Ammonia as refrigerant for the first time at a Russian athletic facility

Bobsled Sochi

The final project agreement was signed in November of 2011 between the Moscow sales organization of GEA and the customer, NPO Mostovik, of Omsk, one of the largest Russian construction companies. The contract included project engineering of the complete refrigeration facilities, delivery and installation of the refrigeration equipment, construction of the machine room, as well as a total of 4 km of main ammonia piping along the bobsled track. This project represents the first time that a Russian sports facility is equipped with an ammonia-based refrigeration plant. 

The heart of the refrigeration plant is four screw-compressor units from the GEA Large Series – three type WB-5A and one PB-5A model – as they are used, for example, in the food and beverage industry. They offer cooling duty of a total of 4.2 MW, with outstanding efficiency. Use of ammonia as natural refrigerant plays a key role here.

The required cooling duty can be transported with less volume of refrigeration and, in turn, in thinner pipes. A gas scrubber was installed to minimize the health risk in case of any leak in the machine room. This unit would filter any escaping ammonia out of the air and would drastically reduce the gas concentration. Rigorous pressure trials and other tests were conducted before turnover, to eliminate the chance of leaks from the very beginning.

Special permission for the first ammonia refrigeration facility

The use of ammonia in such a plant is a novelty for Russia, since strict safety regulations there have until now forbid ammonia as refrigerant for athletic facilities. The GEA project team, however, was able to convince the responsible authority of the advantages of this natural refrigerant over its synthetic competitors – with the results that special permission was granted for this project. For this long bobsled track – which is alone served by 4 km of supply piping along the track – the great evaporation enthalpy and the above-average volumetric cold duty provided make positive contributions indeed.