Contamination of Refrigerated Container Systems

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1 Contamination of Refrigerated Container Systems UNEP - Joint Meeting of the Regional Ozone Network For South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Paro, Bhutan, May 2012 Mark Bennett Container Owners Association - COA Triton Container International 1

2 Introduction Triton Container International Private company founded 31 years ago Triton fleet: 1.9 million containers (TEU) 72,000 refrigerated containers (units) World fleet: c.30 million containers (TEU) 1.3 million refrigerated containers (units) 2

3 COA Container Owners Association Forum to represent the interest of all marine freight container owners Members include: Most major shipping lines Container Leasing Companies Service Depots Manufacturers of containers and refrigeration machinery 3

4 Agenda 1. Refrigerated Containers 2. Fake Refrigerants and Explosions 3. Shipping Industry response 4. The Future 4

5 1. Refrigerated Containers New Refrigerated Containers at a factory in China

6 Modern large container ship The Emma Maersk can carry 1,000 refrigerated containers and up to 15,000 TEU total containers. Length 400m. Deadweight is 150,000 Tons

7 Refrigerated Container being Pre Trip Inspected

8 Refrigerated Containers Mostly 12m/40 length, 67m3 cube and 30T cargo capacity Strong rigid structure, insulated with foam blown with HCFC 141b or Cyclopentane c.5kg of R134a refrigerant (some use R404a) Operating life of 12 to 15 years Cost new US$18,000 (c.$8k machine/$10k box) 8

9 Refrigerated Containers Operate in ambient temperatures up to +50C Cargo temperatures from +15C down to -30C Wide operating temperatures compared to other sectors design challenges for efficiency Manufacturers: Carrier Transcold (50%+ market share) MCI Starcool Daikin Thermoking 9

10 Montreal Protocol - Actions 1993 R12 unit production phased out and R134a/R404a models introduced R134a models larger compressors, higher power consumption for same cooling capacity Many continued with R12 until retirement R409a used to convert some machines from R12 but market resistance due to service issues on ships Last R12 units retired by

11 2. Fake Refrigerants & Explosions 11

12 Fake Refrigerants & Explosions Shipping industry becomes aware of contamination in Q after tests to exploded reefers Demand for R134a and shortage/price of Fluorspar linked to sharp price rises in 2 nd half 2010 Rise in price and supply shortages of R134a may have enabled cheaper fake R134a into the market Fake refrigerants supplied as R134a under main brand names 12

13 Explosions in Vietnam April units explode in 2 days Both units under PTI - service Units had gas service 3-4 weeks before 13

14 Vietnam incidents Authorities sealed off the terminal Very little evidence available Initial conclusion: possible leak testing with Oxygen 14

15 US West Coast incident Engineer reports gas burning spontaneously in air August

16 US West Coast incident - 2 Opening high pressure valve on compressor liquid emerging started burning Alkyl metal halide is suspected Samples taken from the compressor show R40 methyl chloride 16

17 Brazil incident Unit serviced Vietnam then R134a recharged in transit Unit moved to Brazil Engineer identifies low gas and connects R134a supply during service Explosion of compressor similar to Vietnam No aluminum components remaining 17

18 Similar damage to Vietnam explosions China incident White Aluminium Oxide visible Technician moved away from machine to take a phone call 18

19 Corrosion to stainless steel lining China incident

20 Other Industries 2009: public transport company in Greece Passengers: several injuries (poisoning) Workshop staff: several injuries (poisoning/explosion) AC rubber hoses and seals disintegrated 2009: fridges, Germany Product recall 2010: vehicles Reports of poisoning from methyl chloride leaks in passenger compartment 20

21 Other Industries Bus air-con unit : 21

22 22 Fake Refrigerant

23 23 Fake Refrigerant 2

24 DuPont Fake Gas Tank ORIGINAL DuPont R134a FAKE Dupont R134a 24 Dupont spelled with lower case p instead of P

25 25 Fake Gas Supply Gas bottles on ships tested found contaminated Gas bottles found in Philippines, China, Angola, Spain with R40/methyl chloride Several different mixes of fake gas found with more than one containing R40/methyl chloride Other gases used include: R12, R22, R142b, R124, R30 Easy to order from the internet:

