Introduction to Industrial Refrigeration

Learn some basics about the industrial refrigeration industry. What is the purpose of the machinery and what is it made of?

Common Applications

Full-featured, high-end industrial refrigeration is intrinsic to the success of any business operating in the food industry. Refrigeration is used around the world for a variety of purposes, from keeping fish fresh on offshore trawlers to ensuring bananas ripen in suburban warehouses. For example, dairy products must be refrigerated at all times.

Air conditioning systems are installed in most commercial, industrial, and retail buildings. This is one of the most common uses of refrigeration and is used to cool hot air.

In manufacturing, refrigeration is absolutely necessary in many cases. For example, it is used to liquefy gases such as methane, oxygen, and nitrogen. You'll also find precision refrigeration equipment in refineries and chemical plants.

Types of refrigerants

The most commonly used refrigerant is anhydrous ammonia, also known as NH3, R-717, or simply ammonia. It is the cheapest of the lot, which mainly contributes to its widespread use. The chemistry also has other advantages, such as its excellent heat transfer and latent heat properties. Unlike some of its equivalents, ammonia is biodegradable and does not harm the ozone layer.

Propane and propylene are commonly found in refineries or large chemical plants. As gases, they have the disadvantage of being highly flammable, so these refrigerants cannot be used in environments where fires and explosions can occur.

Carbon dioxide is a green refrigerant because it is simply a gas recovered from the atmosphere. It is mainly used in situations where extremely low temperatures are required.

There are other types of refrigerants as well. Its use depends on the specific situation and requirements.

Refrigeration System Components

The heart of the system is the compressor, sometimes called a steam pump, which pumps the refrigerant, reducing and increasing the pressure. There are several types such as rotary screw compressors, piston compressors, and diaphragm compressors.

The evaporator plays an equally important role. It absorbs heat, allows the heat to evaporate the refrigerant into a vapor, and allows the heat to supercharge the remaining vapor.

A condenser is required to block sensible and latent heat from entering the system.


A refrigerant metering device restricts the free flow of refrigerant, ensuring that only a safe and controlled amount is allowed through the liquid line at any given time.