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Ammonia Replaces CFCs with Help from Vipel Technology

10 February 2006

An emergency system designed and manufactured by Heil Process Equipment with the help of Vipel technology from AOC is helping industry return to the use of ammonia as a refrigeration compound for production needs.

The Heil scrubber system includes composite equipment that benefits from the corrosion-resistant and fire-retardant properties of Vipel K022C bisphenol A epoxy vinyl ester.

Ammonia (NH3) and similar gases were liquefied under pressure and commonly used as refrigeration compounds until the 1930s when chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, were introduced. However, CFCs’ link to depletion of the Earth’s ozone led to a government mandate against their use.

When a major pharmaceutical company saw the potential of returning to ammonia as an effective CFC alternative, there was concern over ammonia’s toxicity, especially to marine life, in the event of an emergency. To address the issue, Heil Process Equipment came up with a scrubber system that protects the environment if ammonia accidentally leaked from the refrigeration system into the production room. Emergency fumes captured

During an unlikely release of ammonia, the Heil system’s primary gas inlet would capture fumes into an 8-foot (2.4-metre) diameter cylindrical sump tank containing an acid-scrubbing solution. The tank’s double-wall construction with moisture detector in the interstitial space eliminates the need for a more costly secondary containment system. Captured fumes would be directed through a perforated header into a 4-foot diameter by 22-foot high (1.2- by 6.7-metre) tower which holds a packed column of more acid-scrubbing solution.

Major components of the Heil system must withstand the corrosive effects of acidic, ammonia-rich gases being conveyed under -20 inches water vacuum (-0.05 bar). For added safety at the work site, system components must also be fire-retardant.

For the system’s double-walled sump tank, tower and fan, Heil meets performance requirements with fibreglass-reinforced composite moulded via the hand lay-up process with Vipel K022C resin. “In addition to providing good handling characteristics, Vipel vinyl esters are backed with the helpful technical support of the AOC Corrosion Team when needed,” says Bob Hahn, general manager for Heil Process Equipment.






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