Safe Decommissioning and Refrigerant Disposal for Large Chiller Units

Crane lifting chiller unit

Decommissioning large air conditioning units present significant challenges in terms of the size of the units and the environmental requirements around safe refrigerant removal and disposal.

Project Summary:

  • Urgent request for decommissioning and removal of five large chiller units
  • Additional job request to decommission and remove a number of air conditioning units
  • Planning and liaison for on-site craneage
  • Specialist removal and disposal of refrigerants
  • Tight time window of just 10 days
  • Completed May 2021
  • Project value £17,500

“I can confirm that we were delighted with the complete cycle of the project. We received excellent guidance through the design stage to delivery and completion. Works were carried out on time and as planned with added assistance with the planning and involvement of Manchester Airport regarding the placing of the crane on a flight path. What’s more, Cool & Heat went above and beyond to allocate resource at the last minute to manage additional unforeseen works.”

Tom Brydon, Senior Project Manager – Technical Services & IFM

The Challenge:  Fast decommissioning and removal of large chiller units

In May 2021, a multinational French company involved in the design and build of electrical systems needed to expedite the decommissioning and removal of five large chiller units to enable the company to complete the sale of a building and hand the property over to the new occupants.

The Process: Fast response and project planning

This complex project was planned and completed by the Cool & Heat team within a tight 10-day window, including concept and approval of the project plan covering craneage and third-party contractor vetting.

The initial job was specified to cover the mechanical and electrical decommissioning and removal of the five chiller units, plus the safe removal and disposal of refrigerants. With the building located on the flight path and close to the airport runway, detailed preplanning included liaison with Manchester airport to obtain permission to erect a large crane to complete the necessary works.

The Cool & Heat team also liaised closely with other companies operating on the site to ensure the work was carried out without impacting upon their day-to-day business. A full project plan was devised and discussed in two pre-start meetings. Works included vetting and appointing a specialist waste contractor to dispose of the refrigerants in order to speed up this process, and also appointing electrical contractors to make safe all connections following the removal works.

The works were completed quickly and efficiently, including disconnection of the water pipework and blanking at the nearest valves. Each power supply was installed into a rotary isolator. All refrigerant was removed and disposed of in accordance with legislation, and waste transfer documentation was provided. 

Extending the project to cover air conditioning units

On the Friday following the successful completion of the chiller removal project, the Cool & Heat team was approached again to manage the decommissioning and removal of a number of air conditioning units installed within the building and not required by the new owners.

The planning team swung into action again and arranged to reconvene the team to complete this additional work on the following Monday. The tasks were redrafted immediately and the new project plan was approved.

On the Monday, the specialist teams attended on-site again to complete Phase 2 of the project. This involved decommissioning and removal of a number of air conditioning units and refrigerants. Two brand new Daikin systems had been installed for Thales just six months previously; these were removed carefully and put into storage for reuse. They have now been installed and commissioned in a server room.

All works were completed on time and to budget.


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