Friday, January 14, 2011

Recover, Recycle & Reclaim

The following describes the specific differences between refrigerant recovery, recycling and reclamation:


To remove refrigerant in any condition from an appliance and store it in an external container without necessarily testing or processing it in any way.

Refrigerant RECOVERY involves the removal of a refrigerant from a system and the placement of that refrigerant into a container. The recovery process:

  • Is conducted whenever technicians need to open or dispose of air conditioning or refrigeration equipment.

  • Includes removal of refrigerant vapor (heels) to established vacuum levels to maximize the amount of refrigerant captured and minimize releases. Examples of recovery/recycling machine design safety are included in Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 1963, and performance specifications are included in Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) 740.

  • Involves service technicians, equipment operators, appliance disposal facilities, equipment and refrigerant manufacturers.


To extract refrigerant from an appliance and clean refrigerant for reuse without meeting all of the requirements for reclamation. In general, recycled refrigerant is refrigerant that is cleaned using oil separation and single or multiple passes through devices, such as replaceable core filter-driers, which reduce moisture, acidity, and particulate matter. Under section 609, refrigerant can be removed from one car's air conditioner, recycled on site, and then charged into a different car.

Refrigerant RECYCLING involves processing used refrigerants to reduce contaminants, then reusing the refrigerant.

  • Recycling is recommended only when recharging to the same owner's equipment.
  • Recycling involves removal of some contaminants prior to reuse. Contaminants can result in early system failure. Contaminants include oil, moisture, acid, chlorides, particulates, and non-condensable gases.
  • The Industry Recycling Guide (IRG-2) published by ARI describes maximum recommended levels of impurities.
  • International Organization for Standards (ISO) 11650, Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J1990 or AHRI 740 standards may be used to measure recovery/recycling equipment performance.


To reprocess refrigerant to at least the purity specified in the ARI Standard 700-1993, Specifications for Fluorocarbon Refrigerants, and to verify this purity using the analytical methodology prescribed in the Standard. Reclamation requires specialized machinery not available at a particular job site or auto repair shop. The technician will recover the refrigerant and then send it either to a EPA certified reclaimer,, or back to the refrigerant manufacturer.

Refrigerant RECLAMATION involves purifying used refrigerant to meet industry product specifications.

  • Reclamation identifies bad or mixed refrigerants which could result in equipment damage or leakage. Chemical analysis also is required to verify specification values to meet or exceed product standards. (e.g. ISO 12810, AHRI 700).
  • Reclamation may include filtering, separation, distillation, dilution, or reformulation of the recovered refrigerant.
  • Reclamation is recommended when used refrigerants will be charged into equipment other than the equipment it was removed from, or into equipment owned by a different company.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that reclaimed refrigerant must attain AHRI 700 or ISO 12810, or equivalent specification prior to resale.
  • Reclamation facilities and processes should be designed to minimize emissions.
  • Non-reclaimable refrigerants should be disposed of in an environmentally acceptable manner, and in accordance with applicable regulations.

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