New ice system saves arenas big bucks

An innovative energy-saving ice-making system that the Cowichan Valley Regional District has been trying out at arenas in Duncan and Mill Bay this year received rave reviews from icemakers and users alike.

The REALice system, which promises to save money and energy by reducing electricity and gas usage, has been employed at the Island Savings Centre and Kerry Park Arenas over the last four months, using unique technology to remove air bubbles from water.

The traditional resurfacing process involves pre-heating the water to remove tiny air bubbles so it will freeze harder and stronger. Instead of heat, the REALice process spins the water in a whirpool-like vortex, forcing the bubbles to be sucked out of the water. The results have impressed everyone so far.

"I was a skeptic at first, as it goes against all we are taught as icemakers using cold water only," Island Savings Centre facility operations coordinator Brad Coleman said. "After switching and witnessing results first hand and listening to user comments, I’m now convinced that this technology is the right choice for us."

The CVRD arenas are resurfaced as many as 2,400 times every hockey season, with more than 400 litres of water used each time. Further benefits from REALice include less work on the refrigeration plant to freeze the water, higher brine temperatures, and less energy required to dehumidify the arena. That adds up to more than $8,000 annual savings at each arena and a reduction of 35 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

The resulting ice proved to be clear, hard and strong, and none of the user groups, including the Cowichan Valley Capitals and Kerry Park Islanders junior hockey teams, had any complaints. "Our staff and users are completely satisfied with the switch," Kerry Park facility operations coordinator Tony Liddle said. "In fact, if we hadn’t told users about it, they wouldn’t even have noticed the change. On top of that, we are already seeing reductions in our gas and electricity usage."

According to the REALice website, more than 250 arenas around the world are using the system, including the Malmö Arena in Sweden, which hosted the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships, the Hartwall Arena in Finland, which hosted the 2013 World Championships, and the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, the home of the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg.

Other arena operators in the Cowichan Valley have been keeping an eye on the project.

"The results of cost savings while keeping good ice is the breakthrough that will positively impact all arena ice facilities," said Ernie Mansueti, director of parks and recreation for North Cowichan, which owns Fuller Lake Arena.

Rob Frost, who oversees ice-making at the Cowichan Lake Sports Arena, added that his facility will also consider REALice after the data from the Island Savings Centre and Kerry Park are analyzed.

Just Posted

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: Not securing your load could cost you big

An object of any sort falling off of the vehicle in front of you is definitely a surprise

Jared Popma recently streamed a live concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre. (Ashley Daniel Foot photo)
21-year-old jazz artist talks favourite tunes and joys of music theory

Jared Popma recently streamed a concert from the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre

Vetch cover crop beginning to flower. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Vetch and crimson clover to the rescue of soil fertility

I add dry organic fertilizer as plants use up what is in the soil.

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: A shift in perspective can sometimes change everything

Have you even been forced to wake up at 5:30 on a Saturday

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship during a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, May 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year, says immigration minister

Canada plans to increase persons admitted from 23,500 to 45,000 and expedite permanent residency applications

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a vaccination site in Vancouver Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
NACI advice to mix vaccines gets varied reaction from AstraZeneca double-dosers

NACI recommends an mRNA vaccine for all Canadians receiving a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

A aerial view shows the debris going into Quesnel Lake caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C., Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Updated tailings code after Mount Polley an improvement: B.C. mines auditor

British Columbia’s chief auditor of mines has found changes to the province’s requirements for tailings storage facilities

Most Read