Ice Builders…Still Relevant?



Ice Builders…Still Relevant?

Have you ever seen one of these big ole rectangular tanks [usually outside] with a surge drum on top and the tank is full of water?  These hulking pieces of equipment might just be an ice builder and in many cases it plays an important role at a food processing facility.

Fundamentally, ice builders are a large tank of “ice water” that is held for a period of time.  If applied properly, the usage of this ice water is relatively short (to the tune of something less than 10-hrs) at which time it uses the ice to maintain a ~32°F temperature and then the remainder of the 24-hr day, the ice builder is able to regenerate the spent ice so we can get back to steady state before the next day’s demand.

The advantages of these systems is obvious to those that understand heat storage like us here at Carlson & Stewart Refrigeration.  Let’s take an arbitrary example of a heat load of 1,000TR and this is needed for 6-hrs in a day.  With conventional chilling this means that the refrigeration system needs to be sized for 1,000TR of cooling and the electrical demands may be high for this 6-hr window.  Alternatively, if an ice builder is utilized and sized properly, this 1000TR load for 6-hrs equates to a certain amount of ice and this ice could be built up over the remaining 18-hrs.  So instead of a 1,000TR load on for 6-hrs, it is more like a 333TR load for 18-hrs.  Now the refrigeration system can be smaller, and the electrical demand can be spread out more evenly throughout the day.

There are some disadvantages to consider though as well.  The real estate these ice builders usually occupy is not insignificant and so finding a home for them can sometimes be a bit challenging.  Similarly, as time passes, a facilities needs may change instead of a 6-hr usage window, maybe it increases to 18-hrs.  In these cases an ice builder may not be the right approach and unfortunately we at Carlson & Stewart Refrigeration see this too often where a facility operates an ice builder as a glorified instant chiller (which is extremely ineffective).

If you have any further questions on what kind of chiller is best for your application, contact Carlson & Stewart Refrigeration and one of the engineers can start working on a solution for you!