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: 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.
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.