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Tuesday, April 30, 2019  (Comments: 1)

An 80-page governmental report has recommended the global shipping industry reduce its reliance on hydrofluorocarbon-based refrigerants and convert systems to use “natural working fluids”.

The paper, Refrigeration units in marine vessels: Alternatives to HCFCs and high-GWP HFCs, published in April by the Nordic Council of Ministers, a Denmark-based forum for inter-governmental cooperation, recommends the "entire maritime sector to convert current refrigeration units from HFCs directly to natural working fluids," such as Ammonia and Carbon Dioxide (CO2).

Acknowledging that some of these “natural fluids” could have negative effects on the environment, flagging up the toxicity of ammonia, in particular, the authors suggest these safety and environmental concerns can be solved with “proper technical safety strategies and available technology”.

“Ammonia is toxic but has been successfully applied in refrigeration systems for 150 years,” the paper states, adding that Carbon Dioxide’s high working pressure could be beneficial in terms of reducing system footprint.

Highlighting the documented health and safety risks related to newly introduced HFOs, which “have turned out to be environmentally unacceptable”, the paper’s authors recommend further research and development of natural refrigerant systems for marine vessels, calling for on all industry stakeholders to “intensify knowledge transfer”.

In particular, the Nordic Council of Ministers advocate the setting up of a R&D Hub tasked with developing and designing guidelines for marine refrigeration systems with no environmental impact.

The International Maritime Organisation estimates that the world merchant fleet, which currently uses 70% R22, 26% R134a and 4% R404A, releases about 8,400t of refrigerant to atmosphere, which corresponds to around 15 million tons CO2 equivalent emissions. Refrigerant emissions constitute about 2% of the shipping industry’s total GHG emissions.

The paper can be read in full here.

Reader Comments (1)

During my apprenticeship in 1947 i spent 6 months in the Cosens Weymouth refridge plant which was using ammonia gas so i trust gas mask will be supplied . I cannot imagine using ammonia at sea. By the way my sandwiches always turned yellow.

By David Johnson on Monday, May 6, 2019

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