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A Book on

on board ships.
By C. Rajesh Mahadevan

With great pleasure and immense joy I dedicate this book to my
dear friends and colleagues, marine engineers appearing for MEO
Class IV Part B.
The main objective of this book is to make the subject clear and
easy to understand. I have referred many books and sources on the
net to fulfill this objective and have almost covered all the terms
and process under this topic. I have also shared some of my selfexperience encountered on board my ship with provision plant.
I hope this book will be very useful to all, who appearing for Class
IV exams and will help and guide each and everyone in their
journey to success.
I would like to thank my parents, friends, colleagues and my elders
for helping me directly or indirectly for this work of mine.
I would specially like to thank Mr.Rethinam Stalin and
encouragement, guidance and support this book, would not have
been possible.

- The author




Definitions & Accessories.


Properties of Refrigerants.


Vapour Compression Cycle.


Thermostatic Expansion Valve.


Back Pressure Valve.


Trouble Shooting.


Frequently Asked Questions.



A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

Chapter I
The Refrigeration is a process in which work is done to remove heat
from one location to another. In this the room temperature is brought well
below to its atmospheric temperature. The first thing comes into all our mind
when talking about refrigeration is our domestic Refrigerator or Fridge. But in
this book we are going to deal with our Provision cooling plant.
Refrigeration is used widely onboard ships for various purposes
such as for Cooling Provision good, Cooling Perishable goods as cargo in cargo
holds, in refrigerated containers in container ships, in control air dryer for
removing moisture from air, and also in bulk CO2 system onboard ro-ro ships.
The purpose of refrigeration for provision good is that it will slow
down the bacterial process and keep the food items in a good condition for
longer time. Onboard ships there will be a minimum of two or three refrigerated
rooms namely Meat room, Vegetable room & Potato room. In all the three
rooms the temperature maintained are different and are as follows -24, 8 and 4
respectively. A single compressor and condensers serves these purposes.
The refrigerant used widely onboard ships now-a-days are R 134-a
and R 417-a being eco-friendly. R 22 is not used now due to its effect of
harming the environment.
The main components of refrigeration system
The refrigeration system mainly consists of four components,
they are, 1. Compressor
2. Condenser
3. Expansion Valve
4. Evaporator
The other components in the system namely the receiver, dryer,
filter, oily mixture separator, solenoid valves, back pressure valves etc., we will
study the working and function of all these components in the upcoming
chapters in a detailed manner.

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A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

Chapter II
Definitions & Accessories

this Chapter we will see the various terms and components

associated with refrigeration process, definitions and working.

Refrigeration ton
The refrigeration ton is the unit used to indicate the heat removal
capacity of the system.
Boiling point
The boiling point is the temperature at which a liquid boils at a fixed
pressure, especially under standard atmospheric conditions.
The boiling point of a substance is the temperature at which the vapor
pressure of the liquid equals the environmental pressure. It is also called
Saturation temperature.
Specific heat of liquid
The specific heat of liquid is the amount of heat per unit mass required
to raise the temperature by one degree Celsius.
Critical temperature
The critical temperature is the temperature above which a gas cannot
be liquefied, regardless of the pressure applied.
Latent heat
The latent heat is the energy required to change the phase of a
Latent heat of Vaporization
The latent heat of vaporization is the change of phase of any matter
from liquid to gas.

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A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

Heat transfer co-efficient

The heat transfer co-efficient is used in calculating the heat transfer,
typically by convection or phase change between a fluid and a solid.

The compressor is a machine or pump in which the pressure and
temperature of gas or air is increased by compression.
The purpose of compressor in refrigeration unit is to raise the
pressure and move it along the system and to increase the temperature of gas
well above its critical temperature.
The unloader is provided on the compressor to prevent the
compressor from starting on load, due to which the motor will draw high
current or damage of motor. It also serves a purpose that till the desired lube
oil pressure is achieved the compressor will not come on load. The unloader
unit will keep the suction valve open till the lube oil pressure is achieved.
A condenser is a device or unit used to condense a substance from
its gaseous to its liquid state, typically by cooling it. They are typically heat
exchangers with various types and sizes.
It is used in refrigeration system
to get rid of heat from the interior of the unit
to the outside air or water. By doing so, the
latent heat is given up by the refrigerant,
and will transfer to the condenser coolant.
On ships the widely used condenser for
refrigeration plant is shell and tube type and
the cooling media being fresh water. i.e.,
Low temperature water. The fresh water is
obtained from a branch connection from the
Low temperature (LT) fresh water system
through a separate LT pump in modern
ships with central cooling system. A purge

