These fluids have virtually zero ODP and zero GWP when released into the atmosphere and therefore present a very friendly environmental picture. Ammonia has long been used as a refrigerant for industrial applications.

The engineering and servicing requirements are well established to deal with its high toxicity and flammability. There have been developments to produce packaged liquid chillers with ammonia as the refrigerant for use in air-conditioning in supermarkets, for example.

Ammonia cannot be used with copper or copper alloys, so refrigerant piping and components have to be steel or aluminium. This may present difficulties for the air conditioning market where copper has been the base material for piping and plant.

One property that is unique to ammonia compared to all other refrigerants is that it is less dense than air, so a leakage of ammonia results in it rising above the plant room and into the atmosphere. If the plant room is outside or on the roof of a building, the escaping ammonia will drift away from the refrigeration plant.

The safety aspects of ammonia plants are well documented and there is reason to expect an increase in the use of ammonia as a refrigerant.

Hydrocarbons such as propane and butane are being successfully used as replacement and new refrigerants for R12 systems. They obviously have flammable characteristics which have to be taken into account by health and safety requirements.

However, there is a market for their use in sealed refrigerant systems such as domestic refrigeration and unitary air-conditioners.

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