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Thermal de­struc­tion of (hy­dro)chlo­ro­fluoro­car­bons and hy­dro­fluoro­car­bons

06/2020 , Publication - Technical Publication :

The present paper focuses on one aspect of ODS Banks management: The destruction of ODS through thermal processes.

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The use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as refrigerants and as blowing agents for heat insulating foams has been banned since the 1990s with the Montreal Protocol because of their ozone depleting potential, and the use of their successors, hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), has been considerably limited over the last 15 years.  The substances are, however, still globally present in high amounts in appliances that have become waste and amount to so-called “ozone depleting substances  (ODS) banks”.

Their recording, collection, and final disposal are not regulated by any international agreement and are an expensive challenge, in particular in developing countries. As a result of the Montreal Protocol, ODS have been widely replaced by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which have high global warming potentials (GWP). While the ODS bank is projected to decline, the HFC bank will increase. The present paper focuses on one aspect of ODS Banks management: The destruction of ODS through thermal processes. In industrialised countries a number of technical processes are available for the destruction of ODS, the most efficient ones often provided by big chemical companies. The number of options available in developing countries depends on the industries found locally. Since HFCs are still widely in use, there is currently little data on HFC destruction and the present paper therefore focuses on the destruction of ODS but also addresses the destruction of HFC. It is expected that HFC destruction will not differ much from ODS destruction.

The objective of this paper is to give an overview of technical measures for the destruction of ODS and a special focus is turned upon their potential application in the special situation of developing countries by looking at investment and operational costs as well as technical requirements. The report thereby first looks at the collection and pre-treatment of refrigeration equipment, where considerable ODS banks are still available for treatment (Chapter 2) before it looks at the destruction technologies of ODS (Chapter 3) and HFC (Chapter 4) themselves. Out of the existing technical processes, selected thermal processes are discussed in detail in this document and each technology is analysed regarding its potential use in developing countries. A very promising strategy is the destruction of ODS in cement kilns which are found in almost all countries and which have a high capacity to handle pure (H)CFC as well as polyurethane (PUR) foams. This paper has been developed as part of the project “Management and Destruction of Existing Ozone Depleting Banks” on behalf of the Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and  Nuclear Safety (BMU) under its International Climate Initiative (IKI) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.