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What It Is: Geothermal In Action

Hockey & Curling Arenas - Manitoba, Canada

The Selkirk Hockey Arena, Manitoba, Canada, is just one of several geothermal ice rinks built in Manitoba.

Completed in 1990, it contains an 85 x200-foot ice sheet, a 3,000 seat arena, locker rooms, banquet hall, offices, and a lobby. Only 22,400 square feet of that area is heated to 70 degrees. The ice is used ten months of the year.

The geothermal system is an open loop "pump and dump" type installed at a cost of $740,000 including the wells, rink piping, and complete heat pump installation. Heat pumps chilled the water-methanol antifreeze solution circulated under the ice.

Heat taken from the antifreeze heats water that is circulated throughout the building. This heat is also used to heat domestic hot water and the water is also used to flood the ice. The heat is even used to provide hot air for the bathroom hand dryers.

The well water, at a constant 44 degrees, is used to maintain ground temperature under the ice to avoid build-up of permafrost, which can cause the ground to buckle under the ice. The well water is also used to pre-heat and pre-cool the building's interior space.

A properly designed heat pump system can cut energy costs by a factor of four and cut electric demand in half. Hockey and curling arenas are the most obvious examples of suitable applications of integrated geothermal heat pump systems. An integrated system is suitable in any application where there are simultaneous heating and cooling demands.

The Swan Lake Recreation Center in Manitoba, is a very energy efficient rink. It has a horizontal loop system designed for heat recovery and thermal storage under the ice.

Other rinks use vertical loops. When ice is being chilled and excess heat is not needed, the earth loop stores heat energy in the ground until the heat is needed again.

When the ice is cooling, the heat bypasses the ground loop altogether and feeds directly into the fluids circulating through the heat pump condenser and fan coil units located in the building. When the ice temperature is satisfied, the heat is taken from the ground for circulation.

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