Heat recovery refrigeration powers new ice centre


05 September 2023
Four Gorac refrigeration packs, based on BITZER screw compressors, maintain perfect ice conditions at the new centre

The refrigeration system at the heart of the new Lee Valley Ice Centre in north east London uses high efficiency Gorac cooling packs based on BITZER screw compressors. 

Installed by G&O Refrigeration 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 has capacity for 800 spectators, and includes a café, gym, exercise studios and community spaces.

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 R1234yf, including plant room ventilation and integrated leak detection systems.

Content continues after advertisements

James Ogden, who heads G&O Refrigeration, 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 system uses a two-stage heat recovery process to increase water temperatures from 45°C leaving the first stage, to 85°C 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," added 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. 

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.