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Ice technology put to the test

Tilbury Ice one of 10 rinks in province in ice resurfacing pilot program
Delta parks, recreation and culture director Ken Kuntz (left), Coun. Robert Campbell and Håkan Grönlund, head of global business development with H20 Vortex/Watreco, were at an arena tour at Tilbury Ice last Thursday.

Tilbury Ice is one of 10 rinks in the province taking part in a 10-week pilot program to test technology used for ice resurfacing.

FortisBC, which invested $300,000 to fund the pilot program, projects the 10 rinks will realize natural gas savings equivalent to heating more than 300 homes or taking almost 300 cars off the road.

The REALice technology being tested comes from Europe. It is relatively new to North America but it has been installed in more than 250 locations internationally, noted FortisBC energy efficiency and conservation director Sarah Smith.

She said the International Ice Hockey Federation endorses the technology.

Currently Zambonis use hot water to resurface the ice, explained Jim Kobialko, program manager for innovative technologies with FortisBC. The hot water gets rid of micro bubbles, which creates a hard, smooth skating surface.

The REALice technology allows cold water, which goes through a compact piping system with no moving parts, to be used. The water spins through a device and with that spinning motion the micro bubbles are removed, explained Kobialko.

A baseline period, where the ice quality and consumption of natural gas before the installation of the new unit, has been completed, he noted.

If there is good feedback in terms of ice quality and if savings associated with the upgrade are able to be quantified after the 10-week pilot, FortisBC would look at developing a full program for all of its ice rink customers, he noted.

Ken Kuntz, Delta's director of parks, recreation and culture, said his understanding is the technology creates harder ice.

"Energy savings and improved ice quality, that's really what this is about," he said.

Håkan Grönlund, head of global business development with H20 Vortex/Watreco, the company that created REALice, said the technology was used at arenas that hosted the recent World Junior Hockey Championship in Sweden and the World Ice Hockey Championship in Finland last year.