Many of our customers migrated from industrial ammonia or brine refrigeration plants to the modular ice3 Cube System. One of the more persuasive reasons the ice3 systems are chosen, is simply the low cost of maintenance and near elimination of third party service vendors when operating the ice3 Cubes.
The initial commercial plants installed in ice arenas were simply air conditioning equipment stretched in engineered capacity to allow the system to perform as refrigeration equipment. Major manufacturers such as Carrier, York and Trane were used. The issue at hand was by operating equipment to an extreme, the plants only lasted 15-20 years and expensive compressor replacements were ultimately required.
The Old Standard: Cost of Maintenance with Ammonia
Ammonia is a fantastic refrigerant because of its heat transfer properties. It is natural compound with a 0 GWP. Even if we took the safety considerations off the table, Ammonia’s largest drawbacks are the cost of maintenance and the requirement of a specialty service contractor. Both the words “maintenance” and “service contractor” have been known to send rink managers running for the closets as they watch their budgets demolished.
Industrial compressors are similar to a Zippo lighter your grandfather used to carry. They are bullet proof and heavy. However they require regular and consistent maintenance. Fluids needed to be installed on an ongoing basis and at certain periods heavy maintenance is required, equivalent to the flint needed to be replaced in a zippo.
Anyone responsible with keeping an industrial compressor in working order will tell you it’s not a simple system. Oil needs to be drained on an ongoing basis and replenished. And, because ammonia can be lethal, daily checks are a legal requirement of the facility. At certain intervals the crankcase needs to be opened, inspections made, and costly valves replaced. At longer intervals a complete overhaul is needed with bearings, seals, and valve assemblies replaced. Installation dates of relief valves also need to be recorded and kept on a scheduled replacement program. Eventual degradation of valve seals often cause the necessity of overhauling peripheral valves and floats.
And then there is brine.
Those unfortunate enough to have Calcium Chloride brine need to perform chemical maintenance. Without consistent chemical maintenance, the PH level of the brine will slip out of tolerance, beginning the process of destroying the heat exchangers. Normally the warm side goes first but eventually, in the 15-20 year range, the chiller vessel itself will be compromised. Costly terms such as ammonia contamination, Eddy Current Tests, and plugging of tubes become common diagnoses, requiring expensive decisions to be made. Typically, none of this can be performed in-house.
The New Standard: ice3 Cube Systems
When the ice3 Cube System came along, EVERYTHING changed. The ice3 Cube Systems are the opposite of the old commercial plants with refrigeration as its primary basis of design. In contrast the ice3 Cube System is a water-cooled unit with extremely low refrigerant charges intentionally designed as a modular chiller for the ice rink duty with the ability to provide A/C and the ability to reuse residual waste heat if needed.
The bullet-proof scroll compressor is the core of the unit. Heat exchanges are brazed plate style and by operating with glycol use on both sides, they are kept clean with a lengthy projected lifespan. Digital controls are the brain of any refrigeration system, and ours have been fine-tuned to maximize the efficiency of the ice3 Cubes. Duplicitous safeties in the system design and the remote digital controls aim to outmaneuver any potential problems that could arise. Open cooling towers with interior plate and frame heat exchangers allow for easy maintenance. Daily checks and fluid replenishment are no longer needed, with closed loop glycol systems initially installed with corrosion inhibitors that offer piece-of-mind for extended periods and the redundancy of multiple ice3 Cubes allows for a shutdown of a unit without off hours service required. Furthermore, in-house maintenance personnel of the larger municipalities and universities now can service this more familiar equipment in-house. Maintenance and service costs tumble in comparison to previous ammonia plants, while the outside vendor costly service time has become extremely limited. When coupled with an ice3 Cube System central plant control system, remote monitoring allows for a simulated mechanical room walkthrough to be performed from anywhere in the world, minimizing exposure to site visitors or staff personnel. Peace of mind from all these features culminates with remote trouble alerts so that should something go awry, you’re instantly notified, and an investigation into what went wrong can begin without even worrying about where you put your car keys.
Low Cost of Maintenance for Refrigeration Plants, Now Slashed: by Design
When asked what it takes to maintain an ice3 Cube an operator at Merrimack College, after a year of run time, said “beyond the cooling tower all you need is a grease gun”. Operators that have transitioned from ammonia or other industrial systems cannot believe how simple the ice3 Cubes are to maintain. The days of daily checks and dealing with oil both in and out of the plant are long gone.
In addition, before the ice3 Cubes even show up at your door you’re buying quality. Emerald’s ice3 Cube testing station guarantees you’re buying quality.
Request a Consultation
The expert team at Emerald Environmental Technologies can help define and customize which ice3 Cubes combinations are ideal for your community/municipal/outdoor, upgrade project, or collegiate rink. Emerald Environmental Technologies is based in New England and services the entire east coast up through Canada. Contact us today to request a free consultation or call 603-238-9249 to speak with Andy Grignon.