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A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

cock is mounted on the condenser on the refrigerant side to remove air or other
gases which are non-condensable or lighter than the vapour refrigerant. Crosssectional view of shell & tube condenser is shown in the fig. 2.1 above.
Oily mixture separator
The oily mixture separator is a device in the discharge side of the
compressor to remove the oil particles in the gas. There are possibilities of the
crankcase oil being carried to the piston crown as in air compressor due to
faulty piston rings and worn cylinder. The oily mixture separator thus removes
oil from the system and improves its efficiency.
Working principle of oily mixture separator
(1) Baffle type
The gas enters the inlet of the oil separator, this mixture flows
through a filter and a baffle device, making the oil particles aggregate and drop
to the bottom of the oil separator. The refrigerant gas will go through the outlet,
and enter the condenser under oil-less status when the filter separates the
remaining oil particles from the gas. The oil of the refrigerant aggregates at the
bottom of the oil separator, and a needle valve operated by a floating ball is
opened to let oil return to the compressor. Since the pressure of the oil
separator is higher than the pressure of the crankcase, the oil can quickly
return to the compressor. When the oil level drops, the needle valve is closed to
prevent the refrigerant gas from returning to the compressor. As shown in fig.
2.2 below.

Fig. 2.2 Baffle type

Fig. 2.3 Helical type

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A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

(2) Helical type

Helical separators depend on the interior shell design to force the
gas/oil mixture along a spiral path. This creates a centrifugal force which
forces the oil droplets to the outside of the spiral where they collect and drain
to the float valve below. A supposed drawback to this type of unit is that
centrifugal force only works effectively on relatively large oil droplets. Fig. 2.3.
The function of a Receiver is to store the liquid refrigerant which is
supplied to evaporator and is also capable of storing the entire refrigerant in
system when the system is under maintenance. It acts as a reservoir on the
high side of a system with hold refrigerant. They have a dip tube to the outlet
side which ensures that a full column of liquid refrigerant feeds the liquid line.
They store refrigerant which may be needed at another time by an evaporator
with the Expansion valve when the evaporator load increases and more flow is
Filter Drier
The system must go through a drying process, in order to remove the
moisture and water inside. The purpose of a drier is to trap any trace of
moisture of impurities. The removal of moisture from the system is necessary
because of the ice formation or ice plug appearance in the expansion valve and
it will also speed up rusty of the metal parts. The presence of impurities like
small foreign particles and also metal dusts can easily jam the solenoid and
expansion valve. The filter drier will play an important role in preventing ice
plug and dirty blockage appearance.
The accumulator prevents liquid
or any unevaporated refrigerant from
reaching the compressor suction which
may not have boiled off in the evaporator
thus preventing liquid slugging. It uses an
inverted trap to do so. At the same time it
can also trap the oil entertained in the
system. It consists of a small orifice which
is located on the underside of the inverted
trap which separates the oil. A Venturi

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A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

Effect occurs and any trapped oil is sucked through the orifice and carried
away by the suction vapors to be returned to the compressor sump where it
belongs. As in Fig. 2.4.
Sight glass
It is a window through which the condition of the system can be
known, as follows 1) the quantity of refrigerant, 2) the condition of filter drier,
3) the level of refrigerant and 4) moisture ingress in the system. We will study
this briefly in Chapter 7 Troubleshooting.
Line Solenoid Valve
The Solenoid valve is provided in the liquid line before evaporator, if the
temperature of the refrigerated space falls below its desired value the valve will
close and vice versa. It is required only in the system in which there is more
than one evaporator.
Main Solenoid valve
The Main solenoid valve is provided in some large marine refrigeration
system in addition to the line solenoid valve. It is situated after the receiver and
its purpose is to shut off in case the compressor stops due to any reason other
than its safety cut outs. By doing so, it stops the refrigerant flooding in the
evaporator, thus preventing liquid refrigerant from coming in the suction.
Thermostatic expansion valve
The thermostatic expansion valve regulates the flow of refrigerant
through the evaporator, thus maintaining the desired room temperature. It
plays a major role in the system by doing so. It is also called TXV or metering
device. We will see about this in a detailed manner in Chapter V.
Back pressure valve
The back pressure valve or evaporator pressure regulating valve is
located in the outlet line of the evaporator. This valve will be used only in the
system where only one compressor is used for several refrigerated room. It will
be available only in the room, which is to be maintained at high humidity. Back
pressure valve will be detailed in Chapter VI.

