Ammonia Refrigerants

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Ammonia (NH3) is used most frequently in large industrial plants. Freezers for packing houses usually employ ammonia as a refrigerant. It is a gas with a very noticeable odor. Even a small leak can be detected with the nose. Its boiling point at normal atmospheric pressure is ?28°F (?33°C). Its freezing point is ?107.86°F (?77.7°C). It is very soluble in water. Large refrigeration capacity is possible with small machines. It has high latent heat [555 Btu at 18°F (?7.7°C)]. It can be used with steel fittings. Water-cooled units are commonly used to cool down the refrigerant. High pressures are used in the lines (125 to 200 psi). Anyone inside the refrigeration unit when it springs a leak is rapidly overcome by the fumes. Fresh air is necessary to reduce the toxic effects of ammonia fumes. Ammonia is combustible when combined with certain amounts of air (about one volume of ammonia to two volumes of air). It is even more combustible when combined with oxygen. It is very toxic. Heavy steel fittings are required since pressures of 125 to 200 psi are common. The units must be water cooled.

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