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GE Unveils Fridge-Recycling Behemoth 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the om-nom-nom dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It wouldn't be out of place at a monster truck rally. Forty feet tall and capable of eating up and breaking down 150,000 used refrigerators annually, the new UNTHA Recycling Technology (URT) system at the Appliance Recycling Centers of America's (ARCA's) facility in Philadelphia is an engineering marvel. At an event there this morning, GE and ARCA announced that the URT system is ready to go to work on its first old fridge."
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GE Unveils Fridge-Recycling Behemoth

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  • Monster shredders are really nothing new. But it's still fun to watch things get tossed into them.

    YouTube has quite a few video clips of big shredders shredding big things.

    • by belg4mit (152620)

      It's not about the shredding, but sorting the materials....
      and hopefully refrigerant recovery, but that was not addressed.

      • Unless gas separation processes are much more efficient than I am aware of, I assume that it is cheaper to have a grunt with what amounts to a heavy-duty syringe on a hose breach the coolant loop and pull the refrigerant before shredding, rather than try to separate it out of the diffuse mixture of refrigerant, air, misc. dust particles, and whatnot floating around the shredder...

        Or, if the refrigerant isn't worth it, the "eh, they phased out CFCs a while back, right?" approach may be taken...
        • by pookemon (909195)
          Given the statement (From TFA) of "The URT system can transform refrigerator insulating foam into pellets for use as fuel or other products.". I'm guessing your last line is what they'll take. "Hey we recover it as pellets that you can burn - it's recycling!". So why not just shred the fridge, burn the product to product electricity to power the shredder and then refine the left over metals. Job done... Environment buggered.
          • by Joce640k (829181)

            Job done... Environment buggered.

            So? This is the USA...the only thing that matters is that it's huge, overpowered and violent!

      • Shredding the materials and degassing/compressing the foam. It doesn't sound like they're doing anything about refrigerant recovery, but they talk about the foam processing reducing greenhouse emissions.

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Shredding the materials and degassing/compressing the foam. It doesn't sound like they're doing anything about refrigerant recovery, but they talk about the foam processing reducing greenhouse emissions.

          Most likely refridgerant recovery is done ahead of the step where they recycle the rest of the first. It's trivial to do so it's probably one of the first things done as the gas can be under high pressure.

          • Re:Shredder Fun (Score:4, Informative)

            by rta (559125) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @12:09AM (#37394910)

            You'll also note that their demo fridge (2nd pic in TFA) has had its compressor and coils removed as well before being sent in.

            • Good catch, I didn't notice that.

              That seems weird though, since they talk about recovering copper and copper is mostly going to be in the compressor and coils. I guess they mean in whatever earlier step removes them.

      • In virtually *ALL* recycling operations that involve an industrial shredder, there is also automated material sorting. For example electronic recycling that starts off with a big shredder, and then routes the smaller and smaller pieces past various devices that remove different types of metals and plastics...

        So really, this in fact is NOTHING NEW.

        But really, good show to GE in engineering a modern shredder/sorter. It would have been nice if it also recovered the refrigeration gas. Maybe it does and I missed

        • In virtually *ALL* recycling operations that involve an industrial shredder, there is also automated material sorting. For example electronic recycling that starts off with a big shredder, and then routes the smaller and smaller pieces past various devices that remove different types of metals and plastics...

          I saw a mini-documentary about a car shredder/sorter on Discovery (I believe). They showed how the car was shredded, and then what techniques were used to sort all the parts. They sorted the shredded junk by specific weight (fans), magnetic properties, whether the piece would adhere to different types surfaces, how well it bounced, and numerous other ingenious methods. The end results had a remarkable fidelity as to what kinds of material could be sorted with high accuracy.

          It was all very impressive. I can'

      • If you follow the link to the EPA's "Responsible Appliance Disposal program", (at the end of the second paragraph), it says...

        Using best practices, RAD partners ensure that:
        - Refrigerant is recovered and reclaimed or destroyed
        - Foam is recovered and destroyed, or the blowing agent is recovered and reclaimed
        - Metals, plastic, and glass are recycled
        - PCBs, mercury, and used oil are recovered and properly disposed
      • by llZENll (545605)

        Hard to believe its not more efficient to hire unskilled labor to cut the fridge apart and simply sort the foam, plastic, and steel pieces by hand.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      YouTube has quite a few video clips of big shredders shredding big things.

      Yep. Forget fridges, how about engine blocks [youtube.com]?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I don't get this. This isn't GE. This is UNTHA from Austria.

    Honestly, other than producing fridges that need to be recycled, I'm not sure what role if any GE plays in this.

    These guys (http://www.untha.com/en) made a super shreadder that can recover spray foam as a pellet, and exceeds EPA standards for recover of gasses and other stuff, and GE says "Hey, our shit can be recycled now!".

