Natural refrigerants in conjunction with Structural Air Dome could provide ‘greenest solution’ for winter sports facilities

By team, Nov 19, 2015, 14:42 8 minute reading

CTC has teamed up with strategic partner Broadwell to bring environmentally friendly winter sport and entertainment facilities to the market. We sat down with CTC Group Chairman & CEO Guy Evon Cloutier to learn more about the projects. Could you tell us a bit more about the Structural Air Dome?

Cloutier: The Structural Air Dome is a completely viable alternative to traditional buildings and is appropriate for a broad range of applications requiring large enclosed spaces with controlled atmospheric conditions. The technology has been used since the early 60s for different purposes including agriculture, industrial, military and leisure applications. The Structural Air Dome is a safe, energy-efficient and an economic solution.

CTC realized early on the potential of such products for sports and entertainment purposes, and of particular interest for venues dedicated to host ice and snow activities. From that perspective, CTC has developed custom designed systems adapted to the Structural Air Dome, to provide an efficient solution for the construction of ice rinks, curling rinks, speed skating ovals, ski and snowboarding domes, and recreational winter parks. This concept is now being introduced in Asia by CTC, which is our pride.

The Structural Air Dome for winter sports and entertainment facilities is the result of many years of collaboration and R&D with our strategic partner Broadwell, a pioneer and a leading company in the design and manufacturing of air-supported structures. Several Structural Air Dome projects have been completed in the last two years, with the first ice rink successfully commissioned last June in Beijing. After the first months of operation the results are very positive, exceeding the expected performance, and the facility is currently the center of attention within the ice hockey and the winter sports community in China. What are the main benefits of this solution?

Cloutier: The increasing concerns about pollution and its health consequences in China and other countries in Asia, as well as the unsuitable weather conditions in other countries around the world, limit the interest of the population for outdoor sports and leisure activities. The Structural Air Dome is a great solution addressing these problems, as it is a totally enclosed structure where the conditions can be easily adjusted. In fact, it acts as a purification system, keeping better air quality than outside (2.5 PM less).

CTC and Broadwell had developed a product that is suitable for winter sports and entertainment facilities including an advanced insulation system: the patented ‘thermal layer’. With a double fabric layer and an in-between insulation layer, their Air Dome maintains the cold temperature inside while saving energy.

In terms of security and safety, the Structural Air Dome is approved by the American authoritative bodies. It has the unique patented Bias-harness cable net system, which allows it to resist to more than 16-degree typhoons and 250 Kg/m2 snow load. Also, the product is fireproof and certified with Class B1 fire rate according to the norm ASTMZ-136.

A very important aspect of this solution is that compared to a traditional structure, it reduces considerably the project construction time. It could be installed in only 10 days and also it can be easily dismantled, relocated and reused, giving a great flexibility to the facility owner.

Lastly, in comparison with a traditional construction building, the Structural Air Dome decreases the capital and operating cost, saving up to 80% of the energy consumption required by a traditional concrete structure as commonly used in China. The Air Dome is able to house a full-size ice rink with fully controlled climate conditions. Do you see the potential for the use of natural refrigerants for this purpose?

Cloutier: Definitely, there is a great potential for the use of natural refrigerants such as ammonia in the Structural Air Dome for winter sports and recreational facilities.

This is a perfect element to offer a full “green solution” to the market: energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.

Nevertheless, specifically talking about China, there is a risk that the use of natural refrigerant for these kinds of facilities will still take time to be implemented. Currently, NH3 is not fully accepted in China, this following repeated fatal incidents in the food and logistic industries, and CO2 is quite new in this market and needs more time and effort to educate people. However, we agree that natural refrigerants are the right direction and CTC is working along with the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) towards the objective to promote and intensify the use of ammonia and CO2 in China and Asia. What benefits do you think can be realised by combining natural refrigerants with the Air Dome design?

