The developers of a new ice rink in the city of Mechelen, Belgium, had a clear objective for the installation: to minimise energy consumption. By using CO2 as the refrigerant, not only does the system promise to deliver just that, but it also offers better ice quality. Italian supplier SCM Frigo together with Belgian partner Sabcobel designed the system, which will operate reliably regardless of external weather conditions.

After operating successfully in test mode during the hottest days of the year amid outside temperatures of up to 36°C, the ice rink opened on 11 September. It is Belgium’s first ice rink to use CO2 in transcritical mode, and the only one in the country able to open its doors all year round.

State-of-the art system

To keep the ice in perfect condition, the system counts on a centralised system with a total capacity of 450 kW. Four GEA compressors of 110 kW each, 4,500 kg of refrigerant charge in a central tank and over 20km of pipes under the ice rink deliver an evenly distributed temperature. Excess heat from the system’s operation is recovered to provide sanitary hot water, and underground heating for the arena seating and the bar annexed to the ice rink.

“We notice a much better ice quality in this installation. The feedback from the skaters and users is clear: they feel the difference,”  Mirko Bernabei, technical director at SCM Frigo, told

Indeed, the quality of the ice helped the rink to become the home seat of Belgium’s ice hockey team and a popular city attraction.

“90% of the installations we do currently, both for commercial and industrial systems, are with CO2.

Herwig Coppens, Sabcobel

Building CO2 expertise in Benelux

The ice rink is the latest fruit of cooperation between SCM Frigo and Sabcobel that has been going on for 10 years now, helping to increase knowledge of natural refrigerants in the region. “Our technicians are now well qualified and able to handle CO2. They are also getting upgraded regularly,” said Herwig Coppens, Sabcobel’s general manager.

Since its first installation with natural refrigerants in 2005 Sabcobel has gone a long way. “90% of the installations we do currently, both for commercial and industrial systems, are with CO2,” explained Coppens.