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Title:
REFRIGERANT RECOVERY AND REPURPOSING
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/027716
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Methods, systems and apparatuses are described that are directed to on-site recovery and/or repurposing of refrigerant, where an original refrigerant is converted into a refrigerant different from the original refrigerant. The refrigerant different from the original refrigerant can have relatively lower global warming potential (GWP) than the original refrigerant. The recovery and/or repurposing can be implemented for example in a refrigeration circuit, such as for example in general cooling and/or heating applications, which may be embodied in a heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and/or unit, in a transport refrigeration system and/or unit, as well as in commercial, residential and/or industrial cooling and/or heating applications.

Inventors:
CROMBIE, Dermott (Garden Apartment 7 Tivoli Terrace South, Dublin, IE)
KUJAK, Stephen, A. (W7543 County Road ZB, Onalaska, WI, 54650, US)
Application Number:
US2016/046571
Publication Date:
February 16, 2017
Filing Date:
August 11, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
TRANE INTERNATIONAL INC. (800-E Beaty Street, Davidson, NC, 28036, US)
International Classes:
F25B45/00; F25B43/00
Foreign References:
US20090145143A12009-06-11
US20130340447A12013-12-26
US20130298578A12013-11-14
US5181388A1993-01-26
US5226300A1993-07-13
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WONG, Bryan, A. (Hamre, Schumann Mueller & Larson, P.C.,45 South 7th Street, Suite 270, Minneapolis MN, 55402, US)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A method of converting a refrigerant, comprising:

recovering a refrigerant from a refrigeration unit using an evacuation pump; containing the recovered refrigerant in a container;

sampling from the container the recovered refrigerant;

testing the recovered refrigerant; and

converting the recovered refrigerant into a converted refrigerant that is different from recovered refrigerant.

2. The method of claim 1 , further comprising one or more of using the converted refrigerant in the refrigeration unit, using the converted refrigerant in another refrigeration unit, and storing the converted refrigerant.

3. The method of claim 1 , wherein the converting comprises diluting of the recovered refrigerant to obtain the converted refrigerant, where the converted refrigerant has a lower global warming potential (GWP) than the recovered refrigerant.

4. The method of claim 1 , wherein the converting comprises using one or more of a filter and dryer.

5. The method of claim 1 , wherein the converting comprises adding into the container with the recovered refrigerant, one or more other refrigerant components, and/or removing one or more refrigerants from the recovered refrigerant to obtain the converted refrigerant.

6. The method of claim 1 , wherein the converted refrigerant is a refrigerant blend, the converting comprises adding into the container with the recovered refrigerant, one or more other refrigerant components to obtain the converted refrigerant.

7. The method of claim 1 , wherein the converted refrigerant has a relatively lower global warming potential (GWP) than the recovered refrigerant.

8. The method of claim 1 , wherein the converted refrigerant is a blend of refrigerant components and the recovered refrigerant is a blend of refrigerant components, where the converted refrigerant having a ratio of refrigerant components that is different from a ratio of refrigerant components present in the recovered refrigerant.

9. The method of claim 1 , wherein the refrigeration unit is a refrigeration circuit selected from a residential heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system, commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system, industrial cooling and/or heating system, or transport refrigeration system.

10. A system for converting a refrigerant, comprising:

an evacuation pump;

a container fluidly connected to the evacuation pump, the evacuation pump and the container configured to recover a refrigerant from a refrigeration unit,

the container including a sampling port; and

one or more refrigerant containers,

the one or more refrigerant containers including one or more refrigerant components,

wherein the one or more containers being in fluid communication with the container to deliver the one or more refrigerant components into the container in an amount to convert a refrigerant recovered by the evacuation pump and the container into a converted refrigerant.

1 1. The system of claim 10, wherein the one or more refrigerant components is effective to lower a global warming potential (GWP) of the refrigerant recovered by the evacuation pump and the container.

12. The system of claim 10, wherein the one or more refrigerant containers includes an amount of the one or more refrigerants that is effective to obtain a desired property of the converted refrigerant.

13. The system of claim 10, wherein the desired property is reduced global warming potential (GWP) relative to the refrigerant recovered by the evacuation pump and the container.

Description:
REFRIGERANT RECOVERY AND REPURPOSING

FIELD

[0001] Embodiments disclosed herein relate generally to recovery and/or repurposing of refrigerant. In particular, methods, systems and apparatuses are disclosed that are directed to on-site recovery and/or repurposing of refrigerant, where an original refrigerant is converted into a refrigerant different from the original refrigerant. The refrigerant converted from the original refrigerant can have relatively lower global warming potential (GWP) than the original refrigerant. The recovery and/or repurposing can be implemented for example in a refrigeration circuit, such as for example in general cooling and/or heating applications, which may be embodied in a heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and/or unit, in a transport refrigeration system and/or unit, as well as in commercial, residential and/or industrial cooling and/or heating applications.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Refrigerant may be recovered, and then it is shipped to a processing site where it may be destroyed or reused.

