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Ammonia Safety Review

Topics covered by this document


Our intention when compiling this document was to cover the following topics:

Review of plant design


Review of measures to be taken to avoid ammonia leakage and to minimise the
consequences of a leakage
Review of measures to be taken at the event of an ammonia release

A topic that will, however, be covered in a later issue is how to design for safe emergency exits.
This presentation is based on the publication EN 378:2000. Note, however, that only clauses
relevant to ammonia plants have been dealt with here. It has not been our intention to cover
all the contents of EN 378:2000 we wish only to point out the main clauses that have an
impact on the above topics. Together with other norms and codes of good practice, in-house
knowledge etc, the contents of this document will hopefully cover the topics mentioned above.

A few words about EN 378:2000


Designation: Refrigerating systems and heat pumps - Safety and environmental requirements.
Quoted from the foreword:
This European standard shall be given the status of a national standard, either by publication of
an identical text or by endorsement, at the latest by December 2000, and conflicting national
standards shall be withdrawn at the latest by December 2000.
According to the CEN/CENELEC Internal Regulations, the national standards organizations of
the following countries are bound to implement this European Standard: Austria, Belgium,
Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy,
Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United
Kingdom.

Contents
EN 378 is divided into four parts :
Part 1 Basic requirements, definitions, classification and selection criteria
Part 2 Design, construction, testing, marking and documentation
Part 3 Installation site and personal protection
Part 4 Operation, maintenance, repair and recovery

The limitations of this document


As mentioned above our intention with this document is not to supersede EN 378. When
designing a plant according to the EN 378 standard you have to consult the standard itself. It is
particularly important to note that Part 2 of that standard is hardly touched upon at all here. It
goes without saying that the ammonia system must be designed and constructed according to all
relevant norms and standards, and certain subjects are therefore not covered at all by this
document:

Pressure vessels and pressure limiting devices


Materials used
Piping with respect to stress
Marking

Review method
The best method of reviewing an installation with the aim of having a safe ammonia plant is to
check the actual installation and compare it to the main demands, the hints, the comments etc. in
this document.
This review must be performed throughout the project, at all stages of the project - from
pre-design to operation and maintenance of the plant.

Index
The headings of Chapter 4 of the standard EN 378-1:2000 (Basic Requirements) have been used
as an index for this document.
Chapter 4 will be quoted on the following pages. Details for (nearly) all the headings will be
given after that. These details contain:

Relevant parts of EN 378


Other standards or codes of good practice
Comments and hints

Table of contents
Ammonia Safety Review................................................................................................................. 1
Topics covered by this document .................................................................................................... 2
A few words about EN 378:2000 .................................................................................................... 2
Contents ....................................................................................................................................... 2
The limitations of this document ..................................................................................................... 3
Review method ................................................................................................................................ 3
Index ................................................................................................................................................ 3
Table of contents ......................................................................................................................... 4
4 Basic requirements ................................................................................................................... 6
4.1 General................................................................................................................................... 7
4.1.1 Refrigerating systems....................................................................................................... 8
4.1.2 Refrigerants...................................................................................................................... 9
4.1.3 Discharge of refrigerants................................................................................................ 10
4.1.4 Selection of refrigerants................................................................................................. 11
4.2 Design, construction, materials ........................................................................................... 12
4.2.1 Components under pressure........................................................................................... 13
4.2.2 Protection against excessive pressure ............................................................................ 14
4.2.2 Protection against excessive pressure ............................................................................ 14
4.2.3 Indicating and measuring instruments (monitoring)...................................................... 15
4.2.4 Safeguarding against unauthorized actuation ................................................................ 16
4.2.5 Refrigerant charge.......................................................................................................... 17
4.2.6 Loss of refrigerant.......................................................................................................... 18
4.2.7 Liquid slugging in compressors ..................................................................................... 19
4.2.8 Liquid hammer in systems ............................................................................................. 20
4.2.9 Moving parts of machinery............................................................................................ 21
4.2.10 Noise ............................................................................................................................ 22
4.2.11 Vibration ...................................................................................................................... 23
4.2.12 Contact with foodstuffs................................................................................................ 24
4.2.13 Energy consumption .................................................................................................... 25
4.3 Installation, commissioning................................................................................................. 26
4.3.1 Installation in relation to occupancies............................................................................ 27
4.3.2 Special machinery rooms............................................................................................... 32
4.3.3 Cold rooms..................................................................................................................... 39
4.3.4 Discharge of refrigerant ................................................................................................. 40
4.3.5 Protection devices, piping and fittings........................................................................... 41
4.3.6 Electrical installation ..................................................................................................... 42
4.3.7 Flammable refrigerants .................................................................................................. 43
4.3.8 Fire extinguishing equipment ........................................................................................ 44
4.4 Testing, marking.................................................................................................................. 45
4.4.1 Tests (in respect to safety and environmental protection) ............................................. 46
4.4.2 Marking.......................................................................................................................... 48
4.5 Operation, maintenance, repair, personal protective equipment ......................................... 49
4.5.1 Operational instructions ................................................................................................. 50
4.5.2 Maintenance, repair........................................................................................................ 51
4.5.3 Personal protective equipment....................................................................................... 52
4

4.6 Competence ......................................................................................................................... 53


4.6.1 Training and knowledge ................................................................................................ 54
4.6.2 Competence in different tasks........................................................................................ 55
4.7 Recovery, reuse, disposal .................................................................................................... 57

4 Basic requirements

4.1 General

4.1.1 Refrigerating systems


Refrigerating systems shall be designed, constructed, installed, operated, maintained and
disposed of according to this European Standard.
Comments
Under the heading A few words about EN 378:2000 at the beginning of this document there is a
list of countries that are bound to implement this standard.

