Refrigerant Recycling

As popular refrigerants become scarcer and more expensive, many HVACR professionals turn to refrigerant recycling.

What is it?

Refrigerant recycling reduces a refrigerant’s contaminants so it can be reused in the same piece of equipment or in equipment owned by the same individual or company. Please note that it is different from refrigerant reclamation, which entails multiple filtration processes that “reclaim” the refrigerant to meet industry purity standards.


Recycled vs. Reclaimed

Recycled refrigerant is not as pure as reclaimed refrigerant and is not eligible for resale. During recycling, a refrigerant’s contaminants are reduced through oil separation and filtration processes.  During reclamation, filtering, drying, distillation, and chemical processes strip the refrigerant of impurities.  Once this exhaustive process is complete, a refrigerant meets or exceeds ARI-700 purity standards, which are the same standards required of virgin refrigerants.


Pros/Cons of Refrigerant Recycling

As the EPA phases out gases, i.e. R-22, supply diminishes, demand remains, and prices rise. Cost savings is the driving force behind most refrigerant recycling efforts.  However, before beginning a refrigerant recycling initiative, compare your equipment costs to your expected costs savings.  Refrigerant recycling must be conducted with equipment that is certified by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) or the Underwriters Laboratories (UL).


Recycle or Sell Your Recovered Refrigerant?

As stated above, recycled refrigerant should only be used in systems owned by the same individual or company. Certified HVACR technicians can use authorized refrigerant recovery and recycling machines to recharge a unit with cleaner gas.  However, due to the increasing value of refrigerant, many professionals choose to sell their recovered gases to an EPA-certified refrigerant reclaimer.


Selling Your Refrigerant to a Reclaimer

An EPA-certified reclaimer is qualified and equipped to reclaim used refrigerant. Through “refrigerant buyback programs,” HVACR professionals can sell recovered refrigerant for cash or in exchange for new refrigerant.  While most reclaimers are equipped to handle popular refrigerants, such as R-22, some can reclaim a variety of gases, including mixed.   In fact, many professionals are surprised by the variety of refrigerants that reclaimers will buy.


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