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Avoid refrigerants in disposable cylinders

R134a refrigerant in a disposable cylinder
R134a refrigerant in a disposable cylinder

WORKSHOPS are advised to avoid refrigerants that have emerged on the Australian market illegally supplied in disposable cylinders.

Both R134a and flammable refrigerants have recently been found in the wrong type of cylinder, both posing their own risks.

Apart from the use of disposable cylinders being prohibited (and dangerous in the case of flammable refrigerants), the provenance of the R134a is in doubt and there are concerns over the quality of the refrigerant.

Disposable cylinder
Disposable cylinder

VASA eNews is aware of the illegally bottled R134a turning up in Melbourne and Sydney and it is suspected that this refrigerant could be used, recovered refrigerant, bringing its quality and purity into doubt.

Despite all R134a in this country being imported, some of the cylinders are marked “Product of Australia”.

Refrigerant Reclaim Australia general manager Michael Bennett explained that if the refrigerant was recovered from systems then properly reclaimed (in other words, returned to as-new specification) there could be an argument to say it is an Australian product.

“Of course, if that was the case the company providing that service would require a manufacturing licence and currently there are no [relevant] manufacturing licences issued in Australia,” he said.

Mr Bennett has advised the Department of the Environment about the suspect R134a.

Meanwhile, the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum has issued a dangerous goods safety bulletin warning that flammable refrigerants bottled in disposable cylinders fitted with burst seals have been imported and sold across Australia.

Flammable refrigerant in disposable cylinder with burst disc
Flammable refrigerant in disposable cylinder with burst disc

The safety bulletin warns that if these cylinders over-pressurise for any reason, the burst disc can open and not reseal, meaning all the flammable gas escapes to create “a very hazardous and extensive flammable gas atmosphere”.

“Flammable refrigerants need to be packed in compliant gas cylinders that are fitted with spring-loaded pressure relief valves, such as cylinders used for LP gas.”

As these cylinders do not comply with dangerous goods transport requirements, they cannot be returned to the supplier.

Those who have purchased flammable refrigerants in the type of cylinder described and pictured in this article re advised to contact the refrigerant supplier and arrange for the gas to be transferred into compliant cylinders plus appropriate disposal of the empty cylinder.

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