A-Gas Managing Director John Ormerod on how this natural refrigerant is growing in popularity due its low GWP, excellent thermodynamic properties and high efficiencies
There are three telling reasons to choose ammonia as an alternative to more commonly used industrial refrigerants. First of all ammonia is a natural refrigerant which does not deplete the ozone layer. Secondly, it has excellent thermodynamic qualities and thirdly it has a recognisable odour which can be viewed as its greatest safety asset.
Ammonia has been used in the refrigeration industry for more than a century. Its contribution to cooling has not gone unrecognised.
Increasing Applications for Ammonia
Ammonia is highly toxic and flammable in certain concentrations which mean it does have to be handled with care and its application has to be looked at differently when compared to other industrial refrigerants.
That aside, it has been the number one choice for many industrial systems. In applying this, designers have looked to keep the ammonia aspect of the system away from people and manage the risk by doing so. But technology has moved on rapidly in this area in recent years and we are starting to see low-charge ammonia systems entering the market and widening its reach further.
Reducing Ammonia Risks
Now a common sight, are small packaged ammonia systems sitting on roofs of buildings with secondary refrigerants like glycols employed to take care of the cooling aspect. In these instances, by placing the ammonia package on the roof, you have contained the risk quite nicely.
Ammonia has many applications in industrial facilities including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, ice cream, brewing and soft drink plants. It has also been successfully employed in large cold stores in the food processing industry where the scale and range of cooling enormous.
This new-found versatility has won ammonia more admirers. Improving technology and greater efficiencies have broadened the number of applications where it can be used to such an extent that some supermarkets have warmed to its potential.
CO2 and Ammonia
Glycols are a secondary refrigerant familiar to many but times are a changing and even CO2 has been used in cascade with ammonia.
I have heard of an application in South Africa where ammonia and carbon dioxide have been combined for cooling at a convenience store. To my mind, if that doesn't highlight how ammonia has widened its appeal to end-users and signalled that it’s a gas for the future, nothing will.
Wider Temperature Range
New, Attainable Skills for Ammonia
A Gas and Ammonia
I predict that the resurgence of ammonia as an environmentally-friendly alternative to HFC refrigerants will continue as the F-Gas Regulations tighten their grip on the industry and the Rwanda agreement point us towards a greener future.