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Pros and Cons of Using Ammonia as a Refrigerant

The first time ammonia was used for refrigeration, it was 1876. America was celebrating her centennial, and Ulysses S. Grant was wrapping up his last term in office. Even though it has now been used for a little over 140 years a refrigerant in industrial applications, it still remains popular today. However, there is still some debate as to whether it works in all circumstances. Are you wondering if ammonia would work for you and your industrial refrigeration requirements? Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Pro: More Efficient

Ammonia is widely recognized as one of the efficient energy applications out there. First of all, Ammonia is 3–10% more efficient than the standard CFC refrigerants. Secondly, ammonia usually beats their DX R404A counterpart by a good 15–20%. Ammonia is even more efficient when it is paired with NH3 and CO2.

Pro: More Environmentally Friendly

An ammonia refrigerant is better for the environment. One of the reasons is that ammonia is classified as a natural refrigerant. Ammonia also has a Global Warming Potential (GWP) and an Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) that is equal to zero. Another great thing about ammonia is that it is a renewable resource. Ammonia consists of one nitrogen atom bonded to three hydrogen atoms. More and more individuals are recognizing ammonia as an effective green alternative fuel. Indeed, there are so many things you can do with it. You can burn ammonia, store it, ship it, or even convert it back into hydrogen and nitrogen. Additionally, although fuel cell cars seem to be a dying trend in the United States, Japan is still interested in this product and they continue to eye ammonia as a fuel choice for this efficient mode of transportation.

Con: Toxic

Unfortunately, ammonia is poisonous in high concentrations. It can be extremely hazardous to humans, and it definitely should be kept out of the reach of young children. Moreover, you should never mix ammonia and bleach. Even though ammonia will generally leave behind a foul odor, you shouldn’t take any chances if you are using this as a refrigerant. It’s always a good idea to label your pipes, but ammonia pipes in particular should always be marked.

Though figuring out which component is best to use as a refrigerant may be difficult, it’s important to figure out what will work best for you and your company. If you keep all of these factors in mind you will be better equipped to determine if ammonia is the right component for your industrial refrigeration system.

For all your refrigeration needs, Northeast Cooling is here to help. Check out our selection of refrigeration products!


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