Ammonia

Ammonia is one of the most produced chemicals in the world.

It is a chemical reaction of Nitrogen N, and Hydrogen H with the denotation NH3. It is a colourless and poisonous gas with a very distinct smell known from ammonium hydroxide, which is created by diluting ammonia in water.

Facts about ammonia

  • Chemical denotation: NH3
  • Density at 20 ̊C: 0.61

  • Freezing point: -78 ̊C

  • Boiling point: -33 ̊C

  • Ignition temperature: 650 ̊C

  • Explosion limit: 15% -28% vol.

Ammonia is used for production of many things that most of us use in our everyday life, for instance cleaning products, medicine, cosmetics, packaging and yeast. It is further used in the production of fertiliser, as liquid fertiliser and as coolant in for instance air conditioning systems.


Safety

Ammonia should be handled with utmost respect. When handling ammonia, you should always wear protective clothing, safety gloves and safety goggles, as well as respiratory protection and have access to eye rinsing solution on site. If handling ammonia outside, you should be aware of the wind direction in order to escape any potential leak. A leak is quite easy to detect due to the distinct smell, which can be smelled long before the concentration is hazardous to inhale. 

The National Safety Council in USA has set the following concentration for the physical effects of ammonia (1 ppm = 1:1000000, which is 0.00071 grams of ammonia per square metre air):

  • ​​20 ppm: First noticeable smell
  • ​40 ppm: Some people may experience eye irritation
  • ​100 ppm: Clear eye and nose irritation after few minutes of exposure
  • ​400 ppm: Severe irritation of the throat, nose and respiratory system
  • ​700 ppm: Severe eye irritation. No permanent disablement if exposure is less than 30 minutes
  • ​1700 ppm: Critical coughing – bronchial cramp – exposure less than 30 minutes can be lethal
  • ​5000 ppm: The concentration is lethal almost immediately

The hygienic limit value (HGH) is 20 ppm, corresponding to the concentration that the time weighted average of concentration should not exceed during a work day.

Pressure and density

When ammonia is subject to pressure or reaches very low temperatures, it turns into a clear liquid. When liquid ammonia is leaking, large quantities of ammonia gas are derived - 1 litre of liquid ammonia is derived into approx. 800 litres of ammonia gas. The pressure of the ammonia depends on the temperature:

  • -5 ̊C: Pressure is 2,6 bar
  • 5 ̊C: Pressure is 4,3 bar
  • 15 ̊C Pressure is 6,4 bar
  • 25 ̊C Pressure is 9,2 bar

The density of ammonia is also affected by temperature:

  • -5 ̊C: Density is 0,645
  • 5 ̊C: Density is 0,632
  • 15 ̊C Density is 0,618
  • 25 ̊C Density is 0,603

The colder it is, the more ammonia will be in the tank.​

Fire hazard

Ammonia/air mixtures are flammable, when they contain between 15% and 28% vol. ammonia gas (150,000-280,000 ppm). In extreme cases, the mixture will explode within these limits. However, ammonia is difficult to ignite in practice.

Ammonia gas, formed upon discharge from a tank, encompasses the risk of development of flammable concentrations.

Smoking and open flames forbidden when handling ammonia!

​A severely boiling ammonia lake can burst into flames if ignited. However, such a fire will eventually end with the boiling. An ammonia lake, cooled down and resting due to heavy evaporation, will not desorb ammonia gas in quantities that can uphold an ammonia fire. A cold lake of liquid ammonia does therefore not encompass the risk of fire. Fire caused by i.e. leaking oil or gasoline is much more serious. Ignited ammonia generates water and nitrogen, and 79% of the atmospheric air is nitrogen.

Results from tests trying deliberately to ignite ammonia gas and liquid outside with a gas flame, where it is difficult to ignite ammonia, show that the fire will normally go out immediately after removing the gas flame. It is difficult to ”maintain” a flammable composition. Please note that these conditions will change if adding oil or gasoline. This means that it is difficult to make ammonia burn outside - however, exposure in closed rooms with explosive concentrations and a source of ignition may have fatal consequences. ​

Need help?

​Call Klaus Møller at +45 60 10 79 11 or send us an email on the form below. We will return as soon as possible.

 
 
 
 
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About

Based on several years of experience, we have specialised within a number of fields, which today represent independent business units.

For customers within e. g. industry and agriculture, we offer heavy haulage transportation, crane work, boat transportation, NH3 transportation and production of NH3 water - also referred to as ammonium hydroxide - and we further offer equipment rental.

Contact

GIVE SVÆRGODS Transport A/S

CVR: 31886120

Hjortsvangen 26, 7323 Give

Phone.: +45 76 70 15 00