4.1.2 Refrigerants
Where refrigerants of different groups are used in a refrigerating system the requirements of each
individual group shall apply.
Quoted from other EN 378 clauses
EN 378-1 Clause 5.4.2.3. Safety groups

Comments
Ammonia belongs to the simplified group L2. Only rules for this refrigerant are dealt with in
this document.

4.1.3 Discharge of refrigerants


Deliberate discharge of environmentally harmful refrigerants shall be avoided.
Comments
Ammonia is not considered to be an environmentally harmful refrigerant. Ammonia has zero
direct ODP and GWP, and, due to good energy efficiency, also a good TEWI- value.
A high concentration of ammonia can, however, have a negative effect on the nearby
environment, such as vegetation and living organisms in the sea.
When maintaining one part of a system the ammonia charge should either be transferred to
another part, or to a temporary storage, for example by using the method demonstrated below.

System part to empty

Temporary storage

Small amounts of ammonia can be released to the atmosphere under controlled forms.

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4.1.4 Selection of refrigerants


When selecting a refrigerant the potential influence on global warming and the depletion of
ozone in the stratosphere shall be taken into account.
NOTE 1 A way of assessing global warming is using the concept of total equivalent
warming impact (TEWI) that combines the direct contribution of refrigerant emissions
into the atmosphere with the indirect contribution of the carbon dioxide emissions
resulting from the energy required to operate the refrigerating system over its operational
life, also see informative annex B.
NOTE 2: Emitted refrigerant can have global impact due to:

global warming potential (GWP);

ozone depletion potential (ODP).

Comments
This document refers to ammonia. However, the total equivalent warming impact (TEWI) is
usually low for ammonia compared to other refrigerants. Ammonia has zero direct ODP and
GWP, and due to good energy efficiency also a good TEWI-value.

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4.2 Design, construction, materials

Comments
As mentioned above our intention with this document is not to supersede EN 378. When
designing a plant according to the EN 378 standard, the standard itself has to be consulted. Note
particularly that very little of Part 2 of that standard has been covered here. It goes without saying
that the ammonia system must be designed and constructed according to relevant norms and
standards, and some subjects are therefore not dealt with at all here, like for example:

Pressure vessels and pressure limiting devices


Materials used
Piping with respect to stress
Marking

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4.2.1 Components under pressure


All parts of the refrigerant circuit shall be designed and manufactured to remain leakproof and
withstand the pressure which may occur during operation, standstill and transportation taking into
account the thermal, physical and chemical stresses to be expected.

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4.2.2 Protection against excessive pressure


In refrigerating systems the pressure during normal operation, standstill and transportation shall
not exceed the maximum allowable pressure of any component. Excessive internal pressure from
foreseeable causes shall be prevented or relieved with minimum practicable risk for persons,
property and the environment, and if a pressure relief device is discharging, the pressure on any
component shall not exceed the allowable pressure by more than 10 %.

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4.2.3 Indicating and measuring instruments (monitoring)


Refrigerating systems shall be equipped with the indicating and measuring instruments necessary
for testing, operating and servicing as specified in this European standard.

Comments
Regarding ammonia detectors, please see clause 4.3.2 Special machine rooms.

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4.2.4 Safeguarding against unauthorized actuation


Control and safety devices, which should not be operated by unauthorized persons, shall be
safeguarded against deliberate or accidental actuation.

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4.2.5 Refrigerant charge


Refrigerating systems shall be designed with due care for their local and global environment in
such a way that each refrigerant charge is kept as small as reasonably practicable in a system
which is as tight as reasonably practicable.

Comments
Direct ammonia systems often have excessive charges. One way of reducing the risk for a heavy
release is to build the system in sections with automatic, alarm controlled isolating valves in
between.
The old Swedish code of good practice demanded automatic valves when the system charge
exceeded 500 kg.
Indirect systems have much smaller charges, and the entire system can often be placed in a
special machine room. The drawback with an indirect system can sometimes be the higher energy
consumption. See also clause 4.2.13.

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4.2.6 Loss of refrigerant


Refrigerating systems shall be so equipped with devices necessary for testing, servicing, recovery
of refrigerant and so constructed that even in the case of fire or leakage the loss or refrigerant is
minimized.

Comments

See the previous clause about automatic isolating valves.

