Friday, 09 October 2009 14:43
An innovative waste-management company is creating a high-grade fuel oil made from waste oil, using a self-cleaning filter that reduces labour by 75 percent, maintenance by 50 percent and in 60 percent less production space.
"In the United States alone, an estimated 200 million gallons of used motor oil are improperly disposed of by being dumped on the ground, tossed in the trash (ending up in landfills), and poured down storm sewers and drains," states the EPA document titled "Collecting Used Oil for Recycling/Reuse."
"If all of the used oil that is improperly disposed of were properly managed, the United States could save thousands of barrels of oil each day," the EPA document continues. "Used oil that is properly handled can be re-refined into lubricants, processed into fuel oils, and used as raw materials for the refining and petrochemical industries."
Through waste-oil recovery and reuse programs, proactive nations, such as the U.S. and Canada, as well as many municipalities, are looking to turn the hazard of improper waste-oil disposal into a valuable resource. In this effort, savvy companies are taking advantage of a new generation of self-cleaning filter technology that can process waste oil into quality products more effectively, with less downtime and labour than possible with traditional equipment.
Capturing a new market
Global Recuperation, a waste-management recycling company based in Quebec, reclaims used motor oil and filters along with other industrial commodities. Though waste oil is mandated for re-use in much of Canada, Eric Poisson, the company's president, wanted to capture an underserved market niche for a higher grade of fuel oil, made from processed waste oil.
"A number of industrial clients required a simpler, cleaner burning fuel oil than the market offered from filtered waste oil," says Poisson. "Before burning, typical filtered waste oil has to be pre-screened by the user in several steps, and it leaves more residue than desired."
Traditionally, Global Recuperation and other processors in the Quebec area filtered waste oil with static filter cartridges at 20-mesh (900 micron). There were production challenges, however, with this approach.
"The waste oil contained a variable percentage of solids that rapidly clogged our static filters," says Poisson. "A dedicated operator had to manually clean the filters every 10 to 60 minutes, depending on the concentration of solids. Each time, he had to remove the filter cartridge, clean and replace it, then re-start production. It was too slow, labour-intensive and costly."
To produce a cleaner, higher-grade fuel oil from waste oil and to streamline production, Global Recuperation turned to a state-of-the-art, self-cleaning filtration system from Russell Finex of Pineville, NC.
"With the self-cleaning filter screening at 150-microns, our process removes more foreign particulate from waste oil, including tiny ice crystals that can form in winter, resulting in a cleaner burning fuel oil with less residue," says Poisson. "Because there are fewer particulates, our high-grade fuel product only needs to be pre-screened once before use, unlike inferior fuel oil that needs to be pre-screened several times. Fuel pumps last longer too, due to the better filtration."
Since the Self-Cleaning Russell Eco Filter system integrates directly into the pipeline, it eliminates labour-intensive manual cleaning tasks, such as changing filter bags or cleaning filtration baskets. The filter element is kept continuously clean via a spiral wiper design, ensuring optimum filtration efficiency. Because of its design, cleaning the filter between batch runs is quick and easy with minimal disruption during production changeovers. Additionally, a Q-Tap valve allows the sampling of freshly filtered material, so quality can be easily monitored on the fly without interrupting production.
Compared to previous manually cleaned filters, the new filter system is saving Global Recuperation a substantial amount of labour and downtime. "The automatic wiper removes all solids that stick to the filter so it's always clean," says Poisson. "An operator just keeps an eye on the system and spends his time on other shop tasks. Eliminating the downtime of cartridge cleaning and replacement has dramatically improved production workflow. We've reduced labour by 75 percent and cut maintenance by 50 percent."
As companies like Global Recuperation are discovering, the Self-Cleaning Russell Eco Filter fits neatly into existing production lines, in many instances, adding significant capacity without requiring excessive space. "The self-cleaning filter takes up 60 percent less space than our old static filters," says Poisson. "This has freed up production space that will help us expand within our existing facilities as business grows."
Because the self-cleaning filter is totally enclosed, it also prevents outside pollutants from contaminating product and protects operators from any spillage or fumes. Users see substantial improvement in product purity, throughput and waste elimination; and a choice of easily swapped filter elements can give additional flexibility to meet the quality demands of customers.
"Since my operators don't need to remove filter cartridges, they don't expose themselves to vapours or waste-oil contaminants," says Poisson. "My operators are happier, and there's no smell of waste oil in the shop."
