Cryogenic applications: cryogenic system to recover volatile organic compounds

In 2007, in France alone 12 000 tonnes of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were released from service stations, i.e. 1% of all such emissions in France. VOCs from service stations are detrimental to health and the environment and increasingly regulated. Covaltech, a small company based in Lyons, France, addressed this problem with the support of the Institut Français du Petrole (IFP) and designed a system recovering the vapour thanks to cryogenic temperatures (-40°C), condensing them into liquid form before applying a process separating water from the petrol per se which can then be re-used. Thus 2.7-3.5 l/1000 l are recovered, which allows for pay off the 40 000 €-cost of the system over 36 months, according to the company. The other major advantage is that processing takes place on site and operates during filling of the station tanks and of the cars as the nozzles are equipped with pumps. The complete device comprises an electric cryogenic unit outside the stations' dangerously flammable zones and a gas-condensation unit equipped with heat exchangers. The device obtained the 2nd prize for innovations linked to the oil industry in 2007 and 5 service stations have already acquired it.