    • by malakai (136531)

      Here's a link [arcainc.com] to a company selling this shredder. Nothing to do with GE.

    • by PPH (736903)

      I'm not sure what role if any GE plays in this.

      "You want to do business in our town, you gotta give us a piece of the action. See? It would be a real shame if something bad happened to your machine. Heh, heh, heh."

    • by hedwards (940851)

      GE is buying the units for use in their recycling business. Apparently, they've been recycling appliances in a few states. That's the limit to their involvement, but they are the ones who announced the unit.

    • Well unless UNTHA is giving these units away, GE is paying for them. GE sponsors the use of these machines at the recycling machine and therefore announces their use.

      What's not to get?

  • Disasters (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jkmartin (816458) on Tuesday September 13, 2011 @11:05PM (#37394630)
    This needs to be reduced to a size where it can be fit on a couple semis and moved around to disaster (flood, tornado, hurricane) sites where there is a large spike in the number of appliances needing disposed of. Of course then the problem becomes what you do with the fridges contents that have sometimes been stewing for weeks. I did some work in Joplin where 1 family had 3 refrigerators full of food. Moving a fridge is hard enough. Moving it when it's full of food is twice as hard. Moving a full refrigerator through a destroyed house while trying to avoid seeping goo of unknown composition is where it gets interesting.
    • Moving a full refrigerator through a destroyed house while trying to avoid seeping goo of unknown composition is where it gets interesting.

      By "interesting" I assume you meant "frightening"

      • by EdZ (755139)
        As long as you didn't leave a Ganymede Rock Lobster in there for a year or so, you're probably fine.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's just stupid. Dump trucks are already Truck sized. Just take a few trucks tell the crews to only pickup refrigerators and where to unload them. End of story. good night kids.

    • What you're looking for is a mobile plasma gasification platform. Garbage in, energy and landfill filler out. The benefit is you could generate power onsite and use the resulting carbon as roadway filler for rebuilding local roads.

  • Seems rather dramatic. Almost as they think fridges feel fear.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      From the sound of it, this is apparently similar to the equipment used to recycle electronics these days. Those are about the size of a house and grind and separate things in a sealed off environment from which little to no heavy metals escape.

      That's assuming that it's done properly rather than by people in a 3rd world nation on the cheap.

      Still, this is definitely a worthwhile endeavor, we're not going to give up our refrigerators any time soon, so at least this way they can be more efficiently recycled.

  • totally looks like Aperture Science.
    • by Megahard (1053072)
      Falling into the fridge recycler will result in an unsatisfactory mark on your official testing record, followed by death.
  • http://xkcd.com/462/ [xkcd.com] Reading the article, I couldn't help but hearing it in Alec Baldwin's voice.
  • You can tear the metal off of a fridge with your bare hands (once you get a starting point), shredding crap is not the problem with fridges, its all the gas inside of them.

    So fucking what, you made a shredder, let me just shit my self

  • It's really a marketing program for refrigerators. [arcainc.com] ARCA runs "cash for clunkers" programs, subsidized by electric companies and government agencies. They don't even accept broken appliances, only working ones being replaced with new ones.

    The machinery is built by UNTHA in Germany. There's more than shredding involved. The first step is removing the refrigerant, which is a semi-manual process. Then the shredding takes place in a nitrogen atmosphere. The usual separation techniques are employed; magnets pu

  • Is there such a amount of refrigerators just lying around that there is a need for this machine?

    I recently replaced my fridge. My trash pick-up will take fridges as long as you call them 36 hour in advance. I called, then put the fridge with door off at the curb the night before. It was there all of 15 minutes before the scrap guys the comb my area got it and took it away. There is money to be made off them in the form of recycled metals and reclaiming the refrigerant left in them. Most times when you have
    • Actually, there is a societal-level case that recycling an old fridge is worth the value of scrap plus the differential cost of the power required to run it. With a 20 year old unit, that's about $100/yr. The savings is both in energy usage (1000 kWh/yr) as well as financial planning angle. Someone who buys an old fridge (we'll say 10 years old) for $100 and runs it for another ten years will have spent at least $650 on the fridge and "extra" energy over a 10 year life, presuming nothing goes wrong with it.

      • by NetNed (955141)
        I can see the point you are trying to make. There are flaws though. Your price to operate is a little off considering that fridges now a days have more issues and break down much more frequently then they ever used to. My mothers fridge had issues after 3 years and required a new control board at a cost of $300 to replace. That right there would wipe out any potential saving in the form of less energy used. The repair man even told her that most companies make them to fail so they can make money on parts re
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Basically, GE wants to create the fridge in CHina, sell it to the west, then have us pay GE to destroy our fridge, in which the raw material will be sent back to CHina to be used in new locamotives. Brilliant. GE is hard at work at destroying the west.
  • The Defridgenator?

Old programmers never die, they just hit account block limit.

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