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4.2.7 Liquid slugging in compressors


Refrigerating systems shall be so designed and installed that liquid refrigerant or oil cannot return
in excessive quantity to damage the compressor(s).

Comments
Ammonia plants are mainly built as flooded systems, either with a pump or with gravity
circulation. Provided the dimensioning of the surge drum has been correctly performed, the risk
for liquid overflow is usually very low.
For dry expansion systems a knock-out drum is recommended. A knock-out drum is, however,
not required for chillers with good expansion valve control and a limited charge.

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4.2.8 Liquid hammer in systems


Piping in refrigerating systems shall be so designed and installed that liquid hammer (hydraulic
shock) cannot damage the system.
Quoted from other EN 378 clauses
EN 378-2:2000. Clause 6.3.2
6.3.2 Liquid hammer in systems
Piping in refrigerating systems shall be so designed and installed that liquid hammer (hydraulic
shock) cannot damage the system.
NOTE: Liquid hammer due to a sudden deceleration of liquid refrigerants in piping with
subsequent shock wave can be prevented by e.g.:
a) Mounting the solenoid valve as close as possible to the expansion valve.
b) Mounting the solenoid valve in hot gas piping as close as possible to the evaporator.
c) Prefilling the piping through a by-pass line to the solenoid valve.
d) Installing a slower operating valve.
Comments
For hot gas defrosting of ammonia evaporators in pump circulation systems, top feed of hot gas is
considered to be safer than bottom feed.
Note that if an air cooler is pumped down during off periods, and a solenoid valve positioned
upstream a bend opens, the liquid hitting the bend can in fact cause pipe raptures.

Proble

Liqui
Gas
.

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4.2.9 Moving parts of machinery


Moving parts of machinery shall be guarded according to EN 292-1, EN 292-2 and EN 294.

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4.2.10 Noise
Compressors, fans, valves, equipment and ducts of refrigerating systems shall be so designed and
constructed that risks resulting from the emission of airborne noise are reduced to the lowest
practical level taking account of technical progress and the availability of means of reducing
noise in particular at source.

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4.2.11 Vibration
Compressors, fans, valves, equipment and ducts of refrigerating systems shall be so designed and
constructed that risks resulting from vibration produced by the parts of the system are reduced to
the lowest practical level taking account of technical progress and the availability of means of
reducing vibration in particular at source.

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4.2.12 Contact with foodstuffs


Parts of refrigerating systems which are in contact or are intended to come into contact with
foodstuffs (food or beverages) shall be designed and constructed from suitable materials, the
surfaces of which can be cleaned before each use.

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4.2.13 Energy consumption


Refrigerating systems shall be so designed and constructed that under the foreseeable operating
conditions the energy consumption is kept as low as reasonably practicable.

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4.3 Installation, commissioning

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4.3.1 Installation in relation to occupancies


Refrigerants and refrigerating systems shall be selected, installed and utilized with regard to the
categories of occupancy and operated so that persons are not endangered. If national regulations
do not exist, informative annex C should be used.
Quoted from other EN 378 clauses
EN 378-1. Clause 5.3.1 General
Considerations of safety in refrigerating systems takes into account the site, the number of people
occupying the site and the categories of occupancy.
The occupancies are classified into three categories given in table 2, which refer to all those areas
where an installation would affect safety.

Comments
Ammonia (group L2) installations will mainly be found within occupancy category C (industrial
installations). However, the use of ammonia increases steadily also in plants under category A
(hotels, supermarkets) and category B (office buildings). In these categories ammonia is mainly
used in indirect closed systems.
The content of informative annex C, as per above, for group L2, is quoted on the following
pages. But first the general paragraph, applicable to all three categories, is quoted:
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Quoted from other EN 378 clauses


EN 378-1. Annex C
C2 Maximum charge of refrigerant
C.2.2 Group L2 refrigerants
C2.2.1 General
In general, group L2 refrigerants shall not be permitted in direct, indirect open or indirect vented
open systems for air conditioning or heating for human comfort, if people are restricted in their
movement.
Comments:
In practice this means that all comfort cooling systems are designed as indirect closed systems.

Quoted from other EN 378 clauses


EN 378-1
5.2 Classification of refrigerating systems
5.2.1 Direct system
The evaporator or condenser of the refrigerating system is in direct communication with the
substance to be cooled or heated.
5.2.2.4 Indirect closed system
The evaporator cools or the condenser heats the heat-transfer medium which passes through a
closed circuit in direct communication with the substance to be treated.
Comments
EN 378 also defines four other systems. When it comes to classification of occupancies for
ammonia, the demands for these systems are actually the same as those for direct and indirect
closed systems (see the table below):

Direct system

Indirect closed system

Indirect open system


Indirect vented open system

Indirect vented closed system


Double indirect system

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Quoted from other EN 378 clauses


EN 378-1. Annex C
C.2.2 2 Occupancy category A

C.2.2.2.1 A refrigerating system located in a human occupied space which is not a special
machinery room or with the high pressure side (except air cooled condensers) located in a special
machinery room or in the open air shall be a sealed system and for compression systems the
refrigerant charge shall not exceed the amount derived from the practical limits given in the
informative annex E and the volume of the space. For sealed sorption systems the refrigerant
charge shall not exceed 2,5 kg.

