For all practical purposes, liquid ammonia and oil are immiscible (not capable of being mixed). Since the density of oil is greater than that of ammonia, it will fall to the bottom of any vessel containing such a mixture if the mixture is relatively placid. Therefore. the removal of oil from an ammonia system is a comparatively simple task. Generally, on systems equipped with a surge drum, the liquid leg is extended downward below the point where the liquid is fed off to the evaporator. Adrain valve is provided to allow periodic manual draining (see Fig. 11-47).
For flooded chillers that do not use a surge drum, a sump with a drain valve is usually provided at the bottom of the chiller shell. These methods are quite satisfactory, except possibly on some low-temperature systems. Here, the drain leg or sump generally must be warmed prior to attempting to draw off the oil. The trapped oil becomes quite viscous at lower temperatures.
If oil is not drained from a flooded ammonia system, a reduction in the evaporator heat-transfer rate can occur due to an increase in the refrigerant film resistance. Difficulty in maintaining the proper liquid level with any type of flooded control can also be expected.
With a float valve, you can expect the liquid level in the evaporator to increase with high concentration of oil in a remote float chamber. If a level-master control is used with the insert bulb installed in a remote chamber, oil concentration at the bulb can cause overfeeding with possible flood-back. The lower or liquid-balance line must be free of traps and be free-draining into the surge drum or chiller, as shown in Fig. 11-48. The oil drain leg or sump must be located at the lowest point in the low side.