has long been a standard refrigerant of choice in cold storage and other refrigeration systems, which further created the need to take advantage of the benefits of ammonia while reducing the risks. This brings us to modern low-charge ammonia systems that allow for up to 95% charge reduction. Whilst the technology is nothing new, interest in it is growing, especially as a result of regulatory considerations.
While the EU F-Gas Regulation is phasing out common HFC refrigerants such as R404A or R507 and imposing a lot more reporting and compliance requirements on HFC-based systems, ammonia, being a natural refrigerant
, has got no limits to its future. More stringent safety considerations with regard to the use of ammonia are creating momentum for low-charge ammonia technology, especially in new installations.What the industry sees in Low-charge Ammonia?
Ammonia is less expensive than hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other refrigerants. For example, it takes six volumes of R134A to produce the same cooling effect as one volume of ammonia. Because of the lower energy cost, low-charge packaged refrigeration equipment is cost competitive over its lifetime. Apart from the cost and increased safety of installations, low-charge ammonia is widely considered to deliver better energy performance than traditional ammonia systems, which are already more efficient than HFC-based technology.
The key criterion for a low-charge ammonia system involves the use of energy-efficient components to ensure the maximum possible efficiency of the overall system. Reliability across different operating conditions as well as the need for leak-free and affordable systems that do not require special permits or reporting is equally taken into consideration. Because Ammonia is safe
Industry experts would agree that ammonia will continue to play a significant role in HVAC applications because there are three realistic natural refrigerant options: ammonia, propane and CO2. Propane chillers would give us almost the same performance as ammonia. But propane is heavier than air while ammonia is lighter; thus in the case of any leak ammonia gas will rise up, far from populated zones. Heavier gas can be trapped close to the floor and reach potentially dangerous concentrations.Future Growth & Developments
- As for the future development of low-charge ammonia systems, researchers are looking at developing a semi-hermetic compressor for ammonia and using a condenser with a micro channel to allow for better heat transfer.
- The newest, most modern low charge ammonia solutions are breaking efficiency targets by more than doubling the EU’s minimum energy efficiency rules set for 2019.
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