C.2.2.2.2 A refrigerating system with all refrigerant containing parts located in a special
machinery room or in the open air shall meet the following requirements:
a) for direct, indirect open and indirect vented open systems the refrigerant charge of a
refrigerating system shall not exceed 2,5 kg;
b) for indirect closed, indirect vented closed and double indirect systems which do not have a
direct communication to rooms of category A and which have an exit into the open air there is no
restriction of the refrigerant charge.
C.2.2 .3 Occupancy category B
C.2.2.3.1 For a refrigerating system located in a human occupied space which is not a special
machinery room the refrigerant charge shall not exceed 10,0 kg.
C.2.2.3.2 A refrigerating system with the high pressure side (except air cooled condensers)
located in a special machinery room or in the open air shall meet the following requirements:
a) for direct, indirect open and indirect vented open systems the refrigerant charge shall not
exceed 25 kg;
b) for indirect closed, indirect vented closed and double indirect systems there is no
restriction of refrigerant charge.
C.2.2.3.3 For a refrigerating system with all refrigerant containing parts located in a special
machinery room or in the open air there is no restriction of refrigerant charge provided the special
machinery room has no direct communication to a human occupied space.

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C.2.2.4 Occupancy category C


C.2.2.4.1 A refrigerating system located in a human occupied space which is not a special
machinery room shall meet the following requirements:
a) where the density of personnel is lower than 1 person per 10 m2 and provided there are a
sufficient number of clearly indicated emergency exits for the number of persons normally
present the refrigerant charge shall not exceed 50 kg;
b) where the density of personnel is not restricted apart from the restrictions imposed by
building regulations the refrigerant charge shall not exceed 10,0 kg.
C.2.2.4.2 A refrigerating system with the high pressure side (except air cooled condensers)
located in a special machinery room or in the open air shall meet the following requirements:
a) for direct, indirect open and indirect vented open systems there is no restriction of
refrigerant charge provided the refrigerating system does not extend to rooms where the
density of personnel is greater than 1 person per 10 m2 and there are clearly indicated
emergency exits;
b) for indirect closed, indirect vented closed and double indirect systems there is no
restriction of refrigerant charge.
C.2.2.4.3 For a refrigerating system with all refrigerant containing parts located in a special
machinery room or in the open air there is no restriction of refrigerant charge.
Comments
For the capacity intervals and refrigerant charges that York Refrigeration is working with, the
following applies:
Occupancy A and B Usually only indirect systems are used here.
Occupancy C

Direct systems without any charge limitations can be used, however on the
following conditions:

Limited number of persons ( 1 per 10 sq. m)


Clearly indicated emergency exits.

If there are any doubts whatsoever that these conditions can be fulfilled,
propose an indirect closed system to be on the safe side.
For normal chilled rooms or cold stores, the number of people is usually
below the set limit. For production areas the personnel load can be higher.
For a cutting hall in a meat processing plant, for example, an average of
1.7 persons per 10 sq. m. in the hall is not unusual.
A schematic representation of the three occupancy groups and what applies to them will be found
on the next three pages:
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Special machinery room

Occupancy category A

Sealed system. Max charge 0.35 g


per m3 volume of the space

Condens

Sealed system. Max charge 0.35 g


per m3 volume of the space

No charge limit, provided

No direct communication,and

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Exit into the open

Special machinery room

Occupancy category B

Max charge 10 kg

Condens

Max charge 25 kg

No limits in refrigerant
charge

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Special machinery room

Occupancy category C

More than 1 person per 10 m2:


Max charge 10 kg
Less than 1 person per 10 m2:
Max charge 50 kg

Condens

Less than 1 person per 10 m2:


No charge limits, provided
there are clearly indicated
emergency exits.

No charge limits

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4.3.2 Special machinery rooms


In some cases special machinery rooms shall be provided for accommodating parts of
refrigerating systems, especially those of the high pressure side, and the compressors, for reasons
of safety
NOTE. Housings kept tight and vented may also serve as special machinery rooms.

Quoted from other EN 378 clauses


EN 378-3:2000. Clause 5
5 Design and construction of special machinery rooms
5.1 General
In some cases special machinery rooms shall be provided for accommodating parts of
refrigerating systems, especially those of the high pressure side, and the compressors, for reasons
of safety.
NOTE. Housing kept tight and vented may also serve as special machinery rooms.
The following principles apply to special machinery rooms:
a) special machinery rooms shall serve for accommodating refrigerating equipment but
need not serve exclusively for this equipment;
b) refrigerant gas escaping from special machinery rooms shall be prevented from
entering neighbouring rooms, staircases, courts, gangways or building draining
systems and the escaping gas shall be vented without risk;
c) it shall be possible to leave the special machinery room immediately in case of
danger;
d) the air supply for combustion engines, boilers or air compressors shall be drawn from
a place, where there is no refrigerant gas. If such equipment is installed in a special
machinery room, the air shall be supplied from outside the room;
e) there shall be no open flame-producing equipment permanently installed and
operated. Flammable materials, other than refrigerants, shall not be stored in the
special machinery room;
f)

