Trends in Ammonia Refrigeration for Industrial Applications

For over a century, ammonia has been the most popular refrigerant used in industrial applications. It is highly effective, very predictable, and it has been extensively tested and improved. Nevertheless, like all innovations, industrial refrigeration in Ipswich and the surrounding areas faces new challenges.

One of the biggest, and the thing which is currently driving and shaping the industry, is sustainability. Many of the synthetic refrigerants (HFC, HFO, and CFC) are now being tightly restricted by new environment controls. While ammonia and hydrocarbons are not classified in the same way, these changes still affect their use and accessibility.

This guide to the current status of ammonia in industrial refrigeration will explore some of the trends creating innovation.

Modern Applications

Now that engineers are spending more time on sustainable technology, there is a greater interest in the recycling of energy. For instance, the popularity of high pressure ammonia heat pumps is on the rise. This is a big development, because the substance has long been limited by its incompatibility with elevated temperatures.

As increasingly sophisticated refrigeration components hit the market, ammonia applications are expanding too. Today, some food retailers in Ipswich rely on ammonia/CO2 systems for the smooth operation of their refrigerators. One challenge which is yet to be overcome is the broad application of smaller ammonia DX systems, but this is expected in the future.

Safety Objectives

It is worth noting that safety requirements are growing more stringent too. When it comes to ammonia, leak prevention is vital, as the substance is more flammable than HFC and HFO. It has a higher toxicity, so it is favourable to restrict the ammonia charge in the system. All components must be physically checked for leaks on a regular basis.

If possible, flanged, screwed, and other similar joints should be swapped for permanent types, as they have a higher leak potential. At the moment, the sticking point with ammonia is that, you can increase its safety, but it often requires the addition of CO2 cascade features. This often prevents the substance from operating efficiently at high temperatures.

High Pressure Demands

The need for refrigeration components which can handle high pressure conditions is definitely increasing. While the commercial demand for valves with PS 65 bar (designed for ammonia pumps) is somewhat limited, their application is expanded if they are considered in conjunction with the value of high pressure CO2 valves.

Components for 90 bar are useful in CO2 setups, because they ensure that the system pressure when inactive does not rise beyond the maximum working pressure. In simple terms, there would be no need for secondary cooling devices. Unfortunately, the industry is probably still quite a way from developing viable 90 bar components.

Cost Efficiency

Industrial refrigeration is currently benefiting from a renewed focus on system efficiency. For many businesses, this is taking the form of motorised valves and electronic controls, because automation and remote technologies are great cost cutters. When skilfully designed, motorised valves are able to provide fast, accurate responses.

This allows engineers and technicians to control flow, pressure, and temperature in real time. It means a lower risk of pressure fluctuations and compressor overloads. It also helps to reduce transient conditions. After installation, the motorised valves are configured and regulated to match system requirements.

To find out more about industrial refrigeration and ammonia heat pumps, click here to visit Welch Refrigeration. Or, call 01473 425 495 to speak to a technician and request a cost estimate for your business.