Six ice rinks at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will use CO2 as a refrigerant, according to Art Sutherland, president and CEO of Victoria, B.C.-based ice arena contractor Accent Refrigeration Systems.

Sutherland explained that five rinks that are being built will use CO2 while four existing rinks, which were using R404A, plan to employ R449A, except for one that decided to switch to CO2

“Once those other four ice rinks saw that [the new rinks] were going with CO2, one them then jumped on board,” said Sutherland, who gave this update during the contractor’s panel discussion on day two of ATMOsphere America, held June 17-18 in Atlanta, Ga.

Sutherland, who has worked as a consultant for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the last two Olympics. noted that during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea,  all of the refrigerant used was R404A.

“But [the IOC has] an environmental committee and they wanted to have a green olympics,” Sutherland said. “And when they brought me to China to have a look at the plans of what’s happening there, all the facilities were R404A again. It was quite a challenge to get that direction to change.”

Sutherland first suggested several types of low-charge ammonia-based systems as a replacement for the R404A systems.

“First, out of the gate, I always go ammonia, but ammonia is just a non-starter in Beijing in public facilities.”

Sutherland added that he is seeing CO2 ice rinks catching on in China even outside of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

“What is interesting is that, with other private rinks or other municipal rinks in the geographic region, three more of those are going with CO2. One year ago, there wasn’t a single CO2 rink in China. I have to give them credit for being very brave at biting the bullet now that we’ve got nine of them that are going in there. So it is good news.”

Sutherland remarked that he is now going to China “every six weeks for the next three years.”

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