The IIAR’s updated ammonia safety standard, along with several of its other standards, is becoming a reference for other code and standards bodies.
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In November 2015, the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) released an updated version of its IIAR-2 operational and safety standard for ammonia refrigeration.
Under the revision, the 33-year-old IIAR-2 standard, for the first time, addresses ammonia equipment outside the machine room such as low-charge ammonia packaged systems, as well as explicitly covering ammonia/CO<sub>2</sub>systems.
It hasn’t taken long for other code and standards bodies to notice the updated IIAR-2 standard as well as other IIAR standards, and start incorporating them into their latest codes, said Jeffrey Shapiro, president of the International Code Consultants and a long-time IIAR code consultant, at the IIAR<strong>’</strong>s Natural Refrigeration Conference & Heavy Equipment Expo, held in San Antonio, Texas February 28-March 1.
Another significant development is that ASHRAE-15 in January approved taking ammonia out of ASHRAE-15 in the next edition. “That was approved by the technical committee and will be out for public review,” said Shapiro, asking for IIAR members’ support for the change.
“It’s a huge step in the right direction for the ASHRAE technical committee to recognize the value of IIAR-2 as a stand-alone standard,” he said.
<strong>Concerns about A2Ls</strong>
One of the key developments in the refrigeration industry is the emergence of A2L refrigerants, typically HFO blends that are classified by ASHRAE has having low flammability.
ASHRAE is currently processing two amendments regarding A2Ls, an addendum D for air conditioning and an addendum H for industrial and commercial refrigeration systems.
ASHRAE is “moving to expand A2Ls,” and the UMC and the International Fire Code plan to include them in 2018 editions, while UL is developing standards to accommodate A2L equipment, Shapiro said.
But Shapiro, who has a degree in fire protection engineering, took a highly critical view of A2Ls.
“This is a huge issue for the entire refrigeration industry right now,” he said. “Should we allow flammable refrigerants to be piped throughout buildings for refrigeration systems and air conditioning? The real concern is fire risk.” He added: “The rush to market can be consequential in a negative way.”
Ammonia, classified as a B2 refrigerant (low flammability and toxic above 400 ppm) has the advantage of emitting a pungent odor that serves as an alert, while A2Ls don’t have that characteristic, he said. “You’re going to smell the ammonia but you’re not going to know the ASLs are there. We’re putting all of our eggs in the leak detection basket.
“I think ammonia is highly overlooked in these environments because relatively speaking I’d rather know there's a problem than rely on a detector’s algorithm,” he said.
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