SUMMARY

[0003] Embodiments disclosed herein relate generally to recovery and/or repurposing of refrigerant. In particular, methods, systems and apparatuses are disclosed that are directed to on-site recovery and repurposing of refrigerant, where an original refrigerant is converted into a refrigerant different from the original refrigerant.

[0004] In an embodiment, the refrigerant converted from the original refrigerant can have relatively lower global warming potential (GWP) than the original refrigerant. [0005] In an embodiment, the refrigerant may be converted from an original refrigerant by reclamation in situ, such as for example in an operating refrigerant fluid circuit. In an embodiment, one or more refrigerant components may be added and/or removed from the original refrigerant to arrive at the converted refrigerant.

[0006] In an embodiment, the refrigerant may be converted from an original refrigerant through reclamation of the original refrigerant into a container, e.g.

cylinder, where one or more refrigerant components are added and/or removed from the original refrigerant to arrive at the converted refrigerant.

[0007] In an embodiment, adding one or more refrigerant components includes charging in situ or in the container one or more refrigerants to add to the original refrigerant.

[0008] In an embodiment, the container with the converted refrigerant is repurposed to another unit.

[0009] In an embodiment, the container with the converted refrigerant is a drop in replacement for another unit. In an embodiment, the container with the converted refrigerant is compatible with other units and includes, if necessary, suitable connections, valves, and seals, e.g. gaskets, for connecting the container to another unit, such as for repurposing, and also for re-connecting the container to the original unit.

[0010] In an embodiment, the refrigerant converted from the original refrigerant has a ratio of refrigerant components different from a ratio of refrigerant components in the original refrigerant.

[0011] In an embodiment, the amount(s) and/or the type(s) of refrigerant component(s) in the refrigerant converted from the original refrigerant is different from the original refrigerant.

[0012] In an embodiment, the converted refrigerant is effectively a dilution of the GWP relative to the original refrigerant. [0013] In an embodiment, a filter and/or dryer is employed when converting the original refrigerant to the converted refrigerant.

[0014] In an embodiment, a unit performance test is conducted to verify, confirm operation of the converted refrigeration in the same unit from which the original refrigerant was employed or in another unit into which the converted refrigerant is repurposed.

[0015] In an embodiment, the recovery of refrigerant and/or repurposing of a refrigerant converted from an original refrigerant can be implemented for example in a refrigerant fluid circuit, such as a refrigeration circuit.

[0016] In an embodiment, the refrigeration circuit can be a general cooling and/or heating applications. In an embodiment, the general cooling and/or heating application is in a heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and/or unit.

[0017] In an embodiment, the general cooling and/or heating application is in a transport refrigeration system and/or unit.

[0018] In an embodiment, the general cooling and/or heating application is in a commercial, a residential and/or an industrial cooling and/or heating application, including systems thereof, and the like.

DRAWINGS

[0019] These and other features, aspects, and advantages of the will become better understood when the following detailed description is read with reference to the accompanying drawing, wherein:

[0020] The Figure is a schematic illustration of an example of refrigerant recovery and repurposing. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0021] Embodiments disclosed herein relate generally to recovery and/or repurposing of refrigerant. In particular, methods, systems and apparatuses are disclosed that are directed to on-site recovery and/or repurposing of refrigerant, where an original refrigerant is converted into a refrigerant different from the original refrigerant. The refrigerant converted from the original refrigerant can have relatively lower global warming potential (GWP) than the original refrigerant. The recovery and/or repurposing can be implemented for example in a refrigeration circuit, such as for example in general cooling and/or heating applications, which may be embodied in a heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and/or unit, in a transport refrigeration system and/or unit, as well as in commercial, residential and/or industrial cooling and/or heating applications.

[0022] In an embodiment, a refrigerant is converted from an original refrigerant, such as a previously used refrigerant from an operating or previously operating refrigerant fluid circuit. In an embodiment, the original refrigerant is tested and analyzed to determine how it may be converted into a refrigerant different from the original refrigerant. It will be appreciated that such testing and/or analysis may be done at a laboratory and/or on-site for example using known methodologies.

Converting the original refrigerant can be done by adding and/or removing one or more refrigerant components into and/or from the original refrigerant. The converted refrigerant can be re-used in the same unit or used in another unit, or for a different application.

[0023] In an embodiment, the original refrigerant can be composed of one or more refrigerant components (e.g. refrigerant types) and the converted refrigerant resulting from conversion of the original refrigerant can be composed of one or more refrigerant components.

