Fly-tipping might be a cost-effective way of disposing old refrigerators. While you should consider that this practice is not only illegal, it can also be environmentally-damaging.

A large proportion of refrigerators contain harmful CFCs and, if they are not disposed of properly, these CFCs can have a devastating effect on the atmosphere.

Messer however, is supplying liquid nitrogen as a combatant to this problem, advocating its ability to freeze condensed CFC vapours and leave only pure air as a by-product.

Chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs as they are more commonly known, can remain in the stratosphere for up to 100 years and it is well documented that these gases are a contributing factor to the depletion of the ozone layer. The gases are found in the foam which insulates older refrigerators, and damage to this insulation can release the harmful gases.

According to the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), Germany ranks among the worst countries in Europe in terms of disposing refrigerators.

Modern recycling…using gases
Messer supplies liquid nitrogen to one of Germany’s most modern recycling plants Noex AG, a company belonging to Entsorgungsgesellschaft Niederrhein mbH, in Grevenbroich, Germany.

This state-of-the-art recycling plant disposes of almost half a million refrigerators a year, a large percentage of which contain the environmentally-harmful CFCs. The plant, near Cologne, can recover 99.9% of these CFCs.

Nitrogen, in its liquid form, has a temperature of -196°C and this is used to freeze condensed CFC vapours, in turn leaving pure air behind as a by-product. The CFCs are then converted into hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acid, through a means of controlled destruction at Germany’s only CFC cracking plant

Messer-supplied nitrogen is also used at the plant as a gas which is injected into the shredder to displace air, preventing explosions and fires.

Noex AG also has a cost-effective strategy when it comes to recycling various other components from the refrigerators, such as plastics, pure iron, aluminium, copper and glass which is left behind after the process.

Technical Instructions on Air Quality (TA-Luft) of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety demand quite clearly, “CFCs should be collected and destroyed during the recycling process. Thanks to the technology employed and the use of nitrogen, the refrigerator recycling plant of Entsorgungsgesellschaft Niederrhein satisfies all the requirements for the recovery of CFCs.”