North America: Ice rinks and the phaseout of HCFC-22
According to the International Ice Hockey Federation (FIH), there are 1,800 indoor ice rinks depending on refrigeration for their ice in the USA, and 3 250 ice rinks in Canada. The most recent ones generally use ammonia as their refrigerant, but many older ice rink systems can still contain thousand of kilograms of R-22.
The US production and import of R-22 will end on January 1, 2020, even if the refrigerant may still be used in existing facilities. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes in a fact shift that even though there is no immediate need for change, supply of R-22 will decline over the next few years, and prices may rise. It is therefore important to consider alternative refrigerants, especially when the time comes to replace or retrofit an existing system. The EPA produced a document listing the acceptable substitutes for R-22 refrigerant.
Here are a few examples of retrofits from R-22 to other refrigerants :
The ice rink of the Brooklyn Park Community Activity Center, in Minnesota, built in 1983, used a R-22 system which recently began experiencing issues, such as corrosion in the vessels or leaks. The City of Brooklyn Park therefore began working with an engineering company to design an indirect ammonia/calcium chloride system to replace the old refrigeration system. According to the City of Brooklyn Park, the new system requires half the energy of the previous systems to perform at the same capacity.
Another Minnesota arena, Bernick’s Arena in Sartell, recently completed a retrofit from R-22 to R-407F, a refrigerant produced by the company Honeywell. According to the facilities manager at Bernick’s Ice Arena, R-407F fits the requirements of the arena’s existing indirect refrigeration system. The retrofit of the system was completed within a week. The floor then only took six days to cool as opposed to seven with the R-22 system. Moreover, the floor temperature was previously set at 18°F, whereas Bernick’s now achieves the same result while keeping the floor set 3° higher. This can mean the compressors don’t have to work as hard, which can contribute to energy savings.
Another EPA-approved option for ice rink operators is R-434a. The Brownstown Sports Center in Brownstown Charter Township, Michigan, recently converted an R-22 rink to R-434a. Only 36 hours were needed for the conversion. Ron Zimmers, vice president of operations at the complex, said he never saw ice freeze that fast.