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Appliance Recycling Centers Using Robots to Extract Fridge Coolant

Appliance Recycling Centers of America Inc. is using a robotic system to remove almost all coolant from refrigerators, including the hard-to-reach coolant in foam insulation.

The Minneapolis-based company recently unveiled the 40-foot high machine at a facility in Philadelphia, the New York Times reports.

Refrigerators are placed in one end of the machine and shredded, neat stacks of virtually coolant-free recyclable materials come out of the other. Foam from the refrigerators is handled in a separate step to the rest of the fridges. The foam is turned into pellets that can be used as fuel.

About one third of the coolant recovered comes from compressors and around 70 percent comes from the foam insulation according to Peter Hessler of Untha Recycling Technology, the Germany-based company that created the machine.

Some old refrigerators contain the equivalent of approximately five tons of carbon dioxide, but companies can use credits from the correct disposal of such equipment to cover part of their annual emissions.

In December 2010, PG&E announced that it would purchase carbon offsets from Appliance Recycling Centers of America.

The recycler and PG&E said they would collaborate on the collection of 38,000 pounds of ozone-depleting substances from California sources including disposed refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and bulk chillers.

Carbon offsets generated through the project were then bought by PG&E customers through the company’s  ClimateSmart program.

Picture credit: Magic Madzik

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