AMMONIA AS A REFRIGERANT
Existing and future legal regulations very encourage the use natural refrigerants („natural five“): ammonia (NH3), hydrocarbons (HC), carbon dioxide (CO2), air and water (H2O)
No refrigerant is an ideal solution for all application cases and for each type of refrigeration equipment.
For application in refrigeration and air conditioning, the following principle applies:
- For small installations: chlorine free halocarbons (“freons”), hydrocarbons, HFO fluids
- For large installations: ammonia
Key advantage of ammonia as a refrigerant:
- Superior thermodynamic properties which guarantee high energy efficiency of the plant
- Ammonia refrigeration systems are more energy efficient (3-10%) (as a result, installations with ammonia consume less electricity)
- Components, piping and air coolers with ammonia installations are smaller compared to other refrigerants (except for carbon dioxide)
- Generally speaking ammonia refrigeration systems cost 10-20% less to install than systems using alternative industrial refrigerants.
- Ammonia is incomparably cheaper (several times, or even dozens of times!) than all other refrigerants, and its acquisition is easy and reliable
RISK ASSESSMENT – APPLICATION OF AMMONIA AS A REFRIGERANT IS SAFE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
- Every refrigeration system is subject to a certain risk (not just ammonia installations)!
- Even the slightest traces of ammonia in the air thanks to its sharp and characteristic odor easily decteted
- Ammonia vapor is lighter than air and thus in case of leaking in the rooms can be easily vented by mechanical means into the atmosphere
- Leaking of ammonia is very rare! Measures to prevent ammonia of leaking are highly developed and reliable (ammonia is used as a refrigerant over 150 years)
- Ammonia is “biodegradable”– ammonia has no cumulative effects on the environment and has a very limited (a few days) atmospheric lifetime.
- Flammability of ammonia is small; the anhydrous ammonia is practically non-flammable! However, ammonia vapor at extremely high concentrations in air (16 do 25 % mass) burns in the presence of an open flame. The risk of combustion of ammonia vapor is increased in the presence of oil.
- Ammonia’s burning velocity is substantially low, not more than 8 cm/s which is not enough to to create an explosion. For these reasons, ammonia explosions are very rare.
- Properly designed ammonia refrigeration systems that are well ventilated and free of open flames or ignition sources are practically not exposed to a potential explosion
- With proper use of precautionary measures, the safety of people, goods and the environment in ammonia systems is inherently safe