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Author Archives: Ryan Kuhlman

  1. Refrigeration for Breweries: What You Need To Know


    Breweries have been around for thousands of years and have significantly impacted the development of modern refrigeration systems. Ammonia has been a standard refrigerant for many large breweries in The United States and Europe for over 100 years, but some smaller breweries have only made the transition to ammonia refrigeration systems recently. Ammonia is a natural refrigerant, which has a much smaller environmental impact than other refrigeration systems. Brewers are recognizing the many benefits ammonia refrigeration systems have to offer.

    Refrigeration for a Brewery: History

    The history of brewery refrigeration began in Vienna in 1870 when Carl von Linde presented the very first refrigeration machine at a brewery conference. In 1876, Linde invented the first ammonia compressor to serve as the foundation for brewery refrigeration systems. Before Linde’s invention, certain types of beers could only be brewed during the cold winter months. Breweries were among the first industries to implement the use of mechanical refrigeration as it allowed them to brew year-round.

    Ammonia continues to be a popular cooling source for many systems because of the unique benefits it offers (such as high energy efficiency and having zero global warming potential) . In addition to breweries, supermarket distribution centers, (typically super markets use freon.), and ice rinks, a many other food processing facilities rely on ammonia for proper refrigeration.

    Refrigeration for a Brewery: Ammonia Refrigeration

    Refrigeration is a necessary element in the beer brewing process as it significantly impacts the taste and quality of the final product. Breweries require refrigeration at all times, particularly during the summer months when temperatures rise. The yeast used in the brewing process is a highly sensitive ingredient that requires sufficient refrigeration. If yeast is exposed to warm temperatures it can negatively impact the flavor of the beer.

    Ammonia cooling offers a variety of advantages compared to other refrigerants. Some of these unique benefits include:

    • Lower Energy Consumption/Reduced Electricity Bills: Refrigeration makes up about 40% of total electricity consumption. Direct ammonia cooling systems can reduce energy consumption by up to 14%, reducing electricity expenditures.
    • Improved Cooling Output/Environmental Friendliness: Ammonia cooling systems are capable of cooling larger amounts of liquid more quickly than other refrigerants, and as a naturally occurring substance with zero GWP (global warming potential), it is much safer for the environment.
    • Increased Capacity: Low-charge ammonia systems have a large cooling capacity, allowing breweries to produce significantly more product than previously possible.

    Brewery Refrigeration from Kuhlman, Inc.

    If you need reliable refrigeration for a brewery, consider using an ammonia-based system. These systems can help maintain a consistently refrigerated storage environment for breweries of all sizes. Kuhlman Incorporated can help you find the right system to ensure your facility receives optimal refrigeration to produce high-quality, better-tasting beer.

    As a premier provider of industrial refrigeration systems since 1957, Kuhlman has the resources and expertise to outfit your brewery with top-quality ammonia refrigeration. To learn more about our brewery refrigeration systems, contact us today. If you would like to discuss your unique requirements with one of our experts, request a quote at any time.

  2. Why Use Ammonia as a Refrigerant?

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    Ammonia refrigeration systems use concentrated ammonia as a cooling agent. As a biodegradable compound, it is an increasingly popular eco-friendly option, replacing more harmful chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in a variety of applications. 

    Ammonia Refrigeration System

    Ammonia Refrigeration: Environmental Effects

    While ammonia has been a cooling agent since the advent of vapor-compression refrigeration, it has been replaced in more recent years by fluorocarbons, CFCs, HFCs, and other chemical compounds. Studies have shown that these chemicals can have a detrimental effect on the environment. Ammonia, on the other hand, offers exceptional cooling characteristics without a negative environmental impact. As environmental practices in the refrigeration industry come under increasing scrutiny, ammonia is growing in popularity.

    Over the past few decades, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory bodies have begun paying special attention to traditional CFC, HCFC, and HFC coolants. Ozone depletion, global warming, energy efficiency, and life cycle climate performance (LCCP) have all become major considerations for manufacturers and users alike. Ammonia offers exceptional thermal efficiency, and does not have ozone depletion or global warming characteristics, making it the ideal environmentally-friendly refrigerant option. 

    Unlike other refrigerant chemicals, ammonia is not stable in the atmosphere, and biodegrades quickly. In fact, it is injected into a variety of gas turbine and boiler emissions systems to reduce harmful emissions. 

    Ammonia Refrigeration: System Cost

    Ammonia refrigeration systems are more cost-effective than traditional systems that use freon and other fluorocarbons. The cycle time is significantly less for the same cooling capacity, and ammonia itself is approximately ten times less expensive than other cooling agents. 

    A well-constructed ammonia refrigeration system requires 7 to 8 times less system circulation to create the same cooling capacity. Since less energy is required to drive the coolant cycles, you save on energy costs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from electrical usage. 

    When you replace a traditional refrigeration system with an ammonia system, the initial cost may seem high in comparison to other commercial equipment. However, when the reduced refrigerant costs and energy savings are taken into account, ammonia refrigeration system costs are extremely competitive. In addition, ammonia refrigeration systems are typically designed for rugged industrial use, so even a small system will be more durable and last longer than other types of cooling units.

    Finally, ammonia does not require the same level of regulatory oversight as other refrigeration methods. You are less likely to need expensive upgrades and additions to filter out unwanted emissions, thereby reducing your overhead and eliminating the potential for costly fines and fees.

    Ammonia Refrigeration: Safety

    Ammonia offers safer cooling conditions than many of the more popular refrigeration fluorocarbons, such as freon. Ammonia is highly corrosive, which means that systems are constructed from durable, rugged materials, including steel piping and industrial welds. This makes the risk of gas leaks significantly lower, increasing the overall safety of the system. 

    Ammonia cooling systems can easily be maintained consistent with OSHA regulations for process safety management (29 CFR 1910.119). These guidelines outline best practices for operating procedures, safety requirements, and maintenance processes to ensure employee safety. 

    Ammonia has the added benefit of being “self-alarming”, which is to say that the distinctive strong smell of ammonia can alert workers to a leak very quickly. Small leaks can therefore be detected and repaired more quickly than with less obvious materials such as freon. Most modern ammonia systems are contained closed-loop systems that allow users to monitor and control pressure remotely. This allows technicians to monitor system pressure and detect leaks sooner. 

    In addition, regulatory codes are constantly updated to enhance the safety of ammonia and other refrigeration systems using safety relief and pressure valves to prevent excessive pressure buildup.

    Why Use Ammonia as a Refrigerant? Click to Enlarge

    Quality Ammonia Refrigeration Systems by Kuhlman, Inc.

    Whether you are in need of a small refrigeration system for your restaurant or cafe, or large-scale industrial refrigeration, ammonia is cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, and safe. Ammonia refrigeration systems are dependable for use in food preservation, indirect air conditioning, heat pumps, and even winter sports applications.

    At Kuhlman Incorporated, we offer a wide range of ammonia refrigeration systems for customers in an array of industries. With more than 60 years of experience, we know how to create quality, cost-efficient refrigeration solutions for even the most complex and rigorous applications. To learn how our refrigeration systems can enhance your operation’s efficiency and reduce your environmental impact, contact the experts at Kuhlman, Inc. today or request a quote.

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  3. How Does an Ammonia Refrigeration System Work?

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    Click to ExpandAmmonia Refrigeration System Work

    The cost-effectiveness and performance efficiency make ammonia refrigeration particularly advantageous for large cooling systems found in industrial applications. Ammonia refrigeration also offers the benefit of continually meeting strict refrigerant guidelines, as it is more environmentally friendly than synthetic refrigerant alternatives. Understanding the properties and advantages of ammonia refrigeration is very helpful in determining whether it may be a good option for your needs.
    Ammonia has been used for refrigeration since the 1850s, and it’s still in use today because it’s safe, efficient, and cost-effective. Ammonia has a low boiling point and a high latent heat of vaporization, making it exceptional for cooling large areas efficiently. Though once used extensively in air conditioning systems, it is now the most common refrigerant for industrial applications. Ammonia is at work in refrigeration systems all around you: pharmaceutical labs and storage facilities, cheese and meat processing facilities, beverage companies, cold storage providers, ice skating rinks, and more.

    Ammonia Refrigeration System: How It Works

    Vapor-compression refrigeration systems all work the same way: multiple components work together to draw in warm air, remove the heat, and send the cool air into the space. Ammonia is so good at this because it’s able to absorb more energy than other chemicals as it changes from liquid to vapor, resulting in a system that is up to 10 percent more efficient than one that uses chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as a refrigerant.

    Ammonia Refrigeration System Components

    Vapor-compression refrigeration systems are made of four primary components:

    • Compressor: This is where the ammonia is compressed, creating the high and low pressure zones of the system.
    • Condenser: As that high-pressure gas moves into the condenser, the heat is removed and the ammonia turns from gas into liquid.
    • Expansion Valve: This hole opens into a low pressure area, cooling the ammonia to the desired operating temperature by releasing flash gas. Ammonia liquid then takes the heat from the space and is converted into a vapor where it goes to the compressor to repeat the process.
    • Evaporator: The evaporator is responsible for absorbing heat from the room. 

    Additional components include heat exchangers, valves, thermostats, a receiver tank, and fans to direct the air. 

    Ammonia Refrigeration Steps

    Those components all play a key role in the ammonia refrigeration cycle:

    • Ammonia vapor is compressed.
    • The heated ammonia moves to the condenser, where it releases the heat and condenses back to liquid form.
    • The ammonia boils after moving through the expansion valve into a low-pressure space. This is called “flash gas,” and it cools the ammonia so it can once again take heat from the desired space.
    • In the evaporator coils, cold ammonia absorbs heat. 

    Ammonia Refrigeration Advantages

    Ammonia is still in use as a refrigerant today because it’s effective. It offers many advantages over CFCs and other types of systems:how ammonia refrigeration works

    • Efficiency: A high latent heat of vaporization makes ammonia one of the most efficient refrigerants, which allows for lower utility costs. As compared to CFC refrigerants, an ammonia-based system is 3-10 percent more efficient. It’s a simple step you can take toward having a more environmentally friendly facility. 
    • Ozone Safe: Ammonia doesn’t harm the ozone layer and doesn’t contribute to global warming. CFCs do. 
    • Chemical Cost: Not only is ammonia more energy efficient, it’s also less expensive per pound when compared to CFC’s. While the initial construction of the system is more, it has significant energy savings that offer paybacks within a short time when compared to freon refrigerants.
    • Safety: Ammonia refrigeration systems are built according to strict regulations. It’s highly unlikely for anyone to come in direct contact with the ammonia used in such a system. If there’s a leak, ammonia’s distinctly unpleasant odor will encourage you to leave the area. You can smell ammonia long before it exists in quantities large enough to cause any harm. 

    Read more about the benefits of ammonia, and debunk ammonia refrigeration myths that persist about this highly effective and efficient refrigerant.

    how does an ammonia refrigeration workClick to Enlarge

    Kuhlman Incorporated Refrigeration Solutions

    For decades, Kuhlman Incorporated has specialized in turnkey industrial refrigeration solutions for a variety of industries, including food and beverage, storage and warehousing, and sports and recreation. From an ice cream freezer to an ice skating rink, our refrigeration solutions include custom design and installation, maintenance and repair, and optimization and retrofitting. Our highly experienced team can help with engineering and design, safety compliance, project estimates, on-site project management, system controls, 24-hour parts and service, and so much more. We work according to industry standards as outlined by OSHA, the National Pipe Welding Bureau, IIAR, RETA, ISNET, and other organizations. Lastly, we’re proud to be known for exceptional customer care and collaboration. 

    To learn more about our ammonia refrigeration systems and how we can help you with your next refrigeration project, contact us today. To discuss your system requirements with one of our team members, request a quote.

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  4. Debunking Myths About Ammonia Refrigeration

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    Ammonia refrigerant systems have been used since the 1850s and have always been valued for their efficiency and reliability. Ammonia refrigerant is used for cold food storage, ice skating rinks, and large-scale air conditioning systems. However, this chemical is commonly misunderstood, which has led to some persistent myths about ammonia refrigeration.

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    Ammonia Refrigeration System

    Because concentrated ammonia is so much colder than room temperature, it’s an excellent choice for keeping things cool. In a refrigeration system, the ammonia, which has a low boiling point in its liquid state, pulls heat from one area to allow it to dissipate somewhere else.

    ammonia refrigeration system

    Ammonia Refrigeration Myths

    These are three of the most common myths about ammonia refrigeration:

    Ammonia Is Too Dangerous

    Ammonia is flammable in certain extreme conditions, and in large enough quantities it can cause irritation to your throat, eyes, skin, and more. However, as part of a refrigeration system, the odds of coming into direct contact with ammonia are low, especially because it’s used in conjunction with secondary refrigerants, thereby reducing the amount of ammonia that’s present in the first place.

    In large industrial applications, there are a variety of regulations that must be followed to ensure safety for employees and visitors; when these regulation requirements are met, ammonia refrigerant systems are especially safe and effective.

    Ammonia Will Make the Whole Area Smell Bad

    While it’s true that ammonia has a distinct and unpleasant odor, it’s contained within the system and you won’t smell it at all—unless there’s a leak. If that’s the case, the bad smell is actually an advantage, because it will alert you to the leak and you can evacuate the area. You can smell ammonia before it exists in quantities large enough to cause physical irritation.

    Ammonia Is Expensive

    In fact, ammonia refrigerant can help you save money in a couple of ways. First, it’s less expensive than hydrofluorocarbons and many other refrigerant options. Next, ammonia is up to 39% more efficient than systems that use chlorofluorocarbons at low temperatures, which helps you save money on utility bills while boosting your eco-friendly image.

    Benefits of Ammonia Refrigeration

    Ammonia refrigeration has been in use for so long because it works so well. With proper safety precautions in place, ammonia refrigeration has advantages over systems that rely on chlorofluorocarbons.

    • Greater Efficiency: As mentioned above, ammonia refrigeration is up to 39% more energy efficient in cold temperatures and 32% in medium temperatures.
    • Ozone Safe: Ammonia doesn’t damage the ozone layer or contribute to global warming.
    • Lower Chemical Costs: Ammonia is significantly less expensive than other refrigeration chemicals.

    myths about ammonia refrigerationClick to Enlarge


    industrial ammonia refrigeration

    Uses of Ammonia Refrigeration

    Pharmaceutical manufacturers, food processors, beverage companies, cold storage providers, and outdoor ice rinks all rely on ammonia refrigeration systems. Even though ammonia isn’t as common in air conditioners today, it is still an efficient choice for large air conditioning systems like you see in office buildings, hospitals, and airports.

    Don’t let the myths deceive you: ammonia is a reliable, cost-effective, and safe choice for refrigeration. As a leader in industrial refrigeration, Kuhlman Incorporated offers custom design, installation, sales, service, and parts for ammonia refrigerant systems and other refrigeration solutions. Contact us to learn more about how we serve various industries, or request a quote to discuss your system requirements.

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  5. A Guide to Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration System Components


    Compressor RoomIndustrial ammonia refrigeration systems play an essential role in industrial applications and operations, of the food and beverage industry. They ensure temperature conditions remain at optimal levels for the facility’s products and/or processes by eliminating heat rather than, as commonly believed, creating cold.

    As industrial ammonia refrigeration techniques and technologies advance, companies must stay updated on current best practices and parts to ensure their systems remain the most effective and efficient for their needs. This blog post focuses on the key components found in industrial ammonia refrigeration systems, highlighting how they work and what types are available to help readers identify which one is best for their facility. Industrial ammonia refrigeration systems are broken down to single stage and two stage, with different ways to feed the liquid to the evaporators (flooded, direct expansion, subcooled direct expansion, CPR feed and pumped liquid recirculated).

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    Compressors are the Prime Mover of the Refrigerant

    A compressor collects ammonia vapors generated in the evaporator and maintains its suction pressure. It can increase the ammonia pressure and temperature, by reducing its vapor volume through compression. Then it transfers the ammonia suction vapor developed in the evaporator to the condenser. The ammonia compressor is a part of the refrigeration that separates the high side discharge vapor and the low side suction vapor.  The energy cost of your refrigeration system will be greater than any other system in your facility, due to the operational cost of the compressor, therefore variable frequency drives (VFD’s) are added for variable load conditions. Depending on the system capacity, operating temperatures and load profile, a reciprocating or screw compressor will be the best option.

    A photo of a condenser in an industrial refrigeration systemCondensers Reject Heat

    The condenser is the system that handles the refrigerant after it exits the compressor. It rejects the heat that is absorbed in the ammonia refrigerant from the evaporator and compressor.  The high-pressure ammonia vapor changes state to a high-pressure liquid by transferring heat energy using an evaporative condenser.  An evaporative condenser that utilizes both outside air and water spray for evaporation.  To optimize the system operating cost a variable frequency drives (VFD’s) is added to the evaporative condenser.

    Evaporators Absorb Heat

    The last step of the refrigeration cycle is the liquid ammonia refrigerant moving into the evaporator. The evaporator absorbs unwanted heat from the target areas. As a result of the heat it absorbs, the liquid ammonia refrigerant vaporizes and returns to the compressor as low side suction vapor. There is an array of industrial ammonia evaporator options. These include:

    • Forced air draw thru evaporators
    • Plate and frame or shell & tube evaporators
    • Process air handlers evaporators
    • Jacketed process tanks and silos evaporators

    An infographic that explains the functions of various industrial refrigeration system components

    Learn More About Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration Systems from Kuhlman

    Want to learn more about industrial refrigeration systems? Ask the experts at Kuhlman Incorporated! We have provided turnkey ammonia refrigeration system solutions to the food and beverage industry for over 60 years. Our representatives would be happy to answer and address any questions and concerns you may have about industrial ammonia refrigeration systems.

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  6. Understanding Industrial Refrigeration


    Although COVID-19 has caused a great deal of disruption in many industries, the global industrial refrigeration sector is considered essential, continues to grow, and plays a vital role in a wide variety of the food and beverage industry. For proper functioning, industrial refrigeration systems rely on different components and types of refrigerants to create cool conditions.

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    What Is Industrial Refrigeration?

    Industrial refrigeration is the process of removing heat from an enclosed space, or from a substance, and moving it to a place where it is unobjectionable.  The primary purpose of refrigeration is to lower the temperature of the enclosed space or substance and then maintain the lower temperature.

    Refrigerants for Industrial Refrigeration

    An empty ice rink cooled by industrial refrigeration systems

    A refrigerant is a substance used in the refrigeration heat transfer cycle for moving heat from one region to another.  It must be capable of reversible phase change from liquid to vapor and then from vapor to liquid under a range of reasonable temperatures and pressures. Up until 1987, the most used refrigerants were ammonia, halocarbons R12, R502, and R22.  In 1987, The Montreal Protocol put halocarbons on the hit list, and replacement freons become popular in the commercial and industrial refrigeration industry.

    R-134a HFC Refrigerant

    This refrigerant is known as the replacement for R-12 and is used in various heat pump applications and other commercial refrigeration needs. In the future, it is predicted to be phased out across the world.

    R-404a HFC Refrigerant Blend

    This refrigerant is known as the replacement for halocarbons R12, R502 and R22, and is used in various commercial refrigeration needs. R404a is extremely high in global warming potential and is not the most efficient refrigerant. Due to this, it will also be eventually phased out of use.

    R-744 Carbon Dioxide

    This refrigerant is known as the replacement for halocarbons R12, R502, and R22 and is used in various commercial grocery stores and ice rinks’ refrigeration needs. R-744 is a natural refrigerant, but unlike other natural refrigerants, there is not a safety concern. With hydrocarbons, you have the flammability risk, with ammonia you have the toxicity risk, but with CO2 the safety risk is minimal. To be used as a refrigerant, carbon dioxide must run under extremely high pressure, which includes the pipes, components, and everything else that goes along with the machine.  If lesser components are used, then you pose the risk of constant failure due to the high pressures.


    Ammonia is one of the top picks when it comes to industrial refrigeration such as meatpacking Dairies, large cold storage warehouses, and breweries’ plants. Ammonia is 18% more efficient than freons. Ammonia is chosen as it is highly regarded as the most energy-efficient refrigerant out there. The downside is that ammonia is toxic and can also be slightly flammable. Because of that, OSHA, PMS, RMP, EPA documents need to be developed and monitored.

    industrial compressor refrigeration station at manufacturing factoryComponents of Industrial Ammonia Refrigeration Systems

    Industrial ammonia refrigeration systems are broken down into single stage and two stage, with different ways to feed the liquid to the evaporators. Namely, flooded, direct expansion, subcooled direct expansion, CPR feed, and pumped liquid recirculated.


    1. It is the prime mover of the refrigerant through an ammonia refrigeration system.
    2. Collects ammonia vapors generated in the evaporator and maintains its suction pressure.
    3. The compressor can increase the ammonia pressure and temperature, by reducing its vapor volume through compression.
    4. The compressor transfers the ammonia suction vapor developed in the evaporator to the condenser.

    The ammonia compressor is a part of the refrigeration system where there is a separation between the high side and the low side. It is designed to accept vapor only. If ammonia liquid enters the compressor, there exists a high probability of severe damage to the compressor known as liquid slugging. The compressor uses more energy than any other component in an industrial ammonia refrigeration system.

    Depending on the type of industrial refrigeration system in use, there are an array of industrial compressor options. These include:

    • Reciprocating Compressor
    • Screw Compressor


    1. The purpose of an ammonia condenser is to reject energy (heat) that the refrigerant absorbed into the system at the evaporator and compressor.
    2. The ammonia condenser is the place where the refrigerant superheated ammonia vapor changes state back to a liquid when heat energy is transferred out of the ammonia refrigerant.

    Depending on the type of industrial refrigeration system in use, there are an array of industrial condenser options. These include:

    • Air cooled adiabatic condenser
    • Water cooled plate and frame or shell & tube condenser
    • Evaporative condenser


    1. The purpose of an ammonia evaporator is to absorb heat from the area or product to be cooled.
    2. The Ammonia liquid vaporizes when heat is transferring into the refrigerant.

    Depending on the type of industrial refrigeration system in use, there are an array of industrial evaporator options. These include:

    • Forced air draw thru evaporators
    • Plate and frame or shell & tube evaporators
    • Process air handlers evaporators
    • Jacketed process tanks and silos evaporators

    Depending on the type of industrial refrigeration system in use, there is an array of industrial ammonia components that make the system complete. These include:

    • Isolation and control valves
    • ASME pressure vessels
    • Ammonia pumps
    • ASME pressure piping system
    • Ammonia system safety controls
    • Operating control system

    An infographic explaining the different parts of an industrial refrigeration system

    Industrial Refrigeration Solutions From Kuhlman Inc.

    Since 1957, Kuhlman Inc. has been dedicated to providing our customers with the highest quality industrial refrigeration solutions. We work closely with each client throughout every step of the process, from engineering and design to installation and continued service of the completed refrigeration system. To learn more about our industrial refrigeration solutions, contact us today.

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