26 Chemistry Theory Fake gas in Vietnam contained c.50% R40 (methyl chloride/chloromethane) and 50% R134a R40 reacts quickly with alumunium components in compressor chloromethane + aluminium trimethyl aluminium (TMA) + aluminium chloride 6 CH 3 Cl + 4 Al Al 2 (CH 3 ) AlCl 3 26

27 Possible Cause of Explosion New R134a added or circulated on startup may react strongly with TMA in compressor possibly causing a hydrogen fluoride reaction Air entering the system may react with TMA: Al 2 (CH 3 ) O 2 AL 2 O 3 + 6CO 2 + 9H 2 0 Less likely and doesn t explain stainless steel corrosion Chemistry is complex Why no recent explosions? 27

28 3. Shipping Industry Response 28

29 29 Shipping Industry Response October 17 news of Qingdao explosion All 5 units serviced at Cat Lai terminal, Ho Chi Minh and the US West Coast incident Shipping lines quarantine units serviced at Cat Lai November COA conference at European Intermodal Saigon Newport circulate c.1200 serial numbers ILWU trade union injunction on handling Vietnam serviced refrigerated containers.

30 Testing Options Search for suitable test methods Methyl chloride/r40 difficult to test for Flame Halide Lamp Test detects chloride contamination Industry resistance to Flame Halide Test Other methods inaccurate or too costly 3 conferences held to review and demonstrate test methods London, Singapore, Antwerp 30

31 31 Current Test Programme 1. Testing gas bottles on ships and in depots 2. Focus on high risk units serviced in Vietnam 15,000 refrigerated containers serviced per day Big terminals can service 100+ units per day Samples extracted with care and tested with flame halide lamp Where positive, sample sent for Gas Chromatograph testing using Mass Spectrometry method.

32 32 Test Programme Issues/Challenges Training depots resistance and time: risk of testing versus risk of not testing Time, availability and cost of GC MS testing Contamination with CFC/HCFC also gives flame test fail Still no safe way to neutralize methyl chloride contaminated units Repair is uneconomic due to system damage c.100 main service depots and c.500 independent service companies worldwide.

33 Flame Halide Lamp Normal Flame blue color Chloride contamination 33

34 34 Environmental Issues Presentation has primarily focused on the issue of safety and operational impact A delegate in Antwerp challenged if our testing considered environmental issues Estimated that mg of gas are needed for flame halide test For GC analysis, only 1 2 cm3 of gas required Licensed engineers in Europe, concerned about local regulation and losing their license

35 Action Summary Eliminate contaminated supplies of gas from service network this is critical. Identify clean and contaminated refrigeration units Remove CFC/HCFC contamination Find cost effective solutions for neutralising methyl chloride contamination 35

36 4. The Future Challenges Fake Refrigerants Controlling or eliminating global supply Find cost effective and quick test methods to enable check at every service event for all units 36

37 Future Challenges System Design Cyclopentane blown insulation has 10% more heat leakage than R141b foam Existing machinery will use more power to hold the same temperature Exceptional demands for refrigerated containers in ambient temperature ranges and cargo requirements System efficiency and power consumption 37

38 Future Design Options & Requirements Improved insulation efficiency new blowing agents? Hydocarbons Propane Dismissed due to flammability issue on ships CO2 systems: complete system change can it meet range of performance requirements? can power consumption match R134a performance? 38

39 Future Design Options & Requirements HFOs 1234yf use similar system design retrofit to R134a systems? higher cost than R134a will encourage use of fakes future legislative issues? 39

40 Conclusion Fake/contaminated refrigerants caught the industry by surprise. Risk of injury or death to staff Ongoing big cost and service disruption implications Shipping is a highly competitive and cyclical business Many players globally 40

41 Conclusion COA s challenge is to provide coordination on this project with the support of other organizations Ships are isolated at sea and restricted access in port Relatively small global service network We have some confidence that the inadvertent use of contaminated and banned refrigerants in the shipping industry can be brought under control Thank you 41

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