A Short Introduction to Industrial Refrigeration

Get to know a few basics about the industrial refrigeration industry. What is the machinery used for, and what does it consist of?

Common Applications

Fully functional, high level industrial refrigeration plays an intrinsic role in the success of any business working in the food industry. From keeping fish fresh onboard trawlers at sea to ensuring bananas are allowed to ripen in a suburban warehouse, refrigerator plants are used worldwide for a whole host of purposes. Dairy products, for example, need to be kept chilled at all times.

Most commercial, industrial and retail buildings will have an air conditioning system in place. This is one of the most common uses of refrigeration that is put to use to cool hot air.

In manufacturing, refrigeration is an absolute must in many cases. For example, it is used to liquify gases such as methane, oxygen and nitrogen. You will also find sophisticated cooling equipment in oil refineries and chemical plants.

Types of Refrigerants

The most common refrigerant used is anhydrous ammonia, also referred to as NH3, R-717 or simply ammonia. It is the most economical of the lot, which contributes majorly to its wide use. The chemical has other advantages as well, such as its excellent heat transfer and latent heat properties. Ammonia, unlike some of its counterparts, is biodegradable and does not contribute to the destruction of the ozone layer.

Propane and propylene are usually found in refineries or major chemical plants. As gases, their downfall is the high flammability so these refrigerants cannot be used in environments where fire and explosions can occur.

Carbon dioxide is an environmentally friendly refrigerant as it is simply gas recovered from the atmosphere. It is predominantly used in situations where particularly low temperatures are required.

Other types of refrigerants do also exist. Their use depends on individual situations and requirements.

Refrigerator System Components

At the heart of the system lies the compressor, occasional referred to as the vapour pump that takes care of pumping the refrigerant, lowering and increasing pressure. Various types of this exist, such as rotary screw compressors, piston compressors and diaphragm compressors.

The evaporator plays an equally important role. It absorbs heat, allows heat to boil off the refrigerant to a vapour, and allows the heat to supercharge the remaining vapour.

A condenser is needed to forbid sensible heat and latent heat from entering the system.

The refrigerant metering device restricts the free flow of the refrigerant, ensuring only a safe and controlled amount is allowed to pass through the liquid line at any one time.

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