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      Michigan Tech ice arena goes green

      Two things Michigan Tech is known for is strides in technology and Huskies hockey. The universityâ??s new ice system brings those two together.

      Just behind MacInnes Ice Arena is a brand new ice chilling system. The one million dollar project was completed over the summer and replaced the 40-year-old, ozone-depleting Freon-22 system with an Earth-friendly ammonia brine system.

      Robert Garnell, building mechanic at the Student Development Center at Tech, said the new system is much easier to maintain.

      â??The old system seemed like it was a lot of babysitting,â?? explained Garnell. â??You had to make sure you kept a real sharp eye on it. This system runs pretty much flawlessly so far. Not a whole lot of maintenance; this system is a lot easier to control.â??

      The system is not just easier to control, it's more efficient as well.

      â??We heat 100 percent of our domestic hot water with the waste heat coming off the compressors, and we also maintain about 95 percent of the heat for our swim and dive pools,â?? Garnell said.

      The new system works by a saltwater brine being cooled by the anhydrous ammonia refrigerant in the â??chiller.â?? The saltwater is then sent through the pipes under the rink at about 12 degrees Fahrenheit. The new system has 13 miles of pipes underneath the rink, and it keeps the ice a full degree cooler.

      The cost of Freon has tripled in the last decade, and the new system will be saving the university an estimated $40,000 a year. Associate Athletic Director, David Nordstrom, said itâ??s not only good for the environment, but itâ??s good for the university as well.

      â??Weâ??ve been having a lot of compliments on our ice this year just with the change,â?? said Nordstrom. â??Thereâ??s been a lot of maintenance issues that weâ??ve had over the past probably five years, six years. Now with the new system, everything has been running smooth, very efficient. Very proud of the new system.â??