London’s new World-class Ice Centre Uses Advanced Refrigeration and Heat Recovery System

Date: 06 September 2023
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The refrigeration system at the heart of the new world-class Lee Valley Ice Centre in North East London uses high efficiency Gorac cooling packs based on BITZER screw compressors.

Installed by G&O Refrigeration Ltd working with Ice Tech UK, the cooling plant uses an advanced heat recovery system to harness waste heat that would otherwise be lost to atmosphere to provide supplementary heating for the building, and as the energy source for the snow melt pit and permafrost protection loop beneath the ice pads.

Heat recovered from the refrigeration system is also used to produce domestic hot water for the centre’s visitor facilities and on-site cafe.

The centre has two Olympic-sized rinks, replacing a single smaller rink in the previous facility on the site. The new ice centre, believed to be the first of its kind in the South East, has capacity for 800 spectators, and includes a café, gym, exercise studios and community spaces, all set within sensitively landscaped gardens.

The rinks are cooled by four Gorac chillers based on high efficiency inverter-driven BITZER CSVH screw compressors, with a combined cooling capacity of 800kW. The chillers deliver cooling to the twin ice pads via a secondary glycol circuit, and are future-proofed with built-in retrofitability to R-1234yf, including plant room ventilation and integrated leak detection systems.

James Ogden, who heads G&O Refrigeration Ltd, said: "Refrigeration plant is the single biggest consumer of electrical power for ice rinks, and it's vital to ensure it is as efficient as possible. We use BITZER screw compressors because of their excellent efficiency, reliability, compact dimensions and engineering quality. The technical support we receive from the UK team is also second-to-none."

The heat recovery system helps mitigate the recent sharp increases in the cost of energy. It uses a two-stage heat recovery process to increase water temperatures from 45degC leaving the first stage, to 85degC after the second stage.

"The heat recovery system makes a big difference to overall efficiency, capturing between 200-500kWh of energy and saving an estimated £150,000 a year in energy costs," said James Ogden. "This is a huge contribution to reducing running costs and also significantly cuts the centre's carbon footprint and environmental impact."

A total of 30 Gorac chillers, all based on BITZER screw compressors, have been installed to date across the UK. Another key benefit of the system is the ability to remotely monitor and diagnose potential problems via G&O Refrigeration's proprietary control systems, which are programmed to meet the needs of each project.

"It enables us to view any issues remotely and, if a replacement part is needed, ensure we have it on the van when we visit the site, enabling a first-time fix – reducing downtime and ensuring the rinks stay in tip-top working order."

Kevin Glass, Managing Director of BITZER UK, said: "Lee Valley have taken an exemplary approach to refrigeration for the new ice centre. It not only ensures a great experience for skaters and those using the facility, but minimises the impact on the wider environment.”

Main contractor on the project was Buckingham Group Contracting Ltd (BGCL) and the architect FaulknerBrowns.

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