The municipality of Anchorage in Alaska operates the groundbreaking renovated ice rink, the Harry J. McDonald Recreational Center, which was installed with a Hillphoenix Advansor transcritical system that is already lowering electricity bills by 25-40%, following its completion in January.

Industrial Program Manager at Hillphoenix, Tim Henderson, admitted that there existed a perception of CO2 as ‘new technology’ in the U.S. and that barrier was a big factor in Hillphoenix’s decision to take on the pioneering project.

“Market interest in this technology is very high here in the USA, but it is currently perceived as ‘new technology’,” he said. “Since it is perceived as new, no one wanted to be the first.”

Ice arenas consume enormous amounts of energy, making high-efficiency CO2 a viable option for ice arena upgrades. But although the adoption of transcritical systems in ice rink installations is relatively new to the U.S., that is not the case globally. 

Swedish manufacturer Green & Cool supplied the first CO2 transcritical ice rink in Europe, in Sweden in 2014, with further installations in Canada from suppliers Smart Ref (2011 – world’s first) and Carnot.

“Now that that hurdle is crossed (first U.S. transcritical CO2 system) and the equipment is performing so well, we have many people working on designs for their arenas using this technology,” Henderson said. “We continue to educate the market that this is established, proven technology – and now established here in the U.S.”

Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan cut the ribbon on the new facility in January after a nine-month renovation and $3.5 million (€3.26 million) investment in the project.

Parks and Recreation Director for Anchorage, John Rodda, said the preliminary savings in Anchorage should lead to increased demand for these types of systems.

“We are already seeing savings, and we’re anticipating energy savings of 25 to 40 percent when all the results are in,” Rodda, told ACHR News. “We’ve got ice rinks calling us from all over the country to see how it’s going.”

Henderson said Hillphoenix ‘anticipated public and private ice rinks around the country would follow Anchorage’s lead’.  

As U.S. ice rinks endeavor to comply with federal regulation to phase out R-22, the successful test case at the McDonald Center should lead to increased demand for transcritical systems.

“We see more interest, literally on a daily basis, in this technology for the U.S. market. As word spreads about the success in Anchorage there are plans to buy additional equipment based on the performance of the first system.,” Henderson said.

“With ice rinks so commonly found in high density urban areas, having a 100% environmentally friendly Class A1 refrigerant (over ammonia’s Class B2 designation) is very attractive as a refrigerant choice.”

Hillphoenix, the world’s largest manufacturer of transcritical CO2 booster systems, has transformed ice rink operations in the U.S., providing better ice, ease of operation and installation, and significant energy and cost savings. The company has installed ice rinks with CO2 in Canada and was chosen for its proven track record, having worked with R744 systems since 2005. 

About Hillphoenix

Hillphoenix Inc. is a leading designer and manufacturer of commercial and industrial refrigeration systems, including integrated power systems, display cases, specialty products, walk-in coolers and freezers and ice rinks. Based in Dover, Georgia, Hillphoenix is the first American manufacturer of CO2 equipment. The story of Hillphoenix is built on creativity and customer-centric innovation with a commitment to delivering responsible solutions that are efficient, sustainable and comply with the latest industry regulatory standards.  


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Author jamesranson