[0024] In an embodiment, the refrigerant may be converted from an original refrigerant in situ, such as for example in an operating refrigerant fluid circuit. In an embodiment, one or more refrigerant component s may be added and/or removed from the original refrigerant to arrive at the converted refrigerant. In an embodiment, in situ means on-site, whereas "on-site" means for example the location where the refrigerant is being used, such as the location of a machine for example a refrigeration unit, e.g. cooling and/or heating system, whether it is in operation or not.

[0025] As one example, the original refrigerant to converted refrigerant can be reclamation by in situ conversion of R134a refrigerant in a chiller and/or bus to R513A. The result of R513A can be achieved through mixing within the unit.

[0026] In an embodiment, the refrigerant may be converted from an original refrigerant through reclamation of the original refrigerant into a container, e.g.

cylinder, where one or more refrigerant components are added and/or removed from the original refrigerant to arrive at the converted refrigerant.

[0027] As one example, the original refrigerant to converted refrigerant can be the reclamation of all or a portion of the R134a from an existing unit into a container, e.g. cylinder, which contains or would have added to it an amount of R1234yf to make up the resulting R513 A.

[0028] In an embodiment, the container or unit may be recharged with the correct amount of refrigerant (e.g. R1234yf), leaving out excess R134a, if any, to arrive at the targeted or desired converted refrigerant, which in some cases is a blend.

[0029] In an embodiment, the GWP of R134a is about or over 1400, whereas the GWP of R513A is about 630, which is significantly less than the GWP of R134a, and in some instances less than half.

[0030] The Figure shows an embodiment of refrigerant reclamation into a container, e.g. cylinder, using a reclamation system.

[0031] As shown in the Figure, refrigerant is recovered from refrigeration unit (A), for example in one embodiment by utilizing an evacuation pump (B). In an embodiment, the refrigerant is stored in a container, such as storage vessel (C). [0032] In an embodiment, the refrigerant is sampled via port (D). Analysis of the recovered (e.g. original) refrigerant allows addition of other refrigerant components to be determined.

[0033] In an embodiment, the addition of other refrigerant components may come from a container, X, Y, and/or Z.

[0034] In an embodiment, to create a new blend, for example to meet a certain R400 or R500 series of refrigerant, one or more refrigerant components from the container(s) X, Y, and/or Z is added to the container (C).

[0035] It will be appreciated that suitable connections, valves, and seals, e.g.

gaskets, for connecting the container (C) to the pump (B), the refrigeration unit (A), the containers including components (X), (Y), and/or (Z) are provided in the system shown in the Figure. The arrows shown in the Figure indicate potential fluid flow directions depending on the application desired.

[0036] It will be appreciated that the container (C) includes one or more openings suitable to feed one or more refrigerant components from the container (X), (Y), and/or (Z). It will be appreciated that port (D) may be used as such an opening.

[0037] The converted refrigerant can be reused either in the source refrigeration unit, or in another unit or application. For example, R134a can be re-purposed as R513A through the reclamation system.

[0038] In an embodiment, any R452 blend can be repurposed into any other system using R452 blend. In an embodiment, an original refrigerant, e.g. R410A, may be converted to an R452 blend.

[0039] The charts below are examples of converted refrigerants from original refrigerants in refrigeration systems types, including chillers, bus, and stationary. [0040] Product in situ R134a conversion to R513A in a chiller, e.g. in a water cooled screw chiller: Conversion Chart I.

[0041] Product in situ R134a conversion to R513A in a chil er, e.g. in a water cooled screw chiller: Conversion Chart II.

[0042] Product in situ R134a conversion to R513A in a bus, e.g. bus air conditioner: Conversion Chart III.

[0043] Reclamation (container) Method for R134a to R513A in a bus, e.g. bus air conditioner: Conversion Chart IV.

The Figure may be used to achieve the different converted blends shown in any of the Charts I, II, III, and IV. [0044] Reclamation (container) of R410A conversion to R452B in a stationary air conditioner: Conversion Chart V.

The Figure may be used to achieve the different converted blends in shown in Chart V.

[0045] It will be appreciated that the above original refrigerants and converted refrigerants are exemplary refrigerants (e.g. blends) only. Other original or recovered refrigerants may be converted, e.g. other types of R400 series and R500 blends, into suitable converted refrigerants based on certain desired or suitable blends, targeted or necessary blends, depending on the application. In an embodiment, the application can be for example to lower overall GWP and/or to achieve a different property for the resulting converted refrigerant. It will be appreciated that R400 and R500 series refrigerant blends, for example, are composed of two or more refrigerant components. In some cases, a converted, e.g. "next-generation", refrigerant is a blend of a previous generation, plus one or more new refrigerant components. By recovering the original (e.g. previous) refrigerant, and by adding the new appropriate refrigerant

component(s) in the correct ratios, a converted blend can be produced.

[0046] As above, examples of this include: R134a (GWP about 1410) which has a GWP that is more than two times R513A (GWP = 631). R513A can be obtained by the addition of R1234yf to the reclaimed R134a.

