Companies want more and more less volume of refrigerant in their installations. That is why they often opt for indirect systems. Generation and distribution of heat and cold are separated from each other. For example, this trend ensures that Propane Chillers are gaining more attention.
The thermodynamic properties of the propane refrigerant are quite favourable. The GWP value is 3. In many cases a high COP can be achieved with propane units. On the other hand, however, Propane is a flammable refrigerant. So, caution is advised. You must ensure that the refrigerant does not ignite if leakage occurs.
To overcome this, manufacturers place the cooling system in a separate housing. The space with the refrigeration section is then equipped with a gas detection system. The Chiller unit can be ventilated in case of leakage by means of a fan. Gas and air are then blown out. In addition, system content and refrigerant quantity are limited (for example by using an aluminium microchannel condenser). The smallest possible system content reduces the fire risk.
The phasing down of refrigerants is in full swing. For this reason, customers are afraid that they will soon run out of refrigerant. That is why they move away from HFCs and, for example, switch to Propane Chillers in combination with water as a means of transport. It mainly affects larger companies and larger systems.
But Propane is also suitable for the somewhat smaller systems of, for example, ten kilowatts. It is mainly companies that want to lead the way, such as supermarkets and government institutions, that want to invest in this. They opt for a water-based system with Propane or CO₂. This is an environmentally friendly solution, because there are no restrictions with the refrigerant charge (if installed outside and above the ground floor). After all, all the refrigerant is contained in the Chiller. And cooling takes place simply by transporting the chilled water (or another cooling medium) to the users. The major advantage of this is the relatively simple nature of the piping and the system design, compared to installations with other natural refrigerants, such as CO₂ or Ammonia.
In addition to the good thermodynamic properties, propane also has the advantage that installers can work well with it. They can treat the system as they were used to with an R22 system at the time. This is different for a CO₂ unit, for example, where you must deal with different pressures and very high pressures. This can make installation more complex and dangerous (for example with two compressors).
Another great advantage with waterborne systems is that very precise temperature control is possible. We find applications in sectors such as fruit and vegetables, flower bulbs and floriculture. Cooling these products requires very precise and stable temperature control in order to extend the shelf life of the product. The use of cold-water systems is also increasingly embraced in process industries, utilities or other types of storage of goods. After all, installations with large quantities of chemical refrigerants no longer want to be used in the refrigeration business. Propane units can make an interesting contribution within the cold chain in various applications and applicable areas.