Disadvantages of Absorption Refrigeration over Vapor Compression Refrigeration Cycle

1) Initial capital cost: Though the running cost of the absorption refrigeration system is much lesser than the vapor compression system, its initial capital cost is much higher. 2) Corrosive nature of lithium bromide: In the lithium bromide absorption refrigeration system, lithium bromide is corrosive in nature, which reduces the overall life of the system. In case of the ammonia system, ammonia is corrosive to copper. In the vapor compression system copper is used with the halocarbon refrigerants and they are quite safe thus ensuring long life of the refrigeration system. As such the vapor compression system with reciprocating or centrifugal compressor has longer life than the lithium bromide absorption refrigeration system. 3) Low working pressures: The working pressures of the absorption refrigeration cycle are very low. In case of the lithium bromide system these pressures are so low that even the expansion valve is not required since the drop in pressure of the refrigerant due to its flow is good enough to produce its expansion. Due to this the refrigeration system should be sealed thoroughly so that no atmospheric gases would enter the refrigeration system. As such the system of the compression refrigeration should also be packed tightly, but this is to prevent the leakage of the refrigerant to the atmosphere. 4) Coefficient of Performance (COP): The coefficient of performance of the absorption refrigeration systems is very low compared to the vapor compression systems. For instance, the COP of the two stage lithium bromide system is about 1.1, while that of the vapor compression system used for the air conditioning applications it is about 4 to 5. Thus the absorption refrigeration system becomes competitive only if the ratio of the electricity to fuel (oil, gas or coal used to generate the steam in the boiler) becomes more than four. If this ratio is lesser there are chances that excess fuel would be required to generate the steam. However, if there is excess steam in the industry, this ratio may not be given importance. 5) Higher heat rejection: In the absorption refrigeration heat has to be rejected from number of parts like condenser, absorber, analyzer, rectifier etc. thus heat rejection factor for absorption refrigeration system is high and it can be around 2.5. In the compression refrigeration system the heat is given up only from the condenser, so it heat rejection factor is small, which is about 1.2. Thus the cooling tower and pump capacities for pumping the cooling water have to be higher in case of the absorption refrigeration system, which leads to increase in the running cost of the system.

Book: Basic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning by P N Ananthanarayanan, Tata McGraw-Hill Publishing Company Limited

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