Cloutier: The Structural Air Dome along with the use of natural refrigerants could be the “greenest solution” and the most efficient alternative for winter sports and entertainment facilities in the market, saving time, energy and money, decreasing the initial investment and the operating costs. Furthermore, it can also be nicely fitted with the architectural urban landscape of the cities, and in total respect of the environment. Does CTC already have available ammonia refrigeration products that could be implemented in this context?

Cloutier: In recent years CTC has been dedicating a great part of his research agenda to the development of ammonia-based products, working together with the Harbin Technology University and the IIAR, among others. These technologies and product are now available and offered by CTC for all types of Ice and Snow applications. In what markets do you see the most potential for CTC’s Structural Air Dome solutions?

Cloutier: CTC started promoting the Structural Air Dome for winter sports and recreational facilities five years ago in China. After completing the first project, it is now confirmed that this solution has a huge potential for the market, even more now that Beijing has been selected to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games and there is a sudden surge of interest created by “The China Winter Dream”, a head program of China’s President, Mr. Xi Jingping.

We also see a great potential for the Asia pacific region, especially in cities such Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, as the construction cost is very high and where controlled climatic conditions are required, demanding large amounts of energy.

North America and especially Canada are other markets that we are currently targeting and we truly believe that there is a lot of room for this solution, as one of the regions where winter sports and activities make part of the culture. How is the Structural Air Dome concept received so far? Are end users open and receptive to the solution?

Cloutier: The Structural Air Dome seems to be really admired by people. Aesthetically it is a beautiful and very distinctive architectural construction. The users have a great experience when practicing sports or activities inside. It is very pleasant, with clean air, efficient lighting, controlled temperature and humidity, all automatically monitored and optimally adjusted to ensure the comfort of user. The fact that the air inside the Air Dome is clean motivates people to practice sports as they know they are exposed to safe conditions for their health. We take pride in providing the best possible solution, and the satisfaction is our ultimate reward. How do you see the market for such structures evolving in the next five years?

Cloutier: I see the Structural Air Dome as a general adopted solution by governments, schools, universities, sports clubs and community centers, in order to impact the promotion of sports programs and leisure activities within the community. People in developed countries are getting more and more sensitive to the importance of practising sports, to stay fit, but also to maintain a good health and prevent illness. CTC has developed a standard solution that may be easily replicated and implemented everywhere, reaching the entire population.

Technically speaking, this solution will keep evolving with energy-efficient supporting systems, as for example natural refrigeration and air conditioning systems, geothermal and solar energy.

In China, we believe that the Structural Air Dome will become the new standard for winter sports and recreational facilities.

About Mr. Guy Evon Cloutier

Chairman and CEO at CTC Group Ltd, Mr. Cloutier has more than 33 years of experience in the refrigeration, ice and snow industry, including 23 years at CIMCO, a diversified North American refrigeration leading company. During that time, he acquired a wealth of experience in engineering, project management and sales & development in the fields of winter sports projects and other industrial refrigeration applications.

A senior corporate executive with many years of practical international business experience in China and Asia, he conducted business in numerous countries around the world, having led start-up and also the restructuring of existing businesses. His insight and extensive experience in strategic planning, structuring, and negotiation of various transactions, provide a comprehensive approach, combined with an unparalleled network in the field of Sports and Entertainment, in Asia, America and around the world.

About CTC

CTC is a leading company in the field of winter sports and entertainment. From planning, concept design, technologies, turnkey project and facility operation and management, CTC provides innovative, cost-efficient and “Total Solution” to its customers. CTC is involved in different sector of activities including consulting, projects and sports and entertainment.

About Broadwell

BROADWELL is a technology company, aiming to provide customers with professional and efficient architecture solutions using structural air dome technologies. BROADWELL initially introduced air structure into China and is recognized as a global leader in the field. With its own patented technologies and R&D capability, the company successfully serve the structural air dome industry in a large variety of fields, from sports, industrial, environmental protection, and the food industry, in China and around the world.


By team (@ammonia21)

Nov 19, 2015, 14:42

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