Staying cool amid tough standards in the oil and gas industry

Cost-effective and flexible air conditioning units that help the oil and gas industry meet indoor environmental and safety requirements — yet are tough and powerful enough to hold up under rigorous conditions — are not always easy to procure. 

But there are solutions out there, including Friedrich Air Conditioning Co’s Hazardgard unit, which led the way in the early 1990s with a UL Class 1, Division 2, Groups A, B, C, D cooling product for the domestic oil and gas industry. 

oil and gas industryThis was a major step for the industry as the first-of-its-kind, medium chassis, slide-out window air conditioner that featured a simple on/off toggle switch and standard thermostatic controls. 

Easy to install and operate, Hazardgard was quickly adopted and utilized by many industries with hazardous locations, including military facilities and navy ships, as well as on offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, oil field facilities in the plains of West Texas, steel mills in Ohio and farm and agricultural buildings throughout North America. 

The keys to success for an effective A/C unit that can operate under such brutal conditions calls for robust manufacturing specifications, such as a hermetically sealed refrigeration system; an environmentally sealed on/off switch; maximum corrosion resistance; solid-state control relays; and a powerful, commercial-grade, hermetically sealed split capacitor fan motor. 

With these features, in addition to “plug and play” convenience, the Hazardgard also is self-contained, in a powder-coated, 22-gauge, G60 galvanized steel air conditioning cabinet built to withstand years of punishing use.

Also important is testing and verification. Located in San Antonio, Texas, Friedrich achieved UL Client Data Test Program (CDTP) verification for its own Design and Development Center, meaning the company’s testing chambers and results are trusted by the rigorous standards set by the UL. 

The company set the bar even higher by expanding the Hazardgard product line to include ATEX– and IECEx-certified models. These new models are designed with the same rugged features and long-lasting performance but have been re-engineered to meet the most stringent international standards for hazardous locations. 

Meeting such tough standards is certainly not without challenges. For example, Friedrich originally manufactured its Hazardgard units with a Bristol reciprocating compressor, but when Bristol shuttered production, the Friedrich engineering team had to pivot quickly. 

By switching to rotary compressors and updating safety standards with UL, ATEX, IECEx, and SASO, as well as the G-marking for Gulf states, the company worked to avoid supply disruptions and lessen the impact on customers in North America and abroad and meet growing demand.

For the oil and gas industry, these types of tried-and-true products that have been tested in the field and backed with industry-leading certifications offer reassurances to facility managers and workers around the world that cost-effective, flexible A/C solutions designed to meet indoor environmental and safety requirements are readily available for today’s workplace needs.

Tom Day is development manager at ATEXOnline, an internet-based supplier of ATEX-approved products.