Moving toward safe ammonia usage in China

By Jan Dusek, Aug 05, 2014, 15:08 2 minute reading

In April 2014 the Chinese State Administration of Work Safety launched an initiative to improve workplace safety in those companies using ammonia as a refrigerant, requiring all companies that do not meet current safety standards to comply with regulations by the end of November this year. As a result, provincial governments have begun tightening controls to ensure the companies concerned take corrective action. These steps will pave the way towards safer use of ammonia refrigeration in China, v

There are more than 30,000 companies in China using ammonia as a refrigerant. Given that ammonia is as a low cost refrigerant with excellent thermodynamic properties and a high refrigeration efficiency, its use in the rapidly growing Chinese cold storage industry is only set to increase.

Following the ammonia leakage incidents in Shanghai and Jilin in 2013, the government and the public have called for better ammonia refrigeration system safety in China. As a result, the Chinese State Administration of Work Safety is reinforcing controls on ammonia usage. To ensure stricter and more frequent checks of ammonia refrigeration plants, provincial governments in China are taking action.

Provincial governments act to enforce ammonia safety standards

In Qingdao, the city hosted a “Production Safety Conference”, to report on the current status of the 974 companies using ammonia refrigeration systems, with the following results:
  • 78% of them will have to implement changes to comply with safety standards
  • 375 will have to be shut down
  • 213 of them will be switched to other refrigerants
  • 222 of them have ceased operations until the necessary changes to comply with ammonia safety standards are completed

Provincial government cooperation yields results, and improved ammonia safety record

From January to June 2014, the accidents and death rates caused by ammonia’s use as a refrigerant has decreased by 66.7%. In the North Ward region of Qingdao, the Administration of Work Safety is cooperating with 14 other state departments such as the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the State Administrations for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) to enforce compliance with ammonia safety standards.

In Fujian province, the Quality and Technology Supervision Bureau in Fuqing city has published guidelines on safe ammonia refrigeration procedures, in cooperation with the Administration of Work Safety and local fire department, to raise awareness and share information and best practice to improve safety. In Changle city in Fujian, the city official and the Administration of Work Safety and the Quality and Technology Supervision Bureau hosted a meeting regarding ammonia safety and infringement procedures for those companies not complying with required ammonia refrigeration system safety standards attended by 38 companies.

In Jiangsu Suzhou, of the 2,746 companies using ammonia refrigeration systems, as many as 93% will have to makes changes in order to comply with safety standards. In Shandong Jining city of the 1,028 companies using ammonia, 91 of them have been shut down due to non-compliance.

Increasing ammonia use requires improvements in system safety

According to S&P Consulting’s “2014-2017 China Ammonia Refrigeration Equipment Market Analysis and Research Report”, there is a rapid growth in refrigeration demand, which is being accompanied by increasing concerns regarding environmental protection. This will undoubtedly result in an increase in the use of ammonia. Danfoss pointed out that to meet this growth whilst not compromising worker safety, China needs to invest in technology and learn experiences from abroad to develop core technology and competitiveness, and ultimately develop a green and sustainable economy.


By Jan Dusek

Aug 05, 2014, 15:08

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