The utilization of fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases) has increased drastically over the last few decades, with serious consequences for global warming. In the EU, several actions are ongoing to mitigate the effects of these gases, such as the phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the switch towards alternatives with lower global warming potential (GWP), and a stronger control of the utilization, operation, and management of the F-gases. However, in Europe only 1% of F-gases are recovered at the end of their life cycle and since no suitable separation technologies are available for most F-gases blends, incineration turns out to be the fate for most of the recovered compounds. Under this scenario, efficient strategies based on separation and selective recycling (circular economy principles) of F-gases are of vital importance to mitigate their effects on the environment, to reduce the dependency of the industry on high GWP refrigerants, to reduce costs, and to reduce the pressure on the supply chain.
Under the scope of the KET4F-Gas project, two prototypes were constructed for the efficient recovery of value-added HFCs from high-GWP refrigerant blends, for reutilization purposes in novel environmentally friendly refrigerant mixtures with low GWP. These technologies, which require low maintenance and have long lifetime, are easy to apply in a waste management facility due to the small amount of space required, and due to their modularity and scalability. These technologies have clear economic advantages since the costs of separation are lower than the price of new refrigerants. The systems were validated at pilot scale and demonstrated to be highly selective for the separation of R-410A, resulting in a high separation performance and high R-32 purity (> 99%) when both prototypes are used in series.
The KET4F-Gas project partners are also committed to increase the sensibilization to the F-gases problematic and to transfer the project results to key players of the F-gases sectors. To support people to make appropriate choices regarding F-gases management, an online tool was developed to allow the user to classify waste according to the European Waste List, to determine the global warming impact of each F-gas or gas mixtures, and to identify the best treatment technologies to separate the components (pure F-gases) from commercial gas mixtures. Over the last 4 years, several seminars, workshops, and personalized meetings were organized with different stakeholders, such as the colling and refrigeration industry, public administration, waste managers, and public in general, to discuss the new technologies, the impact of national and European laws on the industry and markets, and the technological and economic constrains that hamper the achievement of the goals defined by the Regulations. These topics were summarized on a Good Practices Handbook for Industry and Waste Managers and on a Roadmap for the Public Administrations in Charge of Waste Management, both documents available on the project website.
All project information is available at http://www.ket4f-gas.eu