovered refrigerant cylinders in Australia. Approximately 1% of cylinders tested contained less than 2% R40. Importers and distributors need to be aware that the main risk to personnel is during the emission of counterfeit refrigerant. Importers and distributors need to aware local experience shows that during the recovery of the counterfeit refrigerant from forty systems there were no detrimental effects on the recovery unit; this was verified by internal inspection of the unit

15 Recommendations Create online databases to provide resources for the industry globally: Refrigerant specifications Cylinder appearance, labels and specifications Testing techniques and procedures Recommended preventative actions such as testing of new refrigerant Identified risky suppliers/web sites Opportunity to report incidents of counterfeit refrigerant Laws reinforcing refrigerant purity standards

16 Thank You Please contact me for further assistance and visit our web site for information about the Australian refrigerant recovery programme


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