The Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex recently installed REALice Technology for both of their ice surfaces.
Created in Malmo, Sweden — REALice is cutting edge technology which sustains high quality of ice at a fraction of the energy costs.
Director of Community Services Geoff Paynton said around $30,000 in capital funds to purchase REALice were granted by the Cariboo Regional District’s community works fund devoted to green projects.
The cost of the REALice is anticipated to pay for itself between two to three years.
“If the product does everything it says which we are confident it will, this will be one of the better green projects we’ve done,” said Paynton.
“There’s not many investments that can pay for themselves in less than three years,” facility maintenance co-ordinator Garry Breck added.
REALice works by removing micro-bubbles through degassing of air bubbles resulting water to flow more easily over the ice with better heat transfer.
“With REALice the technology gets rid of the oxygen through a vortex chamber and pulverizes all the elements in the water beforehand so only regular tap water at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit is needed to flood the ice,” said Breck.
A major cost in building ice goes into annually heating hundreds of thousands of gallons of water up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit when the Zamboni goes over the ice. Hot water is typically the way air bubbles are removed.
“By no longer having to heat the water and just use water right out of the tap will save a ton of money,” Paynton said.
Other advantages are REALice creates harder, clearer ice and softer water.
Breck says they can keep their slabs of ice thinner moving from a thickness of about 1-1.25 inches thick as opposed to around 1.5 inches. This will save money on the cost of cooling the ice.
The softening of the water will also make a huge impact by cutting down on the fog on the ice service and hardly having to run the dehumidifiers.
“Here in Williams Lake we have very hard water which can create the ice to fog up and we use dehumidifiers at each ends of the two rinks to deal with this. We think now we will only need to run the dehumidifiers maybe 10 or 15 per cent of what we previously needed to,” said Breck.
The ice clarity has been an issue as well as the lines on the ice becoming very blurry.
“When the Stampeders or midgets pound the ice really hard during practice or games you can barely see the lines and the logos – with the new, denser ice it should stay much clearer,” said Paynton.
REALice is currently used in more than 300 rinks in Europe and Williams Lake will be the 14th rink in B.C. to use the technology which has received rave reviews.
“Everybody loves the technology and no rinks have taken it out. It was used at the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Sweden last year and we think it will soon become the norm for every rink to have REALice,” said Breck.
Castlegar, B.C. Installed REALice last season and they are about the same size arena with a similar season length to Williams Lake of 250 days. Castlegar saw noticeable cost effectiveness in their first season which the lakecity hopes to emulate. Their ice flooding temperature saw a decrease from 140 degrees to 48 degrees Fahrenheit and their slab temperature set point increased to 24.5 degrees up from 21 degrees Fahrenheit. This resulted in saving 520 GJ of natural gas and 85,000 kWh in electricity.
Breck installed the technology at the complex himself and workers are currently in the process of adding the first layers to the ice.
The rinks open Monday, Aug. 18 with hockey camps going on so they will be the first skaters to try the new ice.
“We’re hoping for some great reviews — this is a great thing — not only will it save us a few bucks but it will improve the ice and help the environment as well,” said Paynton.