Although there may be a temptation to simply treat A2L refrigerants as equivalent to ammonia with respect to flammability hazard, ammonia really is an entity unto itself. Like an A2L, it exhibits a low-flame velocity in flammability tests, but ammonia has the unique safety advantage of a strong and unmistakable odor that is typically present long before the onset of a flammability hazard. All of the current A2L refrigerants, on the other hand, are odorless.
Ammonia is both a friend to refrigeration contractors and a danger, too. When used properly in refrigeration units, its outstanding heat transfer capabilities can keep food cold for long periods of time, it does not harm the environment, and it is biodegradable. But exposure to ammonia does pose a danger to human health.
Now that the industry is all confused about HCFC refrigerants, it might be time to pay a bit more attention to another refrigerant that has been around a long time, doesn’t cost all that much, and has a solid track record.
Safety is paramount when working with ammonia refrigerants. Why? If something does go wrong in such a situation, it can have grave consequences. Ammonia is a health risk because of its corrosiveness to skin, eyes, and lungs. In fact, exposure to 300 ppm creates an imminent danger to life and health.
Refrigeration contractors know that there are several upsides to ammonia refrigerants. The most common is its compatibility with the environment. Ammonia does not contribute to global warming because it does not deplete the ozone layer. It has thermodynamic qualities that require less electricity in its usage.
The use of ammonia as a refrigerant has been around for approximately 160 years, dating back to its first use in France in the 1850s. It first appeared in the United States in the 1860s when it was used for artificial ice production. Its latest uses are a testament to the growing popularity of ammonia refrigerants.
As the world of refrigeration moves away from traditional CFCs and HCFCs toward more environmentally friendly alternatives, the use of ammonia refrigerants has been gaining in popularity and trending upwards.
The ammonia gas sensor module Model 5100-25-IT utilizes smart sensor technology and is network-enabled with a choice or combination of outputs: Serial RS-485 Modbus RTU interface, 4-20 mA, and optional 8-A integral relays.
A lot of talk these days about natural refrigerants focuses on CO2, propane, isobutene, and the like. Stateside, they may be new kids on the block in terms of HVACR applications. But one natural refrigerant that has been around seemingly forever is ammonia. So it - like those “newcomers” - is drawing a lot of attention.