The world’s first indirect ice rink (1982) with EPDM absorber mats
The fact that you are reading this information about our ICEGRID system shows your interest in the requirements of the target groups we mentioned. Until about 30 years ago ice rinks were basically built with ammonia. Then the first ice skating rinks were built that cooled with an indirect heat exchanger with brine rather than a direct system. The most important argument for the indirect system was the elimination of the risk that the ammonia piping could leak. This risk was a danger to the local residents.
At directly cooled ice rinks the ammonia evaporates in the steel piping that is laid into the concrete slab of the skating rink. As long as the entire piping is sealed, the system works very well. However, since ammonia is harmful to health even in very small doses, many countries have already banned its use in interior ice rinks. According to the new Hazardous Incident Ordinance very strict safety measures have to be observed for new and existing sites using ammonia. This will lead to an increased demand for redeveloping existing ice rinks which use ammonia.
In 1982 the engineer Kaveh Hakim-Elahi built the first ice rink with a double absorber system patented by him in Retz (Austria) within the framework of a research project of the Research Promotion Fund (Vienna). With this facility the swimming pool was heated in summer and in winter the absorber surface was turned into an ice skating rink.
All indirect systems offered today are based on this concept.
The absorber mats (several tubes, about 1 cm thick made of EPDM rubber, connected with each other) can be found in solar technology where they are used for heating swimming pools.
In Retz the system was reversed for the first time and brine (rather than pool water for heating) was sent through the absorber mats, cooled by a cooling unit, to freeze the water above.
This concept had several advantages compared to the directly cooled systems. In particular, the problem of vast amounts of ammonia was eliminated. And the several hundred ice rinks built with absorber mats by now prove that skeptics were wrong.