Refrigerants at NU rinks in compliance with new fed requirements

NEW ULM – In Minnesota, ice is never in short supply. However for some communities maintaining an indoor ice rink is becoming even more challenging. In the next six years the federal government is looking to phase out chlorodifluoromethane, commonly called R-22.

R-22 is refrigerant mainly used in air conditioning units, but it has also been used as coolant for ice rinks. R-22 has been identified as harmful to the environment, with a high potential for ozone depletion.

As a result hundreds of rinks, many located in Minnesota, will need to upgrade to a new cooling system when R-22 is phased out in the next six years.

Fortunately for New Ulm residents the two ice sheets at the New Ulm Civic Center will not need updating. Park and Rec Director Tom Schmitz said the change-over does not effect New Ulm because the refrigerant is not used here.

The Civic Center ice rinks use a special blend of coolants that are “more environmentally friendly” called R-507, according to Bob Haala, Park and Rec Building Crew Leader,

R-507 was developed as replacement for R-22 and other harmful refrigerants. While R-22 may be a more effective coolant, Haala explained that with R-507 the process of flooding and freezing the Civic Center rinks only takes five days.

Use of non-ozone depleting chemicals will save New Ulm significant cost. Estimates for upgrading an indoor ice rink refrigerant system vary from $100,000 to $1 million, according to a report by the Associated Press. More than 100 indoor ice rinks in Minnesota will need to be updated.

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