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Inside Durban Ice Arena’s new plant room

The entire refrigeration plant of the old ice rink, except for one evaporative condenser, was removed and scrapped. We check out the new and improved plant room of the Durban Ice Arena, complete with ammonia refrigerant.

The new central ammonia refrigeration plant, designed by Christo van der Merwe, a Cape Town based refrigeration consultant at the time, features two Mycom N4M reciprocating compressors that are belt-driven by 90kW motors. One compressor is sufficient to handle the total load, while the second compressor provides 100% standby capacity. One compressor is fitted with a variable frequency drive (VFD) for capacity control. The compressors each deliver 280kW at -12°C/+35°C.

Ammonia is gravity-fed from the insulated surge drum to two ammonia/glycol plate heat exchangers.

From the plate heat exchangers, glycol is circulated at -10°C by two Grundfos pumps with 15kW motors. A third pump provides standby capacity in the case of a pump malfunction.

For safety reasons, the plant has a critical charge of only 300kg of ammonia, which is limited to the plant room.

The ammonia circuit includes a Witt HP float. In the event of an ammonia leak, the extractor fan in the plant would discharge at a level high above the roof. Piping and vessels are insulated with preformed polyurethane sections, with a foil-to-Mylar vapour barrier, which is protected by aluminium cladding.

Heat of rejection from the compressors is recovered to heat water to between 50°C and 55°C for use in the ablution facilities.

The removal of the old plant, installation and commissioning of the new plant was done by the KwaZulu-Natal branch of MRE. All maintenance work is now also handled by MRE.

“The installation of the new plant went smoothly, and with me now being part of the MRE team, I am able to monitor the performance of the plant closely,” says Christo van der Merwe.

“It was interesting to work on an ice rink project. We do not see many ice rinks in our normal course of business. We used this project to install the new M-series Mycom reciprocating compressors, which offer improved coefficient of performance (COP), leading to reduced power consumption and lower electricity costs,” says Grant Delaney, managing director of MRE KwaZulu-Natal.

“The Olive Convention Centre and Durban Ice Arena have again brought international fame to Durban’s Golden Mile beachfront,” concluded Daniel.


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