The single greatest safety risk in ammonia refrigeration operations stems from human error, according to Douglas T. Reindl, Ph.D., P.E. The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Engineering Professional Development offers a series of continuing education programs focused on ammonia refrigeration to address these risks and educate attendees on how to minimize them at their operation.

Reindl presided over a three-day "Introduction to Ammonia Refrigeration Systems" course in October. Attendees included maintenance, process, facilities and project engineers; safety specialists; technicians and independent consultants. Instructors included Reindl, James L. Denkmann, Denkmann Thermal Storage Ltd., Chicago, and Martin L. Timm, Praxair Inc., Burr Ridge, IL.

The seminar curriculum focused on improving safety, maximizing effectiveness and increasing profitability. Topics covered include safety, ammonia properties, refrigeration cycles, system components and system configuration options. Presented in a lecture format that also accommodated direct questions and answers, the October program allowed participants to discover potential design flaws in their existing systems, derive a means to improve safety and efficiency, and exchange ideas.

Attendees can continue their education by attending additional courses offered by UW-Madison. Other sessions include ammonia refrigeration system safety, design of ammonia refrigeration systems, intermediate ammonia refrigeration systems and ammonia refrigeration piping.

"Introduction to Ammonia Refrigeration Systems" will next be offered March 7-9, 2001. A full schedule of continuing education programs is available on the Internet at For additional program information, contact Reindl or program assistant Mary Danielson at (800) 462-0876 or e-mail


Evolution of Refrigeration Requirements Applications of industrial refrigeration include food processing, process cooling, cold storage warehousing and chemical processing. During the last decade, regulatory changes and evolution of equipment have placed stricter requirements on industrial cooling and refrigeration technology.

  • Montreal Protocol. This international agreement dictated a phase-out of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants by 1996 and established a phase-out schedule for hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) refrigerants.
  • Kyoto Protocol. This international agreement dictates that U.S.-based companies significantly reduce emission of greenhouse gases.
  • Process Safety Management (PSM). This occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) program imposes regulations on all facilities with threshold quantities of toxic substances, including systems using ammonia as a refrigerant.
  • Risk Management Planning (RMP). This Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) companion to the OSHA PSM regulations requires a forecasted, worst-case scenario plan in the event of a toxic substance release that effects areas surrounding a plant.