Poisson sums up the benefit of switching to the self-cleaning filter this way-a safer environment for his operators and business, as well as for society. "With higher margins on a higher quality fuel oil product, along with significantly lower labour costs, we'll achieve ROI on the Eco Filter within a year," he says.
Del Williams is a technical writer based in Torrance, CA. This is an edited article provided by Power PR and Russell Finex Inc. For more information, visit: www.russellfinexusa.com.
Published in Features
Friday, 09 October 2009 14:25
Refrigerants escaping into the atmosphere from leaking heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) equipment are major contributors to global warming. And it's mind boggling how many pieces of HVAC/R equipment there are in commercial buildings.
Most people relate to rooftop air-conditioning equipment, but there could be dozens and maybe hundreds of pieces of equipment in a building that range from walk-in cooler, refrigerators, ice makers, chillers, food-service equipment, etc. Unfortunately, all of this equipment has the potential to leak refrigerants one day.
Fixing or replacing a suddenly leaking $30,000 rooftop HVAC/R unit on a retail store, hospital, office facility or some other commercial building can shock even the most bountiful maintenance budget of a facility. A facility manager also that knows the options on failing equipment can not only save his/her building money, but most likely save the environment of leaking refrigerants and therefore run a greener facility.
Most HVAC/R units eventually leak due to basic wear and tear from continual vibrations and many times from galvanic corrosion. It will most likely happen after 10 or 15 years, but it could also happen after just a few years. Then comes the decision a facility manager must make with the service contractor-repair, component replacement or total unit replacement. On a $30,000 rooftop unit: a repair might range from $300 to $1,000; a component replacement, such as a coil might cost $750 to $2,000; and a total unit replacement would be $30,000, not to mention added labour and installation costs.
There's a fourth option that might be one of the largest secrets in maintenance today-HVAC/R system sealants that stop leaks and prevent future leaks from occurring for several years.
It's recommended that a service technician should try to repair a refrigerant leak conventionally-finding the lead and brazing it. Unfortunately, not all leaks can be found or are accessible to fix even if they're detected. That's when sealants should be considered.
Service contractors sophisticated enough to work on commercial HVAC/R equipment probably have heard of the industry's relatively new high-tech sealants, but not all use them. The reasons vary, but continually putting in refrigerant into a leaky system-even though they know it will leak out over the course of the next six to 12 months and their services will be needed again-shouldn't be an option.
This unlawful method is called, "topping off" a leaking system. It's not only detrimental to the environment, but contractors and their unknowing commercial building clients can receive hefty fines from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if discovered.
HVAC/R sealants have only appeared on the market since around the turn of the century, but they're one reason why fewer refrigerants are being accidentally released into the environment. Sealants are a blend or organisilanes that react to moisture. When injected into an HVAC/R system, they move freely through the system with the refrigerant.
In a leaking system, the refrigerant and sealant leak out of an exit hole. The sealant reacts to moisture in the atmosphere and crystallizes around the hole, forms a bond and prevents any more leaking. This is very similar to the human body and how blood clots to stop the bleeding of a wound.
An extra advantage is the preventive maintenance aspect. The residual sealant remains in the system and immediately stops future leaks as they occur. The facility manager nor the contractor will really know how many times other leaks occurred and were stopped.
Bonded leaks can endure up to five to 10 years, thus giving a new lease on life to an aging system. Delaying a $30,000 rooftop equipment replacement by 10 years can be a boon for any facility's maintenance budget.
That's the economic angle. The environmental angle means fewer refrigerants are leaked into the atmosphere. Additionally, an HVAC/R system runs more efficiently under a full refrigerant charge. As a result, it uses less energy.
One of the first uses of sealants helped prevent a Ford plant in Windsor, ON, from shutting its engine production back in 2001. Maintenance engineers had the choice of replacing a leaking chiller component vital to the production process, which could have taken up to a week of idle time, or sealing the system. They sealed the system in just a few hours with two $60 cans of sealant and the chiller is still running flawlessly today and hasn't leaked since.
So, what does a facility manager do when suggesting a sealant to a reluctant contractor that either isn't familiar with the technique or insists it doesn't work? The answer is to call any local HVAC/R distributor that carries sealants and ask for a recommended contractor.
Published in Features