"Very favourable" business and policy climate for ammonia in North America

By Janaina Topley Lira, Mar 28, 2013, 18:21 3 minute reading

One of the largest opportunities for natural refrigerant market growth can be found in North America, as identified in the latest shecco GUIDE, “Natural Refrigerants - Market Growth for North America”. In addition to examining the various uses of ammonia today, and bringing together best practices in several case studies, the publication confirms its widespread use, a high level of familiarity with the refrigerant, and reveals future market prospects.

The dominant refrigerant in the industrial refrigeration sector, ammonia’s popularity can be attributed to the fact that it produces the greatest net refrigerating effect (btu/lb) and the lowest brake horsepower per ton of refrigeration (bhp/tr) of any industrial refrigerant. shecco’s GUIDE centralises scattered information regarding ammonia refrigeration and provides and easy-to-understand overview of its current end-uses and of its use potential, as evaluated by over 500 HVAC&R industry experts. 
Wide variety of end-uses covered by ammonia 
shecco’s unique Ecosystem diagrams provide a visual representation of NR end-uses in North America today. The concrete examples of ammonia end-uses that accompany the ecosystem illustrations, clearly demonstrate the wide range of applications suitable for ammonia refrigeration. 
  • Food processing, storage and distribution: Baltimore-based Northeast Foods, which supplies McDonald’s with most of their hamburger buns relies on ammonia refrigeration at the company’s Clayton facility. The largest cold storage distribution centre in the US, the 840,000 sq. ft . (78,000 m2) black mountain facility in North Carolina also relies on ammonia, whilst United States Cold Storage is pioneering a CO2/NH3 cascade system.
  • Commercial Refrigeration: Thanks to reduced ammonia charge sizes, and improved safety features, NH3/CO2 cascade systems are attracting interest form several larger North American chains. For example, retailer SUPERVALU installed an ammonia primary system and a CO2 cascade system in its Carpinteria, Albertson’s store in California. 
  • District heating and cooling: beneath the streets of downtown Chicago, a network of pipes distributing chilled water forms part of one of the world’s largest interconnected district cooling systems. Ammonia chillers, ice tanks, and river water chillers provide cooling for air conditioning in buildings, removing on peak grid stress.
  • Construction: To ensure concrete hardens uniformly, and to facilitate excavation by freezing soil, large ammonia refrigeration systems are often relied upon. For example, the digging of three interstate i-90 tunnels, completed in 2003 in Boston, involved the use of an ammonia plant to chill the brine and freeze the ground, enabling construction to proceed effectively and safely.
  • Winter Sports: Around the US and Canada many ice rinks rely on ammonia refrigeration. In addition several Olympic parks have used ammonia to refrigerate bobsled tracks, such as the Utah and Vancouver Parks.
Ammonia refrigeration market in the commercial and industrial refrigeration sectors according to industry experts
According to the results of a 2012 survey of North American HVAC&R industry experts, more than half of all respondents (51%) believe the market share of ammonia is currently more than 50%. Respondents also predict that ammonia will continue to largely dominate the industrial refrigeration market in the future, although new technology developments and refrigerants could have a slight impact on its dominance.
A majority of the 164 respondents (84%) believe that ammonia refrigeration for commercial applications remains a small market (0-5%) today, but nearly a third (31%) of respondents believe ammonia’s market share will have increased to more than 5% by 2015. By 2020, nearly half (48%) of the respondents are confident that ammonia will cover more than 5% of the commercial refrigeration market.
Ammonia - a popular and familiar refrigerant
shecco’s North American survey also revealed that ammonia enjoys the highest single level of familiarity - “very familiar” option among customers, a result of its continued use in North America. 
Respondents were also asked about which natural refrigerants they are planning to use and when, revealing ammonia to be the most popular choice today, with two-thirds (67%) of those who took the survey saying that they use ammonia today. 63% of respondents also think that the business and policy climate for ammonia is either “very favourable” or “rather favourable”.


By Janaina Topley Lira

Mar 28, 2013, 18:21

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