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Norbulk converts onboard refrigeration plant

Shiprepair eNews - June 2016Norbulk Torshavn

Oceanic Technical Solutions has successfully converted all refrigeration and reefer plants onboard a Norbulk managed refrigerated cargo ship to run on refrigerant R407F.

The conversion, which follows the January 2015 entry into force of European Union's Fluorinated Greenhouse gases (F-Gas) rules banning the entire use of R22 refrigerant on all European-flagged vessels, is believed to be the shipping industry’s first ever marine refrigerant conversion to the more environmentally-friendly R407F.

Prior to January 2015, operators were still able to purchase recycled R22, but the ozone-depleting gas and other Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) are now completely outlawed across Europe.

The regulations prohibit the use of  HCFCs with a global warming potential (GWP) greater than 2,500.  GWP is a relative measure of how much heat mass a greehouse gas traps in the atmospere compared with the same mass of carbon dioxide. While R407Fi s not commonly used in the maritime industry it is a blend of three refrigerants; R32, R125 and R134a and has a GWP of only 1,800.

During a scheduled drydocking at a shiprepair yard in Klaipeda, Lithuania, the 6,120dwt reefership’s refrigeration plant aboard was shut down and the entire charge of R22 recovered. Before the plant could be charged with the new gas, Oceanic’s conversion team, led by Technical Director Dave Lloyd, pressure tested the plant for leaks, fitted new gaskets, seals and oil filters, inspected and made leak-tight all pipe work and installed a fixed leak detection system with sensors mounted at valve stations in the machinery room and each of the four cargo holds. The refrigeration plant was then purged with nitrogen and oil systems were flushed with fresh Polyolester oil to remove the existing mineral oil content.

Three refrigerant recovery units were used to transfer the gas to dedicated refrigerant recovery receivers. Based on the success of the conversion Oceanic Technical Solutions is now evaluating the refrigeration plant aboard other Norbulk vessels for conversion later this year.

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