Refrigeration and temperature regulation within cold storage facilities, blast freezers and other areas in food and beverage plants is critical to ensuring food is stored safely for human consumption.
With repercussions of foodborne illnesses presenting significant financial, reputational and legal issues for food producers and processors, maintaining strict temperature controls within the industrial refrigeration industry is key.
Ammonia (NH3) is one of the most common industrial chemicals, used widely as a refrigeration gas throughout the food and beverage industry as it offers superior refrigerant advantages. Not only is ammonia abundant and extremely efficient in refrigeration systems, requiring less energy per BTU, its low infrared (IR) absorption profile translates into zero global warming potential. ZERO.
In an industry that is under increasing pressure to keep costs to a minimum while achieving high efficiency and sustainability levels, ammonia is a shoe-in as the preferred, low-cost, environmentally friendly refrigerant for industrial food processes, cold storage and pharmaceutical applications. However, these positives come at the cost of a number of serious risks to the safety of consumers and plant workers.
OH&S issues – Ammonia is in fact highly corrosive and toxic, thus presenting serious health risks to anyone who is exposed to it. Safe Work Australia’s Workplace Exposure Standards for Airborne Contaminants recommends monitoring ammonia is it is a known risk. The standards recommend that ammonia is kept below 25 parts per million (ppm).
Combustible – Ammonia is also highly combustible. Therefore, gas leaks create significant operational risk through their potential for explosions, fire and food spoilage.
Difficult detection – As if to add salt to the wound, while ammonia’s low IR absorption profile contributes nothing to global warming, it makes it difficult for conventional, low-cost IR detectors to accurately read and detect low-ppm gas levels.
Next-Generation Ammonia Detection
Responding to the need for a resilient, long-lasting ammonia sensor, Honeywell Analytics has engineered a new sensor —the EC-FX. This technological breakthrough uses a proprietary, non-evaporative electrolyte to offer numerous advantages over the standard formulation:
- Longer lifespan & lower costs – The sensor’s thicker, higher-viscosity electrolyte lasts two to three years in engine rooms and up to four years in refrigerated areas. That’s up to 18 months longer than most other ammonia sensors.
- Responsiveness – The new sensor reacts quickly to ammonia gas in both hot and cold environments, without false alarms.
- Accuracy and stability – The sensor maintains sensitivity, accuracy and a more consistent linear response — even after exposure to ammonia gas and extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity.
For more information on the new and improved Honeywell Analytics technology developed for ammonia gas detection, click here.