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A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

Super heating
The Super heating is a process which takes place in the evaporator. The
refrigerant is boiler off and converted into vapour at its boiling point in the evaporator. Any further increase in temperature above the saturation temperature
or boiling point is termed as superheating of the refrigerant.
It is measured as the difference between the refrigerant boiling
temperature in the evaporator and the temperature at the outlet of the
The refrigerant is little superheated to ensure no liquid is entering the
suction of compressor. But at the same time more superheating of refrigerant
should not be done because the cooling medium in the condenser will not be
able to extract the heat completely, which will affect the system performance.
Sub cooling
The sub cooling of refrigerant is a process which takes place in the
condenser of the system. In the condenser, the vapour refrigerant rejects its
latent heat to the cooling medium and changes its state to liquid at its
condensing temperature. Any further cooling below this condensing
temperature is termed as sub cooling of refrigerant.
It is measured as the difference between the condensing temperature of
refrigerant in the condenser and the temperature at the outlet of the
The condenser in the system is so designed to cool the refrigerant little
below its condensing temperature, to make sure that the refrigerant is fully
converted into liquid and all the latent heat is given up.
Charging of refrigerant
The charging of refrigerant is the term used for adding the refrigerant
gas in the system. Before charging the gas one should purge the system with
refrigerant to ensure all the air in system has been removed.
The refrigerant is charged from a bottle of refrigerant to the system
through a refrigerant valve or a charging valve.
The system should never be overcharged. At least 5% of space in the
receiver should be left for expansion. The system is normally charged with 85%
of the receiver.

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A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

Chapter - III
Properties of Refrigerants
The properties of refrigerant play a major role in the selection of
refrigerant for the system. The properties that a refrigerant should have are,
1. The boiling point should be low.
The boiling point should be low to ensure that the refrigerant is
boiled off and becomes vapour in the outlet of the evaporator and the
suction line of the compressor.
2. The condensing pressure should be low.
The condensing pressure is the pressure corresponding to the
condensing temperature of the refrigerant. The condensing pressure
should be low, so that the refrigerant vapour in the inlet of the condenser
should be able give away its latent heat and condense into liquid.
3. Critical temperature should be high.
The critical temperature is the temperature above which a gas
cannot be liquefied, regardless of the pressure applied.
The liquid refrigerant is converted into vapour in the evaporator
and comes to the suction of the compressor. Now the compressor
further compress it and raises its pressure and hence temperature. If
the critical temperature is low, the temperature corresponding to the
discharge pressure of the compressor may rise above the critical
temperature and the refrigerant can never be liquefied thereafter. To
ensure that the discharge pressure of compressor does not rise above
the critical temperature, the refrigerant having critical temperature high
is preferred.
4. The latent heat of vaporization should be high.
The latent heat of vaporization is the change of phase of any
matter from liquid to gas.

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A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

The latent heat of vaporization should be high so that, the

evaporator absorbs maximum heat from the refrigerated room for boiling
the refrigerant and changing its form to vapour, thus reducing the room
temperature to its desired valve quickly.
5. Specific heat of liquid should be low.
The specific heat of liquid is the amount of heat per unit mass
required to raise the temperature by one degree Celsius. It should be low, so
that amount of heat per unit mass required to raise the temperature of
refrigerant is also low.
The amount of heat absorbed by the refrigerant in the evaporator
should be capable of raising the refrigerant temperature to its boiling point and
change its state.
6. It should be non-toxic.
The refrigerant should be non-toxic, so that it does not harm the
personnels in case of any leakage in the system or while charging.
7. It should not be flammable and explosive.
The refrigerant should be non-flammable and non-explosive, to
prevent fire hazards onboard.
If it is flammable and explosive it will act as fuel in fire, the
availability of air and heat in the engine room is more. And the required
components of fire triangle for fire to break out will be formed.
8. It should have satisfactory heat transfer co-efficient.
The heat transfer co-efficient is used in calculating the heat
transfer, typically by convection or phase change between a fluid and a
It must have a satisfactory heat transfer co-efficient for proper
phase change from liquid to vapour or vice versa.

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A Book On Provision Cooling Plants Onboard ships.

Chapter IV
Vapour Compression Cycle