Town of Sylvan Lake approves purchase of ammonia transfer system

The Ammonia Transfer System will help to prevent a situation like the one in Fernie, says Town staff

The Town of Sylvan Lake has agreed to purchase a SMART – Ammonia Transfer System for the NexSource Centre.

The purchase of this system will reduce the risk of ammonia being ventilated into the air in the event of a leak, according to Sean Durkin, recreation manager with the Town.

In 2019, the Town explored the possibility of creating an Ammonia Air Vent System at the NexSource Centre, it was decided that was not the best option.

“The only option for the vents was at the back of the NexSource Centre which would vent the ammonia straight to the Advance Ambulatory Care Centre,” Durkin said.

Early in 2019, CIMCO Refrigeration hosted an information session at the NexSource Centre on the SMART – Ammonia Transfer System, which was a new patent pending at the time.

According to Durkin, the system is an ammonia pump out system that will remove liquid and vapour ammonia from the compressor system if a maintenance leak or emergency occurs.

The NexSource Centre uses 2,000 pounds of ammonia in its compressor system.

Should an emergency occur, and the ammonia gets into the air the entire town would have to be evacuated.

“The SMART Transfer will be designed specifically for the NexSource Centre taking into account the 2,000 pounds of ammonia that currently runs through our system. The unit would be placed within our compressor room with the storage vessel located outside of the NexSource Centre plant room,” Durkin said.

The system would take out the human decision-making process and rely on “pre-defined safety parameters” to detect leaks in the system.

Durkin gave the example of 500 parts per million of ammonia being the threshold, where the SMART – Ammonia Transfer System would automatically transfer the ammonia into holding containers.

“The system would then automatically transfer, hold and return the complete refrigerant charge as required, so there is no need for administration to enter potentially contaminated areas or risk exposure.”

Durkin added the system can also be utilized manually for maintenance purposes.

The total cost of initiating the project is $216,000 plus GST. The funds for the project are coming from the Recreation Administration Capital Reserve Fund and from funds previously allocated to creating a venting system.

In the summer of 2018, the City of Fernie, B.C. experienced a deadly ammonia leak, which killed three men. The leak came from the decision to operate an ice chilling system which was known to have a leak.

Durkin told Town Council the SMART – Ammonia Transfer System will help to prevent a situation like the one in Fernie.


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