a remote switch for stopping the refrigerating system shall be provided outside and
near the special machinery room door;

g) natural or mechanical ventilation shall be provided. Mechanical ventilation shall be


provided with independent emergency control located outside the machinery room
and near the machinery room door;
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h) exterior openings shall not be under emergency exit staircases;


i)

all piping and ducting passing through walls, ceilings and floors of special machinery
rooms shall be tightly sealed;

j)

portable fire extinguishers shall be provided in each special machinery room in an


adequate number appropriate to the size and type of the system and the type of
refrigerant, heattransfer medium and insulation. For systems using flammable
refrigerants fire extinguishers shall also be provided in the proximity of the entries of
cold rooms and to working spaces in which refrigerating equipment is located.

5.2 Warning notice


Special machinery rooms shall be clearly marked as such on the entries together with warning
notices that unauthorized persons shall not enter and that smoking, naked lights or flames are
prohibited. Additionally, warning notices shall be displayed prohibiting unauthorized operation
of the system.
5.3 Dimensions and accessibility
The dimensions of the special machinery room shall allow the installation of equipment in
favourable conditions, leaving sufficient room for service, maintenance, operation and
disassembly. If a housing serves as a special machinery room, the access for service and
maintenance can be achieved by dismantling parts of the housing or by special doors.
If necessary, catwalks and fixed ladders shall be provided for the erection, operation,
maintenance and inspection of the system in order to avoid standing or walking on piping,
fittings, their supports and supporting structures and on components. There shall be clear
headroom of at least 2 m below equipment situated over gangways and permanent work places.
5.4 Doors and walls
5.4.1 Doors and openings

Special machinery rooms shall have doors opening outwards and adequate in number to
ensure freedom for persons to escape in an emergency.

The doors shall be so designed that they can be opened from inside (anti-panic system).

The doors shall be self-closing if they provide access into the building.

The doors shall have at least a 30 min fire resistive construction.

There shall be no openings that permit unintended passage of escaping refrigerant,


vapours, odours and all other gases to other parts of the building.

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5.4.2 Inner walls


All partitions (horizontal or vertical) between the special machinery room and the inside of the
building shall have at least a 1 h fire resistive construction and be tightly sealed.
The doors in these partitions shall have at least a 1 h fire resistive construction (at least 30 min
for doors in an entry air lock, etc.) and be tightly fitting and self-closing.
5.5 Ventilation
5.5.1 General
Special machinery rooms shall be ventilated by means of natural ventilation through windows,
grilles, vent holes, or by mechanical ventilation to the outside of the building such as not to cause
inconvenience or danger to persons or goods. The ventilation shall be sufficient both for normal
operating conditions and emergencies. The required capacity shall be determined by 5.5.2 or
5.5.3.
Provisions shall be made for a sufficient supply of outside replacement air and a good
distribution of that air over the special machinery room without blind angles. Openings for
outside air shall be positioned to avoid short circuiting.
NOTE: Ducts may be required for ventilation.
Refrigerants may be heavier or lighter than air. For heavier than air refrigerants, at least 50 % of
the discharge volume is taken from the lowest point in the special machinery room and the
outside air inlet shall be near the highest point. For lighter than air refrigerants, the discharge
volume shall be taken from the highest point and the outside air inlet shall be near the
lowest point.
In special machinery rooms with an entirely or partly underground construction or other special
machinery rooms where natural ventilation is not possible, e.g. on ships and in mines, mechanical
ventilation shall operate when personnel are present. When no personnel are present, emergency
ventilation shall be automatically controlled by a refrigerant detector.

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5.5.2 Natural ventilation


The total free opening area for the natural ventilation of the special machinery room shall be at
least
A= 0.14 * m 2/3
where:
A

is the free opening area, in square metres;

m
is the mass of refrigerant charge, in kilogrammes, in the refrigerating system with
the largest charge, any part of which is located in the special machinery room;
0,14 is the relationship between area and mass, in square metres divided by the root of
kilogrammes.
5.5.3 Mechanical ventilation
Mechanical ventilation shall be by fans capable of removing from the special machinery room at
least
V=14 * m2/3
where:
V

is the flow, in litres per second;

m
is the mass of refrigerant charge, in kilogrammes, in the refrigerating system with
the largest charge, any part of which is located in the special machinery room;
14

is a conversion factor.

The ventilation system shall not be required to produce more than 15 air changes per hour.
It shall be possible to switch the fans on and off both in and outside the special machinery room.
In the case of special machinery rooms completely or partly installed underground the operating
switch outside the special machinery room shall be located on the ground floor.
Fan motors which are likely to operate in spaces with risk for flammable gas/air mixtures shall be
placed outside the air stream or comply with the requirements for hazardous areas (explosion
proof). The construction and materials of the fans shall not contribute to fire or sparking.

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5.6 Special machinery rooms for group L2 refrigerants


5.6.1 Emergency exits
At least one emergency exit shall open directly to the open air, otherwise it shall lead to an
emergency exit passageway.
The doors in this emergency exit passageway shall be such that they can be opened manually
from inside the machinery room (anti-panic system).
5.6.2 Absorption of ammonia
5.6.2.1 Water supply
Due to the high absorption capacity of ammonia gases in water, a water supply for manual
spraying or a water screen in each special machinery room shall be considered according to
circumstances. The water supply connection shall be such that no contaminated water can flow
back into the main.
Comments
Never spray water on to liquid ammonia. The energy supplied by the water will cause the
ammonia to boil off, and this will increase the amount of ammonia gas spread in the
surroundings.
5.6.2.2 Contaminated water
If a water supply is installed, measures shall be taken to ensure that the contaminated water is
collected in appropriate vessels and disposed of safely.
EN 378-3:2000. Clause 7.5
7.5 Ammonia detectors to warn against the danger of explosion or fire and for control
purposes
An ammonia detector required in accordance with 6.2.5 shall function at a concentration not
exceeding:

380 mg/m3 (500 ppm (V/V)) in machinery rooms (low alarm level);

22 800 mg/m3 (30 000 ppm (VN)) (high alarm level).

At the low alarm level, an alarm and the mechanical ventilation shall be activated. At the high
alarm level, the refrigerating system shall automatically be stopped.

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4.3.3 Cold rooms


Cold rooms shall be equipped or so constructed that trapped persons can escape. If national
regulations do not exist, informative annex D should be used.
Parts of Annex D is quoted below
D.1 General
In order to minimize the hazard for people who get locked in cold rooms, sometimes along with
strong currents of air, measures as described in the following clauses shall be taken. Care shall be
taken to ensure that no personnel are locked in cold rooms at the end of the working day
D.2 Operation of doors and emergency exit doors
It shall be possible to leave a cold room at all times. Therefore it shall be possible to open doors
both from the inside and the outside.
D.3 Emergency switch or signal
According to the operating conditions, the following devices shall be provided in cold rooms
with a volume of more than 10 m3'
a) an alarm switch operated by illuminated push buttons near the floor or by chains hanging
near the floor, installed in a suitable place in the cold room, the operation of which
initiates an audible signal and a sight signal, in a place where the permanent presence of a
person is guaranteed. It shall not be possible to stop this signal except by means of a
specific operation;
b) signal devices connected to an electric circuit with a voltage of at least 12 V Batteries for
this purpose shall have an operating time of at least 10 h and be connected to a mains
supplied automatic charging device. If a transformer is used, it shall be supplied with
current from a different circuit to the one used for other equipment in the cold room.
Furthermore, the device shall be of such design that it does not cease to function due to
corrosion, frost or the formation of ice on contact surfaces;
c) a light switch in the cold room in parallel with light switches located outside this room so
that the lighting turned on by means of the inside switch cannot be turned off by means of
the outside switch;
d) a plug switch or other systems giving the same result for the fans located in the cold room
in series with the switches located on the outside so that the fans turned off by means of
the inside switch cannot be turned on by means of the outside switch;
e) light switches shall have permanently illuminated buttons;
f) in the event of failure of the lighting, the routes towards the emergency exit (and/or alarm
switch) shall be indicated by independent lighting or by other approved means;
g) a permanent emergency lighting system.
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4.3.4 Discharge of refrigerant


Discharge of refrigerant into the atmosphere shall be minimized. Discharges of refrigerant that
cannot be avoided shall take place so that persons are not endangered.
Quoted from other EN 378 clauses
EN 378-2:2000. Clause 7
7.4.7 Discharge piping from pressure relief devices
7.4.7.1 General
Discharge from pressure relief devices and fusible plugs shall take place so that persons and
property are not endangered by the released refrigerant.
NOTE: The refrigerant can be diffused into the air by adequate means but away from any
air intake to the building or discharged into an adequate quantity of a suitable absorbing
substance.

Comments
On this CD you will find a document with the heading Absorbers for ammonia release where
the absorption of ammonia from discharge lines is discussed. Note, however, that this is just a
preliminary version of the document and that later on this document will be completed with
instructions on how to take care of ammonia release in machine rooms by using scrubbers.

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4.3.5 Protection devices, piping and fittings


Protection devices, piping and fittings shall be protected as far as possible against adverse
climatic effects and the accumulation of dirt or debris.

