Vapor (or vapour) recovery is the process of collecting the vapors of gasoline and other fuels, so that they do not escape into the atmosphere. This is often done (and sometimes required by law) at filling stations, to reduce noxious and potentially explosive fumes and pollution.
The negative pressure created by a vacuum pump typically located in the fuel dispenser, combined with the pressure in the car's fuel tank caused by the inflow, is usually used to pull in the vapors. They are drawn in through holes in the side of the nozzle and travel along a return path through another hose.
In 1975 the Vapor Recovery Gasoline Nozzle was an improvement on the idea of the original gasoline nozzle delivery system.
The improved idea was the brain child of Mark Maine of San Diego, California, where Mark was a gas station attendant at a corporate owned and operated Chevron U.S.A. service station. The story is, after watching the tanker truck driver deliver gasoline to the station using two hoses, one to deliver the gasoline from the tanker, and the other hose to recover the escaping gasoline vapors back into the emptying tanker. Mark talked with the driver to understand why the two hose system was used, and also why it was not implemented on the standard delivery nozzle, allowing vapors to escape from the vehicle gas tank. After the tanker driver left, Mark drew an idea for a Vapor Recovery Gasoline Nozzle and submitted it to the Chevron Station Management as an employee suggestion.
Mark was included in the design and development as the original Vapor recovery gasoline nozzle, which was manufactured and delivered by Huddleson. Mark was also promoted from the Chevron Service Station to an executive position based out of the Corporate in La Habra, California. Mark was appointed as the Vapor Recovery Gasoline Nozzle executive for the 2 year implementation program, his duties were to train and oversee the installation and maintenance of 124 Chevron Service Stations within San Diego County.
Chevron USA lobbied California Law Makers, and the law was changed to require the new improved Vapor Recovery Gasoline Nozzle delivery system state wide and eventually such followed across the USA.
In Australia, vapor recovery has become mandatory in major urban areas. There are two categories - VR1 and VR2. VR1 must be installed at fuel stations that pump less than 500,000 litres annually, VR2 must be installed for larger amounts, or as designated by various EPA bodies.
Vapor recovery is also used in the chemical process industry to remove and recover vapors from storage tanks. The vapors are usually either environmentally hazardous, or valuable. The process consists of a closed venting system from the storage tank ullage space to a vapor recovery unit which will recover the vapors for return to the process or destroy them, usually by oxidation.
Vapor recovery units are also becoming commonly used in the oil and gas industry as a means of recovering natural gas vapor and making it a usable and profitable product.
Vapor recovery towers are also used in the oil and gas industry to provide flash gas recovery at near atmospheric pressure without the chance of oxygen ingress at the top of the storage tanks. The ability to create the vapor flash inside the tower often reduces storage tank emissions to less than six tons per year, exempting the tank battery from Quad O reporting requirements.[non-primary source needed]