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Anhydrous Ammonia Refrigeration and the Importance of Purity

Anhydrous Ammonia Refrigeration and the Importance of Purity

An anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system is highly efficient and an eco-friendly choice for industrial facilities today. The term “anhydrous” means to not have any moisture or water in the system. In Greek, it means “without water.” In fact, it is very important to keep moisture out of your ammonia (NH3) cooling system. Here are some helpful tips for keeping it pure.

Understanding NH3 Properties

Ammonia’s chemical symbol is NH3, and this means each molecule contains a single atom of nitrogen and 3 atoms of hydrogen. NH3 makes a good cleaner and chemical compound because it is easily dissolved in water. When you mix water (H20) and NH3, you get a compound called ammonia hydroxide, and it is commonly found in many household cleaning products. However, this solution is highly diluted to keep toxicity to a minimum.

Ammonia and Purity

In order to maintain efficiency and properly cool, anhydrous ammonia refrigeration must contain no water. In fact, it needs 99.95 % purity or 33 ppm (parts per million). Some refrigerating systems use oil in the refrigerant to keep parts lubricated. However, NH3 systems cannot have much oil in them. In fact, they cannot contain more than 2 ppm.

How do Impurities Get in the System?

There are several conditions which contribute to NHS system moisture contamination. For example, when a technician charges the system or makes repairs to pipes, it can leave it open to moisture penetration. If valves have faulty packing, moisture can enter. Over time, NH3 breaks down, and water can sometimes form.


Too much moisture in an anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system can cause freezing which may lead to catastrophic results. Components can get stressed, and this may cause leaks. Ammonia leaks are dangerous because the fumes can create respiratory and skin problems. This is why you must maintain a moisture-free system at all times.

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