Ammonia has, for many decades now, stood out as being the refrigerant of choice for businesses like food and drink manufacturing which need temperature-controlled storage or process cooling. Ammonia found favor over other halogenated hydrocarbon refrigerants due to its high efficiency and zero global warming effect, making it the best eco-friendly and low-cost option for refrigeration. However, when not handled correctly, ammonia systems pose a lot of danger.
Risks Involved in Ammonia Refrigeration Systems
Although it is a natural refrigerant, ammonia is highly toxic. It is a colorless gas with an irritating pungent smell that is highly hygroscopic when in its anhydrous form. These properties make leaks in ammonia systems hazardous occurrences.
Ammonia systems are also prone to dangers of over pressurization. Over pressurization may sometimes lead to explosions when the refrigeration system is at high temperatures because ammonia is also highly flammable.
Due to these reasons, there are several regulations that industrial ammonia refrigeration plants need to adhere to. In the last few decades, the USA has enacted strict policies to help companies maintain safety when using ammonia systems.
Process Safety Management
In 1992, the Federal Register issued the OSHA PSM standard to provide requirements for the management of highly hazardous chemicals in workplaces. The PSM standard applies to systems that contain over 10,000 pounds of ammonia. The PSM standard contains fourteen elements such as Process hazard analysis, training, and emergency planning, and response programs that workplaces have to adhere to ensure safety.
When planning and installing your ammonia systems, make sure that you use a company that follows federal requirements, like R.M. Technologies of America. You also need to ensure that your system stays up-to-date as new requirements are put into effect.
Risk Management Program
The Risk Management Program for Chemical Accidental Release Prevention was enacted in 1999 to minimize the impact on the public and environment in case of accidental chemical releases.
Other government policy thresholds include; Tier 2 reporting, General Duty Clause, Ammonia Refrigeration Management Program, and the Department of Homeland Security Chemical Facilities Anti-Terrorism Standard.
Safety Measures to Take at an Ammonia Refrigeration Plant
The most critical step to take for accident prevention is to train your personnel. Depending on the duties of your staff, you need to educate them. Teach them about the danger of leaking ammonia, and train them to have familiarity with the equipment and alarm systems.
Although you can put sufficient prevention measures, accidents do happen. Therefore, you need to equip yourself with internal emergency plans. The plans should be anchored on how to limit damage to people, property, and the environment in case of an accident.
Ammonia refrigerant systems are convenient and efficient due to its many desirable properties, but ammonia systems require special care and control. Ammonia leaks can be dangerous to man and the environment. Effective safety management of industrial ammonia refrigeration systems requires that one follows the minimum set regulations and also puts additional measures to ensure control of all processes.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing.