Ammonia Vs HFC/HCFC- The guide to finding a better refrigerant

The growing popularity of ammonia as a refrigerant

With the advancement in industrial refrigeration nowadays, fewer CFCs and HCFCs are available as refrigerants; therefore, organisations are looking forward to ammonia as an effective replacement. Based on their research, the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) have found ammonia profitable and efficient alternative to CFCs/HCFCs as it is comparatively safer from the environmental considerations. Ammonia as a refrigerant is a good choice for various large-scale industrial applications where its toxicity & flammability can be managed.

Ammonia is now being frequently used in large freezing and industrial refrigeration systems; also termed ‘anhydrous ammonia’ it contains the least amount of water (it is 99.98% pure). To be used as a refrigerant, ammonia must be at least 99.95% pure. These specific requirements preserve the ammonia concentration and efficiency of the refrigeration systems.

Ammonia as a refrigerant has the following advantages over HFCs/HCFCs:

Cost efficiency - An ammonia-based industrial refrigeration system costs 10-20% less to set up when compared with CFCs for the same plant layout because smaller-diameter pipes can be used in these systems. Ammonia is substantially less expensive to obtain and use than HFCs/HCFCs, making it highly affordable based on per-unit cost.

Efficient performance - Refrigeration systems working on ammonia are 3 to 10% more efficient in performance than the systems that use HFCs/HCFCs as refrigerants. This eventually lowers the energy bills and enhances systems efficiency.

Ozone Safe - Unlike conventional refrigerants like CFCs, ammonia does not damage the ozone layer. Ammonia is rated zero on Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP) and a Global Warming Potential (GWP).

Better heat transfer - Ammonia features better heat transfer properties than other chemical refrigerants. This property enables equipment having a smaller heat transfer area to be easily used in ammonia-based refrigeration systems.

Disadvantages of using ammonia as a refrigerant:

Ammonia is poisonous when accumulated in high concentrations, but there are two factors that help mitigate the risk. Firstly, the distinctive smell of ammonia, which is detectable at very low concentrations, and since it is lighter than air, it rises & dissipates in the atmosphere in case of any leakage.

Why ammonia is a better refrigerant than HFCs/HCFCs?

Ammonia surpasses HFC/HCFC refrigerants in terms of performance as it provides the same cooling with lower power consumption and system costs. Ammonia has high latent heat that permits the use of small-sized liquid line pipes, eventually reducing the system volume of refrigerant required. In ammonia refrigeration systems, the diameter of wet and dry suction pipelines can be smaller for similar suction line pressure drops. The latest ammonia designs and technologies are the preferred option for installations up to 100 kW and larger based on the permissible guidelines.

Economically ammonia is preferred above HFCs/HCFCs due to its low price per kg, as the price is about 90% lower than HFCs. Furthermore, due to ammonia’s low specific weight, only half the weight is required for the same volume of HFCs/HCFCs. Based on the environmental considerations, ammonia has the highest possible efficiency and the lowest indirect CO2 footprint among different refrigerants.

In conclusion

Danfoss has 60 years of experience in using ammonia-based refrigeration systems. Danfoss has developed a wide range of valves & control solutions for industrial refrigeration systems which run with ammonia as the refrigerant.  Using the Danfoss technological solutions, you can take advantage of a single supplier facilitating the complete industrial refrigeration process. Danfoss solutions offer intelligent and cost-efficient modular solutions equipped with simplicity, advanced flexibility, time and cost-saving efficiency, and. Danfoss Flexline products range comprises SVL line components, the ICV platform of control, solenoid valves (ICS, ICM, and ICLX), and ICF valve stations. All types of Danfoss refrigeration solutions are the flag bearers of savings on overall life cycle costs and energy consumption. To know more about the sustainable transformation, write to us at