According to a report by Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German Environmental Aid) from March 2020, around 3 million refrigerating devices are disposed of in Germany every year. The CFC s, and other fluorinated gases (F-gases) used as refrigerants, pose the greatest problems. If disposed of improperly, these gases have a greenhouse potential equivalent to that of 2.7 million tonnes of CO2. However, recycling companies responsible for shredding refrigerating devices have so far had to resort to using several manufacturers for the required plants, which considerably increased the effort required for development and commissioning.

“Until now, the market did not offer a solution true to the motto ‘every thing from a single source’,” explains Harald Erdwich, Managing Director of Erdwich. “ The companies had to purchase the plants for S tage 1 – i.e. the extraction of the refrigerants – separately, which made coordination more difficult during project execution and often also resulted in a larger space requirement and higher maintenance costs . We now have implemented an all-in-one solution with our refrigerant ex traction system.”

The extraction process follows a fixed pattern: First, all loose parts such as cables with plugs, fruit trays, glass, food residues and – in the case of freezers – pollutants such as mercury switches are removed manually. The refrigerating device is then placed on a tipping table. The cooling circuit is pierced at its lowest point using piercing tongs and at the same time sealed off from the outside air. With this type of ex traction, there is no need to tilt the refrigerating device. “ To this end, the refrigerant/oil mix ture is first extracted via VA piping into an expansion tank ,” explains Erdwich. “ This enables the plant to safely ex tract even refrigerants with higher pressures from air conditioning systems .” The mix ture then enters the oil separator, where the liquid phase (oil) is separated from the gas phase (refrigerant).
However, since the oil separator cannot separate the components 100 per cent, the oil is transported to an additional heating tank and finally heated to 90 °C . The duration of the heating process can be set individually. This procedure ensures that even the last remaining refrigerant residues are cleanly separated from the oil.

Especially when extracting defective coolant circuits, it can happen that air from outside gets into the system. For this reason, a nitrogen generator was integrated, which supplies up to 99.5 per cent pure nitrogen depending on the oxygen content. This means that the maximum oxygen value of 8 per cent, specified in the explosion protection report, is always undercut and any danger to employees is eliminated.
The refrigerant extraction system is TÜV-certified, TA Luft-compliant and meets all relevant regulations such as the AwSV expert opinion as well as the ATE X Directive 2014/34/EU for plants in potentially explosive atmospheres .


Erdwich Zerkleinerungs-Systeme GmbH