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Build Yourself An Iceberg
"It'll work anywhere there's at least 150 hrs. of below-freezing weather," says Dr. Theodore Taylor, president of Nova, Inc., a company that's helping farmers and companies build "ice-powered" cooling systems that provide virtually "free" cooling and air-conditioning during summer months.
The idea is to use cold winter air to make massive chunks of ice for only the cost of operating a water pump, then using the ice throughout the summer in place of conventional, expensive-to-operate air-conditioning and refrigeration systems.
Taylor says the company plans to work with dairy farmers in using the "iceberg idea" to cool milk, with livestock producers to air-condition over-heated barns, with egg producers who store eggs, orchard owners who store fruit, and any other farmer or food processor who has a need for low-cost cooling or refrigeration. And, of course, the idea will also work to air-condition any home or building, saving "90% or more over conventional cooling methods," according to Taylor.
The company set up its first "ice-power" system this past winter at the Kutter cheese plant in Pembroke, N.Y. A 900-ton ice chunk, formed over a two month period, will cool the plant's cheese coolers and air-condition its offices this summer.
The ice at the plant began to take shape January 3 when five nozzles started spraying water towards the center of a shallow reservoir designed to hold the ice and the water that'll melt off next summer. The ice should easily last through the hot summer and fall months, when the company will begin to make more ice, according to Taylor.
Pipes run from the ice chunk, which is located just outside the Kutter plant, to cool-air radiators inside the bulding. The pipes collect water in an open area in the reservoir at the base of the ice chunk and send it inside. The water runs through the radiators, cooling the air, and is then carried back out to a cooling pond before it's fed back into the ice reservoir.
To make and store the ice, the company first digs a reservoir several feet deep, about 60 ft. across and with a low wall around it. Five nozzles spray water into the air above the reservoir at a rate of about 40 gal. per minute. If it's cold enough, most of the mist turns to ice, falling into the reservoir. The rest remains as water and recirculates through the system. The pump keeps drawing water off the bottom of the growing mass of ice and blowing it out above.
"We've calculated that we can make about 10 times as much ice by first spraying it into the air than by simply filling a pond and letting it freeze," says Harry Warren, a Nova project engineer. "The air pre-cools the water so ice forms faster." The ice formed using the Nova method is extremely porous so that water flows freely through it.
Once enough ice had formed at the Kutter plant, it was covered with 4-in. of polystyrene with an insulating value of about R20. A couple layers of plastic, force-filled with air blown in by a small fan, goes over that. The plastic insulates and stays in a bubble shape that sheds rain.
Even after all the ice is formed, thousands of gallons of water remain at the bottom of the ice. This water is pumped out to cool the cheese plant's coolers. The return water is cooled in a holding pond before it's pumped back in with the ice. In areas where there's enough ground water available, the holding pond could be eliminated.
The Kutter plant plans to use their ice-cooling system to bring their coolers down to about 45?, and air-condition the rest of the plant. They have spent about $40,000 on the system, which was used on a limited basis last year.
Company officials note that costs could be greatly reduced on the system. The ice could be covered with plastic and straw, for example, and the reservoir could be built without a wall around it. It might also be possible to pull the cool air directly off the ice chunk without any extra plumbing.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Nova, Inc., 7800 Air Park Rd., Gaithersburg, Md. 20879 (ph 301 963-2400).

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #2