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.
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 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.
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.