[0047] Advantages of repurposing refrigerant in accordance with the concepts described herein include: re-use (e.g. recycling) of an existing refrigerant; avoiding returning old refrigerant to a central recycling plant, with associated shipping and time costs; encouraging responsible re-use of refrigerant when possible; and allowing for meeting low-GWP regulations in a quick and simple manner.

[0048] Furthermore, repurposing refrigerant in accordance with the concepts described herein include potentially saving time, reducing refrigerant handling, reducing cost, and reducing the potential for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to the atmosphere.

[0049] By repurposing a relatively high GWP at the use location, the cost and complexity of returning the high GWP refrigerant to a central location is avoided. Additionally, the relatively high GWP refrigerant may be used as a component of a next generation lower GWP refrigerant, which can save cost and reduce potential future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

[0050] Generally, the methods, systems, and apparatuses herein are able to produce a converted, lower GWP refrigerant, for re-use, re-purposing, and the like.

[0051] Aspects -Any one or more of aspects 1 to 9 may be combined with any one or more of aspects 10 to 13.

1. A method of converting a refrigerant, comprising:

recovering a refrigerant from a refrigeration unit using an evacuation pump; containing the recovered refrigerant in a container;

sampling from the container the recovered refrigerant;

testing the recovered refrigerant; and

converting the recovered refrigerant into a converted refrigerant that is different from recovered refrigerant.

2. The method of aspect 1, further comprising one or more of using the converted refrigerant in the refrigeration unit, using the converted refrigerant in another refrigeration unit, and storing the converted refrigerant.

3. The method of aspect 1 or 2, wherein the converting comprises diluting of the recovered refrigerant to obtain the converted refrigerant, where the converted refrigerant has a lower global warming potential (GWP) than the recovered refrigerant.

4. The method of any one or more of aspects 1 to 3, wherein the converting comprises using one or more of a filter and dryer.

5. The method of any one or more of aspects 1 to 4, wherein the converting comprises adding into the container with the recovered refrigerant, one or more other refrigerant components, and/or removing one or more refrigerants from the recovered refrigerant to obtain the converted refrigerant. 6. The method of any one or more of aspects 1 to 4, wherein the converted refrigerant is a refrigerant blend, the converting comprises adding into the container with the recovered refrigerant, one or more other refrigerant components to obtain the converted refrigerant.

7. The method of any one or more of aspects 1 to 6, wherein the converted refrigerant has a relatively lower global warming potential (GWP) than the recovered refrigerant.

8. The method of any one or more of aspects 1 to 7, wherein the converted refrigerant is a blend of refrigerant components and the recovered refrigerant is a blend of refrigerant components, where the converted refrigerant having a ratio of refrigerant components that is different from a ratio of refrigerant components present in the recovered refrigerant.

9. The method of any one or more of aspects 1 to 8, wherein the refrigeration unit is a refrigeration circuit selected from a residential heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system, commercial heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) system, industrial cooling and/or heating system, or transport refrigeration system.

10. A system for converting a refrigerant, comprising:

an evacuation pump;

a container fluidly connected to the evacuation pump, the evacuation pump and the container configured to recover a refrigerant from a refrigeration unit,

the container including a sampling port; and

one or more refrigerant containers,

the one or more refrigerant containers including one or more refrigerant components,

wherein the one or more containers being in fluid communication with the container to deliver the one or more refrigerant components into the container in an amount to convert a refrigerant recovered by the evacuation pump and the container into a converted refrigerant.

1 1. The system of aspect 10, wherein the one or more refrigerant components is effective to lower a global warming potential (GWP) of the refrigerant recovered by the evacuation pump and the container.

12. The system of aspect 10 or 11 , wherein the one or more refrigerant containers includes an amount of the one or more refrigerants that is effective to obtain a desired property of the converted refrigerant.

13. The system of aspect 12, wherein the desired property is reduced global warming potential (GWP) relative to the refrigerant recovered by the evacuation pump and the container.

[0052] The terminology used in this specification is intended to describe particular embodiments and is not intended to be limiting. The terms "a," "an," and "the" include the plural forms as well, unless clearly indicated otherwise. The terms "comprises" and/or "comprising," when used in this specification, indicate the presence of the stated features, integers, steps, operations, elements, and/or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, integers, steps, operations, elements, and/or components.

[0053] With regard to the preceding description, it is to be understood that changes may be made in detail, especially in matters of the construction materials employed and the shape, size, and arrangement of parts, without departing from the scope of the present disclosure. The word "embodiment" as used within this specification may, but does not necessarily, refer to the same embodiment. This specification and the embodiments described are examples only. Other and further embodiments may be devised without departing from the basic scope thereof, with the true scope and spirit of the disclosure being indicated by the claims that follow.