Sulfur Dioxide Refrigerants

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Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a colorless gas or liquid. It is toxic, with a very pungent odor. When sulfur is burned in air, sulfur dioxide is formed. When sulfur dioxide combines with water it produces sulfuric and sulfurous acids. These acids are very corrosive to metal. They have an adverse effect on most materials. Sulfur dioxide is not considered a safe refrigerant. Sulfur dioxide is not considered safe when used in large quantities. As a refrigerant, sulfur dioxide operates on a vacuum to give the temperatures required. Moisture in the air will be drawn into the system when a leak occurs. This means the metal parts will eventually corrode, causing the compressor to seize.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) boils at 14°F (?10°C) and has a heat of vaporization at boiling point (1 atm) of 172.3 Btu/lb. It has a latent heat value of 166 Btu/lb.

To produce the same amount of refrigeration, sulfur dioxide requires about one-third more vapor than Freon and methyl chloride. This means the condensing unit has to operate at a higher speed or the compressor cylinders must be larger. Since sulfur dioxide does not mix well with oil the suction line must be on a steady slant to the machine. Otherwise, the oil will trap out, constricting the suction line. This refrigerant is not feasible for use in some locations.

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