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4.3.6 Electrical installation


The design, construction, installation, testing and use of electrical equipment shall be in
accordance with the appropriate European standards, e.g. EN 60204-1, EN 60335-1, prEN
60335-2-241997, EN 60335-2-34, EN 60335-2-40.
Quoted from other EN 378 clauses
EN 378-3:2000. Clause 6.2
6.2.4 Ammonia (R-717) in rooms with electrical equipment
Electrical equipment in rooms in which a refrigerating system containing ammonia is located
need not conform to requirements for hazardous areas.
6.2.5 Ammonia (R-717) in special machinery rooms
6.2.5.1 General
Special machinery rooms in which a refrigerating system containing ammonia with a charge of
more than 10 kg is located, shall comply with 6.2.5.2 and 6.2.5.3.
6.2.5.2 Electrical switches
Switches shall be provided to disconnect all electrical circuits entering the room (except low
voltage alarm circuits). These switches shall be of the totally enclosed type or shall be located
outside the special machinery room.
Automatic switches shall be activated to disconnect their circuits by ammonia detectors.
6.2.5.3 Ventilation
The special machinery room shall be provided with a mechanical ventilation system used
exclusively for the special machinery room. The minimum air moving capacity of the system
shall be in accordance with 5.5.3. This ventilation system shall be activated by an ammonia
detector. The fan motor and associated electrical equipment shall be of the explosion proof type
or shall be located outside the special machinery room and the ventilation air stream.
Failure of the mechanical ventilation system shall initiate a supervised alarm so corrective action
can be taken.

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4.3.7 Flammable refrigerants


Rooms which contain any part of a refrigerating system with a flammable refrigerant, except
ammonia or up to a limited quantity of another flammable refrigerant, shall comply with the
requirements for a "potentially explosive atmosphere"
Comments
Note that ammonia is not considered flammable in this context. Observe, however, the previous
clause about ammonia in rooms with electrical equipment.

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4.3.8 Fire extinguishing equipment


Fire extinguishing equipment shall be readily available and appropriate, in particular, to the size
of the refrigerating system, the refrigerant, the heat-transfer medium, the insulation and the
conditions of the site.
Quoted from other EN 378 clauses
EN 378-3:2000. Clause 5.1
5.1 General
The following principles apply to special machinery rooms:
Portable fire extinguishers shall be provided in each special machinery room in an adequate
number appropriate to the size and type of the system and the type of refrigerant, heat-transfer
medium and insulation. For systems using flammable refrigerants fire extinguishers shall also be
provided in the proximity of the entries of cold rooms and to working spaces in which
refrigerating equipment is located.
Comments
It is advisable to discuss with the fire and rescue services the appropriate number of
extinguishers, and where these should be positioned. Discuss also other related matters, like for
example the emergency exits.

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4.4 Testing, marking

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4.4.1 Tests (in respect to safety and environmental protection)


4.4.1.1 Before putting into service any refrigerating system, all the components or the whole
refrigerating system shall undergo the following tests:
a) strength pressure test;
b) leakage test;
c) functional test of safety devices;
d) test of the complete installation before putting it into operation.
4.4.1.2 Relevant safety accessories shall be tested regularly
4.4.1.3 The results of the tests shall be recorded.
Quoted from other EN 378 clauses
EN 378-2:2000. Clause 9.5.6
9.5.6 Visual inspection of the complete installation
Visual inspection of the complete installation shall be carried out in accordance with normative
annex A and normative annex B.
Annex A (normative)
Check list for external visual inspection of the installation
This check list covers the following items:
a) check for transit or storage damage to the equipment;
b) compare the complete installation with the refrigerating and electrical system drawings;
c) check that all components are as specified in the drawings;
d) check that all safety documents and equipment required by this European standard are
present;
e) check that all devices and arrangements for safety and environmental protection are
present and in compliance with this European standard;
f) check that pressure vessel documents, certificates, identification plates, log-book,
instruction manual and documentation required in this European standard are present;
g) check the escape and access routes for free passage;
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h) check ventilation of special machinery room;


i) check refrigerant detectors;
j) check that volume of receivers is sufficient;
k) check instructions and directions to prevent deliberate discharge of environmental
harmful refrigerants to the environment.
Annex B (normative)
Check list for external visual inspection
This check list covers the following items:
a) compare the complete installation with the refrigerating and electrical system drawings;
check whether electrical supply is adequate for the power to be drawn;
b) check documentation relating to pressure vessels if vessels are changed, modified or used
for another refrigerant;
c) check vibrations and movements caused by temperature and pressure;
d) check installation of fittings;
e) check supports and fixing (materials, routing, connection);
f) check quality of welding and other joints;
g) check protection against mechanical damage;
h) check protection against heat;
i) check protection of moving parts;
j) check accessibility for maintenance or repair and for inspection of piping;
k) check valve arrangement;
l) check quality of thermal insulation and vapour barriers.
m) check fouling of heat exchange surfaces.

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4.4.2 Marking
4.4.2.1 Every refrigerating system and its main components shall be identifiable by marking. This
marking shall always be visible.
4.4.2.2 Shut-off devices and main control devices shall be suitably marked if it is not obvious
what they control.

