CASE STUDY: PN.3368.02.21

Australian Pharmaceutical Specialist Engages ASED Consulting International to Provide Detailed Design and Consulting Services for Ammonia Based Refrigeration & Heat Pump Systems

Client: Confidential
Sector: Pharmaceutical
Location: Brisbane, Australia
Site Type: Brownfield
Refrigeration System: Ammonia based (NH3 – R717) Chilled Glycol System
Process Heating System: Ammonia based (NH3 – R717) Heat Pump System
Configuration: Centralised Packages
Commissioned: 2022
Job Number: P.3368.02.21

process cooling heating recovery

Consulting Services Provided:

  1. Detailed Design & Documentation – Ammonia (NH3) Chilled Glycol System
  2. Detailed Design & Documentation – Ammonia (NH3) Heat Pump System
  3. Ammonia based (NH3 – R717) Chilled Glycol Plant Specification
  4. Ammonia based (NH3 – R717) Heat Pump Plant and Equipment Specification
  5. Plant and Process Control Specification
  6. Electrical & Controls Specification


ASED Consulting Engineers International was engaged to provide engineering and design specification services for a brownfield pharmaceutical facility located in Brisbane, Australia. The client has a 2025 target for decarbonisation and electrification of the site cooling and heating Systems.

The client was aware of the energy efficiency benefits of natural refrigerants and as such engaged ASED to provide a solution based on several parameters, mainly to replace existing refrigeration, process cooling and process heating infrastructure onsite. This also included the provision for the installation of new processing equipment, along with the cooling, heating, and dehumidification demand of the new processing lines.

One refrigeration system and two heat pump systems were modelled. The chilled glycol load would be serviced by ammonia to chilled glycol package and modelled as such. The heat pump duties were modelled with an ammonia refrigerant based heat pump and a CO2 refrigerant based heat pump, when the heat pumps were compared to each other with energy efficiency, capital expenditure and operational expenditure, the client chose ammonia to provide the heat pump duty.

Existing Equipment:

The existing facility was serviced by refrigeration and process chilling equipment which were based on high ozone depleting synthetic refrigerants, these included:

  • Medium temperature: Four compressor glycol chillers, based on R404A. (x4)
  • Medium temperature Three compressor glycol chillers, based on R22. (x6)
  • Medium temperature: Four compressor water chillers, based on R22. (x2)
  • Medium temperature: Three compressor water chillers, based on R404A. (x2)
  • High temperature: Packaged non-condensing gas hot water heaters. (x4)

The Process:

The existing refrigeration and associated equipment would need to be in service whilst the upgrades took place within the facility. ASED provided detailed process mapping documentation to ensure that downtime was minimised, and the commissioning works were completed in a streamlined manner.

The project management and process mapping resulted in a turnaround time of two days, including decommissioning of the old equipment, and commissioning of the new equipment.

The Requirements:

  • One ammonia to glycol chilled fluid system, designed with 100.0% redundancy.
  • One ammonia to water heat pump system, design with 100.0% redundancy.
  • Fluid pumping stations.
  • Fluid reticulation piping network design.
  • Two thermal energy storage (TES) systems,
  • One Propylene glycol thermal well,
  • One process hot water thermal well.

The pharmaceutical facility had several cooling and heating duties which required to be met. The refrigeration system was fully integrated to meet the facilities requirements with additional capacity for future process line loads.


ASED Consulting provided theoretical and practical training which covered:

  • Introduction to Ammonia vapour compression systems:
    • Primary system components.
    • High- and low-pressure sides.
    • Basic system operations.
  • Working safely with Ammonia refrigerant based systems:
    • Risk management.
    • Hazard and risk control measures.
    • Safe handling of ammonia and system oil.
  • System startup and shutdown procedures.
  • First startup.
  • Emergency procedures.
  • Testing and commissioning.
  • Reactive and proactive maintenance.

System Commissioning:

ASED Consulting assisted the client’s refrigeration service provider with full refrigeration, heat pump, connected loads, and control system commissioning, ensuring the highest level of total plant energy efficiency and operation. Ensuring the transition from harsh synthetic refrigerants to natural environmentally friendly refrigerant was streamlined.

Quick View – Refrigeration System and Heat Pump System Capacities:

Nominated Plant


  • Centralised Ammonia chilled glycol system.
  • Centralised Ammonia heated hot water heat pump system.

Chilled Glycol Duty:

  • Process cooling:            2200.0 kWR @ -10.00°C SST

Heating Duty:

  • Process heating:           1,400.00 kWH @ 68.0°C
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