Design of Ammonia Refrigeration Systems for Peak Performance and Efficiency

Upcoming dates (3)

Sep. 16-20, 2024

Madison, WI

Course Overview

As a refrigerant, ammonia has been in widespread use in the industrial sector for more than a century. With no ozone depletion potential and no global warming potential, it is environmentally friendly as well as an efficient choice for refrigeration. In this course, you will learn how to take advantage of ammonia’s desirable properties to design your refrigeration systems for peak performance. You will also learn from the experts about safety precautions and the latest research from the IRC that you can immediately apply on your next refrigeration system specification or design.

Who Should Attend?

  • Design/build contractors 
  • Owners, plant operators, supervisors, engineers, and designers who want to better specify systems 
  • Project managers responsible for ammonia system design and construction 
  • Consulting engineers

Additional Information

This course is part of the Process Safety Management Professional Certificate. Increase your knowledge and effectiveness at managing PSM/RMP programs for your ammonia refrigerated facility, while earning a recognized credential. Course can be taken individually as well.

Attendees participating in this course will be able to earn a digital badge as evidence of the knowledge they obtained during the course. Digital badges are micro-credentials that can be earned by successfully passing a final quiz administered online after completing the course. Find more information on digital badges.

Course Outline

Day 1

Welcome and Introduction

Design Considerations for Energy Efficiency

  • Review of systems: single-stage, DX, flooded, overfed, and multi-stage systems
  • Energy efficiency considerations for industrial refrigeration systems

Load Calculations and Psychrometrics

  • Temperature requirements
  • Load types: envelope, product, internal, equipment, infiltration
  • Psychrometrics review
  • Sensible and latent loads
  • Infiltration loads: theory vs. real-world
  • Rules-of-thumb

Load Calculation Workshop Load Calculation Workshop (continues) Evaporators

  • Types
  • Performance characteristics
  • Manufacturer's rating methods
  • Selection process
  • Energy efficiency considerations
  • Variable speed drive fans

Assign Homework – Class Design Project

  • Preliminary refrigeration system layouts
  • Load calculations
  • Evaporator selection/layout

Adjourn to Work on Class Project

Day 2

Homework Review Valves and Valve Selection

  • Valve types and uses
  • Actuating methods (direct-acting, pilot-operated)
  • Installation considerations
  • Typical valve groups
  • Safety considerations
  • Energy efficiency considerations


  • Performance characteristics
  • Sizing considerations
  • Selection
  • Fan alternatives and methods of control
  • Energy efficiency considerations

Condenser Selection Workshop

  • Types: high-pressure receiver, thermosiphon, low-pressure accumulator, flash intercooler
  • Configurations: horizontal or vertical
  • Ratings
  • Proper practices for system integration
  • Knock-out velocity
  • Down-comer sizing
  • Refrigerant level control (floats, capacitance probes)

Vessel Sizing/Selection Workshop

Assign Homework

  • Evaporator valve selection and valve train layout

Adjourn to Work on Class Project

Day 3

Homework Review Liquid Refrigerant Pumps

  • Pump types and performance curves
  • Net positive suction head: required and available
  • Pump selection
  • Energy efficiency considerations


  • Compressor ratings
  • Full-load and part-load operation
  • Oil cooler heat rejection methods (screw compressors)
  • Volume ratio (fixed and variable)
  • High stage and booster selection
  • Energy efficiency considerations

Compressors (continued)

Class Design Project Assign Homework

  • Select compressors
  • Select condensers

Adjourn to Work on Class Design Project

Day 4

Homework Review Refrigerant Piping

  • Sizing vapor lines (suction, discharge, hot gas)
  • Liquid line sizing
  • Wet return line sizing
  • Piping practices to minimize potential for hydraulic hammer
  • Riser pipe sizing practices
  • Energy efficiency considerations

Refrigerant Piping Workshop Heat Recovery Opportunities

  • Assessing the potential for heat recovery in ammonia systems
  • Heat recovery options Design Project

Assign Homework

  • Class design project

Adjourn to Work on Class Design Project

Day 5

Homework Review

Finalize Design Project

Design Project Presentations

Question/Answer Session


"I got a great overview and exposure to the details. I will definitely be a smarter customer for both design services and equipment supply. Also, got some energy tips I'll be looking at."

"All was excellent, from the knowledge and skills of the speakers to the facility."

"I got an extremely well-rounded education on refrigeration systems and associated engineering."

"I have a completely new perspective on design. The course really cleared up a lot of things in my systems and how they operate."

"Great course for designers, owners, consultants—anyone around the engine room or plant in general."

"Very helpful for trouble-shooting and problem solving on current systems."


Todd Jekel

Todd Jekel, PhD, PE is the assistant director of the Industrial Refrigeration Consortium at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Jekel has been actively conducting research on refrigeration systems including vessel design practices, oil separators, and analysis of dehumidification alternatives for cold storage warehouses. He holds degrees from Calvin College and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Douglas Reindl

Douglas Reindl, PhD, PE is a professor at the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a Program Director at the Office of Interdisciplinary Professional Programs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has extensive experience in mechanical systems – including industrial ammonia refrigeration systems. As the founding director of the Industrial Refrigeration Consortium, he works extensively to improve the safety, efficiency, reliability, and productivity of ammonia refrigeration infrastructure. Dr. Reindl received his BS in mechanical engineering technology from the Milwaukee School of Engineering, MS in mechanical engineering from UW–Madison, and PhD in mechanical engineering from UW–Madison. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Wisconsin.

Marc Claas

Marc Claas is an Associate Researcher with the Industrial Refrigeration Consortium and has been involved in industrial refrigeration since 2009. His interests include refrigeration system maintenance requirements, criteria for safe system operation, troubleshooting systems for safe and efficient operation, regulatory compliance in refrigeration systems, and emerging cooling technologies. His teaching experience includes online operator training programs, and his field experience includes PSM related activities such as PSM audits and PHAs. He also has experience investigating energy efficiency and other operational opportunities. Claas holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from UW-Platteville and Master’s of Mechanical Engineering in Thermal Science from UW-Madison. He is an active member of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration.

Bent Wiencke

Bent Wiencke has 35 years of experience in the industrial refrigeration industry specializing in the design, optimization, operation, and installation of refrigeration systems. Throughout his international career he has worked for contractors, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and end-users. His broad work experience includes the food and beverage industry, marine industry, petrochemical and chemical industry using a wide range of refrigerants, such as: Ammonia, CO2, Hydro-Carbons, CFCs, HCFCs and HFCs. Bent is a longtime International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) member and has been an active participant in the work of the IIAR Research Committee. In addition, he was a two-term member of the IIAR Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016. Throughout the years he contributed to the industry with numerous papers as well as championed numerous research and safety topics. In 2008 he won the "Andy Ammonia Award" for best paper. He has a MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering.

Upcoming dates (3)

Program Director

Douglas Reindl

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