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4.5 Operation, maintenance, repair, personal protective equipment

Comments

One of our largest food industries suggests the following checkpoints to be performed regularly
in order to minimize risks for leakage:

Piping visual control

Refrigerant system leakage control

Refrigerant system vibration control

Refrigerant system corrosion control

Refrigerant system filling control

Oil leakage control

Safety equipment control

Jointing/Tightening, follow-up draft

Safety valve control/replace

Discharge of oil

Tightening of refrigerant leakage

Discharge of refrigerant

Refilling of refrigerant

Clause 4.4.1 includes check lists to be used before an installation is put into operation. The
majority of the checkpoints in these lists could very well be used for the regular inspection to be
performed during the operation of the installation.

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4.5.1 Operational instructions


4.5.1.1 For refrigerating systems operational instructions shall be prepared giving directions for
the operation and servicing of the system, including precautions to be observed in case of
breakdown or leakage.
4.5.1.2 The manufacturer or installer shall supply instruction manuals or leaflets and shall also
provide safety instructions written in one of the languages of the country in which the
refrigerating system is to be used.
For refrigerating systems which are used for transport purposes in several countries, such
instructions shall be in an appropriate official language and may be repeated in one or more other
languages.

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4.5.2 Maintenance, repair


4.5.2.1 Refrigerating systems shall be maintained and repaired only by competent persons (see
4.6).
4.5.2.2 Personnel in charge shall have knowledge and experience of the mode of functioning, use
and day to day monitoring of the whole refrigerating system.

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4.5.3 Personal protective equipment


Personal protective equipment appropriate to the quantity and type of refrigerant shall be readily
available.

Quoted from other EN 378 clauses


EN 378-3:2000. Clause 9.2
9.2 Personal protective equipment
Personal protective equipment as follows shall be provided for use by every person doing
maintenance, repair and recovery:
a) for all refrigerants and irrespective of the properties of the refrigerant:
protective gloves and protection for eyes;
b) for group L2 refrigerants:
a filter protection respirator (full face mask) or a self-contained breathing apparatus.
NOTE: A filter protection respirator should always be used (with filter insert designed to afford
protection from decomposition products) for refrigerating systems containing group L1
refrigerant when welding or brazing is carried out in the presence of refrigerant.

Comments
York can offer a selection of protective equipment suitable for people working with or in the
vicinity of ammonia installations.
More information is available on this CD (go to Personal safety equipment, Basic and Advanced
level)

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4.6 Competence

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4.6.1 Training and knowledge


Persons, who are responsible for design, construction, installation, inspection, testing operation,
maintenance, repair, disposal and assessment of refrigerating systems and their parts shall have
the necessary training and knowledge for their task to achieve competence.
Comments
On this CD you will find a document with the heading If a leak should occur.
It is good practice to inform and train an appropriate number of people on how to proceed in case
there is an ammonia leakage on the premises and, in doing that, this document will be a great
help to you.

If a leak should occur

Leakage:
- What to do in the event of a leakage
- Consequences
- How to minimize the risks of a leakage
ever occurring

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4.6.2 Competence in different tasks


Competence in each task shall be required for health, safety, environmental protection and energy
conservation purposes.
Quoted from other EN 378 clauses
EN 378-3:2000. Annex C
First aid when refrigerant R-717 (ammonia) is used - Immediate actions
If the victim is unconscious

Immediately send for a physician and an ambulance equipped with a respirator.

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive and if it is safe to do so the victim should be
taken into a ventilated room or outside the building. The victim should be laid on his or
her side.

Inform the physician about the refrigerant the victim was exposed to, preferably by a label
attached to the victim.

Loosen clothing covering the chest and neck to make breathing easier.

If necessary, apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

If clothing is contaminated by ammonia, place the victim in an emergency body shower


(with plenty of water) and rinse for at least 20 min. Remove any contaminated clothing.

Ensure that persons who have inhaled large quantities of gaseous R-717 are treated with
oxygen as quickly as possible by a competent person. Moreover keep them as quiet as
possible.

Water or other liquids should never be administered by mouth except on medical advice.

Splashes to the eyes

Never rub the eyes.

Remove contact lenses, if worn.

Keep the eyelid up and rinse with large quantities of water for at least 20 min.

Then take the victim immediately to a specialized physician (oculist) or to a casualty


hospital.

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Contamination of the skin

Rinse the affected parts with large quantities of running water for at least 20 min,
meanwhile remove clothing as the running water is applied.

Never cover the affected parts with clothes, bandages, oil etc.

Take the victim to a physician or a casualty hospital as quickly as possible after rinsing.

Swallowing liquid

Make the victim, when conscious, drink as much water or warm beverage as possible.

Inform the physician, the hospital and the "Anti-Poison Centre".

Comments
Leaks of ammonia do not occur in machine rooms only. Leaks can also occur in production areas
and in other areas containing parts of an ammonia system.
We advise you to regularly train and inform a group of persons normally occupying such areas so
that these are well acquainted with what might happen and can take the appropriate actions.

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4.7 Recovery, reuse, disposal


All parts of refrigerating systems, e.g. refrigerant, oil, heat-transfer medium, filter, drier,
insulating material, shall be recovered, reused and/or disposed of properly in connection with
maintenance, repair and scrapp

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