Ammonia - a future-proof solution in winter sports

By Sabine Lobnig, Oct 27, 2008, 00:00 3 minute reading

A rising pressure on facility managers to phase out HCFCs in ice skating or indoor skiing makes natural refrigerants an increasingly popular choice to modernize sports facilities. The European initiative eurammon has published case studies about natural refrigerants, with a special focus on ammonia applications.

To show how natural refrigerants, namely ammonia and carbon dioxide, are already working reliably in sporting facilities today, the European initiative for natural refrigerants, eurammon, has published a summary of three case studies highlighting their efficient use. Main driver for a switch to ammonia is the mounting pressure on managers of ice skating, ice hockey or skiing facilities to phase out ozone-depleting and high global warming coolants. From 2015 on all HCFCs are prohibited in refrigeration and air conditioning systems, with the phase out period already starting in 2010:

"This is forcing the branch to act. In the context of climate change and increasing energy prices, operators are finding it increasingly important to have environment-friendly refrigerating systems that make efficient use of energy. One possible solution for modernizing the systems consists of natural refrigerants, such as ammonia, with convincing properties such as sustainability and economic efficiency." says Monika Witt, chairwoman of eurammon.

Case Studies: Ammonia in winter sports

Curl Aberdeen ice rink: The 1,350 square metres ice rink in Summerhill, Aberdeen, is a centre of Scotland's traditional sport of curling. Cooling of the ice rink is provided by a critical charged refrigeration plant with a mere 80 kg of ammonia and a glycol circuit which is connected to the refrigerant circuit by means of an evaporator. The system has a refrigerating capacity of 253 kW to cool the secondary refrigerant glycol to -10°C before it is pumped through a network of pipes integrated in the rink’s floor.

A desuperheater on the high-pressure side makes thermal use of the compression heat of the refrigerant. The energy recovered in this way is used for the underfloor heating of the remaining facilities apart from the ice rink itself.

Tingvalla Ice Stadium: The refrigerating system of Europe’s largest open air stadium with an ice rink of 65 x 180 metres has been completely renewed with a CO2/NH3 cascade system. Used for bandy, a version of ice hockey popular in Scandinavia and Russia, the rink’s ice temperature was to be kept at a constant -4°C at outside temperatures of 12°C. The solution in Karlstad, Sweden, was designed with a cascade system using 1.3 tonnes of ammonia as refrigerant and 16 tonnes of CO2 as secondary refrigerant with partial evaporation.

Cold production on the ammonia side is generated by three one-stage screw compressor combined sets with a total refrigerating capacity of around 2,300 kW and a pumping volume of 4,100 m3 per hour. Each of the 10 open screw compressors used is directly coupled to a high efficiency drive motor with a rated output of 110 kW (see image).

Ski Dubai: The world’s third largest indoor snow park offers sporting activities for up to 1,500 visitors on 22,500 m2, including five skiing slopes covered with more than 6,000 tonnes of snow cooled by an ammonia refrigeration machine with a capacity of 2,600 kW. At an evaporation temperature of -22°C, ammonia cools the secondary refrigerant glycol to -15°C. Connected to the NH3 machine by two plate heat exchangers, the glycol is then transported through a piping system 100 km in length that runs through the building floor under the one metre thick snow layer. This ensures that the snow foundation remains frozen, and also feeds the 29 air coolers in the ceiling of the building, which keep the temperature in the snow park at a level of -1 to -2°C during opening hours. The NH3/glycol system and an efficient insulation of the building guarantee that energy accounts for less than 10% of the total operating costs.

About eurammon

eurammon is a joint European initiative of companies, institutions and individuals who advocate an increased use of natural refrigerants. Its main targets are creating a platform for information sharing and the promotion of public awareness and acceptance of ammonia, CO2 and other natural refrigerants.


By Sabine Lobnig

Oct 27, 2008, 00:00

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