Tackling climate change is a massive challenge. Synthetic refrigerants such as fluorocarbon gases (F-Gases) - including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) - are a significant factor contributing to global warming with CFCs and HCFCs being the most damaging. To help reduce greenhouse gas emissions synthetic refrigerants in commercial refrigeration need to be replaced, particularly by large consumers of energy in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical sectors. GEA is at the forefront of technology solutions designed around natural refrigerants to help meet environmental targets for phasing out F-Gases.

With polar ice caps and glaciers melting, rising sea levels and entire coastlines under threat due to global warming, natural refrigerants offer minimal environmental impact. Hydrocarbon, ammonia and CO2 refrigerants are the most energy-efficient and cost-saving solutions to their synthetic counterparts. Our Heating & Refrigeration Technologies division is helping companies switch to natural refrigerants to meet the stricter cooling gas regulations to cut greenhouse emissions (Kyoto Protocol) and protect the ozone layer (Montreal Protocol) by discontinuing the use of F-Gases. 

Climate friendly low charge refrigerants bringing low-cost chilling capacity

Ammonia is the go-to natural refrigerant, easily and quickly replacing those that are being restricted or phased out. Most cooling systems using greenhouse gases can be converted to natural refrigerants that are environmentally-friendly and have no impact on global warming (GWP) or ozone depletion (ODP). Why invest in synthetic refrigerants which could be short-lived when there are natural refrigerant-based systems that will last for decades?

Proven refrigeration and heating technology can be tailored to provide innovative solutions using ammonia that are sufficiently robust to fit any application, whether it’s for cooling beer in a brewery or for the pasteurization process in a dairy. Ammonia is the most cost effective and efficient option for all types of industrial equipment and is already used as a refrigerant in all fields of industrial refrigeration.

Why make ammonia your first-choice natural refrigerant – installations are growing up to 24 percent


Ammonia could be described as a back to the future gas. It’s nothing new and has been around for a very long time, but is at the same time is a very modern solution. Low charge ammonia is the positive and modern term for low-pressure technology with very low total cost of ownership, which has evolved to meet the demands of the 21st Century for sustainable alternatives to other refrigerants. Ultimately ammonia lowers carbon emissions while offering high-performance, energy efficient and sustainable cooling and heating solutions.

Traditional ammonia installations are considered a ‘no brainer’ in key regions such as Europe, the Far East and the United States as more food manufacturers, distribution centers and retailers with refrigeration systems join the trend. Latest figures for low charge ammonia installations in 2021 have seen growth in Europe of 11 percent, US 13 percent and Japan 24 percent on the previous year (source ATMO Report).

Safety is a key factor for GEA

GEA has had the know-how for ammonia for more than one hundred years. Some potential end users might have concerns about using ammonia-based refrigerants but those fears are completely unfounded as experienced refrigeration companies have expert knowledge to install all necessary safety and ventilation equipment in accordance with local rules. Moreover, fully qualified and trained service teams will ensure that all equipment is maintained to the highest standards  

It is safe to use on any land installations from factories to district heating, and aboard vessels at sea as many valued customers in the marine industry will testify. The fact is that our marine customers have been using ammonia for years. GEA has delivered multiple projects featuring solutions using natural refrigerants for freezing, preserving and storing seafood on board fishing vessels.

Ammonia’s versatility in multiple temperature ranges is unlocking opportunities beyond its traditional markets. It performs better than other refrigerants as it provides the same cooling with lower power consumption and system costs.

Why is ammonia growing in popularity as a refrigerant?

Let’s ask two of GEA’s experts to put in a nutshell why ammonia is the best solution for industrial refrigeration and why businesses should be looking to ammonia as an effective natural replacement for synthetic refrigerants.

David Blankley, Director Management for Advanced Refrigeration, GEA Heating & Refrigeration Technologies says: “Ammonia is ideal for many different applications as it’s a very versatile refrigerant for every range of temperature levels. It is proven so we’re not reinventing the wheel. Over recent years we have witnessed far reaching bans on chemical substances that damage our environment. Only with a natural refrigerant can customers really truly feel secure about the future.

“GEA has a vast experience and knowledge in developing and installing highly-efficient natural refrigerant-based cooling & heating systems globally. If you’re choosing sustainable solutions, it makes complete sense to choose a sustainable refrigerant to match!”

Patrick Ackens, Senior Vice-President Sales, adds: “Ammonia is a very efficient refrigerant and therefore it is sustainable because you use less energy than with other systems. The gas is a natural product which we see in the environment – and it’s one of the cheapest refrigerants overall.

“It’s not man-made– it already exists in nature and it’s ozone and climate friendly with zero global warming potential. As a future-proof natural refrigerant, ammonia also has a long lifespan so it is a great investment compared to other refrigerants that you may have to reinvest in after 10 years, in order to update or change to another one. If you invest in ammonia, your investment is safe for the next 30 to 40 years or even more.”

Ammonia the best bet for meeting environmental obligations

GEA has supplied and installed ammonia-based refrigeration & heating equipment and solutions for a variety of industries such as food, marine and pharmaceuticals. We deliver energy-efficient systems that offer up to double-digit percent better performance than other synthetic refrigerants, which also results in a significantly lower energy bill - one of the highest cost drivers for an operating system.

All manner of organizations have nothing to lose and everything to gain from adopting advanced natural refrigeration technologies. Ammonia is not only cheap and safe, it is also the best choice to further reduce running costs and emissions. Ultimately GEA can help any business reach its sustainability targets as part of its mission “Engineering for a better world.”

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