ABB Australia opens world-first SF6 gas recycling plant

ABB Australia has developed a world-first technology for recycling contaminated SF6 (sulphur hexafluoride) gas, which will be implemented at a new facility in Moorebank, NSW.

The gas recycling technology is based on a new, energy-efficient cryogenic process developed by ABB’s Moorebank team.

The new SF6 gas recycling centre at Moorebank will be the first site to roll out the technology globally.

According to ABB, purity of recycled SF6 gas using the new technology is ~99.99 percent, which exceeds the purity that can be achieved using traditional methods and removes the need for costly and energy intensive gas destruction.

Using recycled SF6 gas will help reduce carbon emissions and could result in a cost saving potential of up to 30%, says the development team.

“This breakthrough actively supports a complete lifecycle management approach, improving asset optimisation and performance while reducing environmental impact in a cost effective manner,” said Axel Kuhr, country manager for ABB in Australia.

“It is yet another example of how ABB remains at the forefront of technology and innovation and a great example of Australia’s contribution to ABB’s global R&D program.”

SF6 gas is extensively used in the electrical industry for dielectric insulation and current interruption in circuit breakers, switchgear, and other electrical equipment.

ABB Operations Manager Brett Alexander (l) and Production Engineer Duncan Robbie.

Pictured above are ABB Operations Manager Brett Alexander (l) and Production Engineer Duncan Robbie.

Pressurised SF6 gas is used for the safe and reliable operation of gas-insulated switchgear as it has a much higher dielectric strength than air or dry nitrogen, making it possible to significantly reduce product footprint and enable installation in constrained spaces.

However its lifecycle management is a challenge for utility and industrial users. The cost of handling SF6 in a compliant manner can also be substantial, particularly when decommissioning aging substations.

Purity of recycled SF6 gas ~99.99 - new recycling center set up in Australia.The new service offering will see contaminated SF6 gas recycled into technical grade standard (according to IEC 60376 standards) for reuse using approved handling practices that do not allow the escape of SF6 gas into the atmosphere.

The service also covers monitoring to ensure compliance with changing local and international regulations and standards.

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