Not the End of the Line: Recycling Your Acetylene Cylinders


Aging acetylene cylinders have long been a headache for distributor operations managers and compliance personnel. Their unique composition and the volatility of their contents require that they be handled with the utmost care throughout their lifespan.

As they contain materials that are potential health hazards, they also must be disposed of diligently to avoid potential liability.

Unlike most compressed gas cylinders, acetylene cylinders are not entirely hollow. While most cylinders are basically steel shells pumped full of gas, acetylene cylinders contain a solid core. The core contains dissolved acetylene along with acetone, which acts as a stabilizing agent for the highly flammable acetylene gas. The secondary chemical, acetone, is necessary for safety purposes, but makes disposing of the cylinder a complicated process.

Over time acetylene cylinders break down and eventually fail requalification. At this point the cylinder can no longer be used safely and must be disposed of, acetone-laden core and all. Historically this has meant one of two things; the cylinder can either be shipped off to landfill, or left outside an owner’s facility to rot away. Each of these methods has unique risks for the cylinder owner.

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