Isarenes face a dilemma as R-22 is phased out

As a director of maintenance and operation at Grand Forks' Ralph Engelstad Arena, one of Muus & # 39; responsibility the rink's ice cooling plant – an estimated area of ​​2500 square meters in the depths of UND hockey. [19659002] And by 2020, the refrigerant gas used for operating the system – the R-22 – will no longer be produced or imported to the United States, part of a global effort to reduce greenhouse gases and protect the ozone layer.

And there is Muus & # 39; dilemma: Should Ralph continue to spend money on getting increasingly difficult – and therefore increasingly expensive – R-22, or should the facility undergo an expensive renovation to change ice production? [1[ads1]9659002] It's a question being asked in communities across North Dakota and Minnesota, where nearly half of these states are about 300 rink running on R-22.

"Unfortunately, not everyone who makes a plan … but some plans you make are thousands and thousands of dollars," said Dave Wescott, a certified ice technician consulting rink across the country, including arenas in cities throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. "It's a big, big deal, especially for small municipalities."

A complete overhaul of the ice system can be a $ 1 million upgrade – a significant cost for cash-strapped communities.

R-22, most commonly used in air conditioners, began phase-out with the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty signed in August 1987. The treaty was designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production of many substances responsible for ozone depletion.

The treaty aimed at dating in 2004, 2010 and 2015 for the United States to meet R-22 consumption standards.

On January 1, 2020, the Montreal Protocol requires that US chemical manufacturers can no longer produce R-22 to service existing systems.

At REA, Muus probably has R-22 on hand – a supply estimated at more than 3000 pounds – to provide a waiting time, perhaps as long as 10 years.

R-22 is not the only friend available. Another option is the R-134A, widely used in cars and refrigerators. There are also R-410A (often used in home air conditioners) and R-507 (a mix of two regular freons).

However, Muus said that these boyfriends do not run as effectively on the system as R-22. Others said these alternative friends are not fully compatible with existing systems that previously run on R-22.

Wescott, owner of All Star Arena in Tampa, Fla., Drove zambonis at 17. Now he has worked the ice at the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, 2006 and Salt Lake City in 2002. He spent two years (2011 and 2013 ) as head of ice maintenance for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, and has consulted international ice hockey events at the REA and Scheels Arena in Fargo.

Because of the alternate freedoms, Wescott believes that communities working on renovation projects right now need upgrades as much for the ice plant age as for the R-22 phase exit itself.

If you are using a system that is still running the R-22, you probably have a system that needs to be upgraded, "Wescott said." The typical life cycle of industrial plants is 30 years. At that time, it will start giving you grief enough for you to consider compensation. "

If a new freon is not the answer, Muus will see other pathways that test new technology before REA commits to an alternative direction.

The options for moving from the R-22 are not great at the moment. Fascinated by carbon dioxide systems, although their use is extremely rare, he does not want to use ammonia – although he said it is the most effective. He is frightened by potential health hazards and similar ventilation needs.

"When I heard about this, I was nervous because I didn't know what the changes would be, "said Muus." The CO2 systems were not out there and the idea of ​​bringing in ammonia … you have ammonia leakage and people get sick. I will personally stay away from it if I can. "

In 2017, three ice-cream workers died of ammonia poisoning due to a 30-year-old plant leaking through rust and corrosion in Fernie, BC, a community of 5,000 near Vancouver.

Ammonia plants are also twice as much as the cost for freon plants, says Wescott.

Due to carbon dioxide, Muus is estimated to have fewer than a dozen rinks worldwide right now operating on this system, so that a problem might exist in finding available products or finding someone for "Another disadvantage of the carbon dioxide system is that the cost can be $ 1 million more than a typical cooling system," said Wescott. They also do not work in hot weather climates, he said.

"Many rinkers have R-22 and many rinkers exactly match our mix, "said Muus. … But I want you to try it first. "

At least, REA has a deep supply of R-22. Other rink is not so lucky.

After the 2020 deadline, arenas still have choices, they can use any R-22 they can have in supply, buy from other rinkers supply or buy recycled R-22.

However, some worry that the price of the R-22 will be high as the supply is exhausted

In Grand Forks, the Eagles Arena had operated on its original cooling system from 1985. After an unsuccessful effort to convert the old system to a new freon, Eagles will undergo a $ 850,000 reconstruction this summer to insert a new plant, Bill Park's Executive Director Bill Palmiscno. compressors and a new electrical system.

Grand Forks second rink has already passed from R-22. Icon Sports Center was built in 2014 with an updated system, while Purpur Arena installed a new plant three years ago. 659002] Gambucci Arena was transformed into a newer freon system after a $ 50,000 upgrade, according to Palmiscno.

East Grand Forks is at a junction with the R-22 phase exit. The city is discussing whether to continue with the R-22, replace the ice systems at the Civic Center and VFW or build a new arena. East Grand Forks City Council hired JLG Architects for $ 10,000 in mid-June to explore the three options.

Meanwhile, EGF Parks and Recreational Director Reid Huttunen have told the city council that he is planning to buy around 2000 pounds of R-22 from Grand Forks & Midwest Cooling at $ 12.59 per pound – $ 25,180 in total. The city has about 450 pounds of stock, which employees deduct when they need to patch a portion of the systems. The city has spent around 1500 pounds of R-22 over the last six years, Huttunen estimated.

Grafton's Centennial Center already underwent an upgrade that included a new cooling system at a cost of around $ 350,000, said Business Manager Matt Oppegard. The city worked with the local Blue Line Club on the project, which also included a new lobby.

The Centennial Center, which had operated on the cooling system from the late 1980s, went through the renovation about a year ago. 19659002] Thief River Falls has two isarenas: Ralph Engelstad Arena, which has the same name as the Grand Arena in Grand Forks and the Huck Olson Memorial Arena. Both rinks still use R-22, although Huck is scheduled for renovation, according to former arena manager Missy Sletten.

"The plan right now is to stick with the R-22 (at Ralph) and have a little in place if needed," said The Plain. "It's a newer system. We have a 5- to 10-year plan, but with the new Huck installation, the plan changed. "

In mid-June, Thief River Falls City Council approved the low bid of Midwest Refrigeration for new refrigeration equipment at The Huck at a price of $ 269,648.

The Gardens in Warroad is in a similar position. with our Olympic sheet still running on the R-22 and the second rink running on the R-410A.

"We are planning to make a renovation, so we are currently on the switch," Sa Arena Manager Jude Bouilanne. does not go through much R-22. Our system runs decent. We'll probably be in stock for the next couple of years, but the longer you wait, the more expensive the project will be. "

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