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Ice thermal storage becoming 'hot ticket'

New technology growing in regional popularity

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IMEC executive director Aslan Al Barazi.
IMEC executive director Aslan Al Barazi.

By Gerhard Hope

Ice thermal storage is becoming a ‘hot ticket’ in the district cooling market, although it is also finds application in other water-cooled applications of a smaller scale.

“IMEC is developing ice thermal storage for district cooling applications to help control commercial cooling costs,” said IMEC executive director Aslan Al-Barazi.

The technology is gaining increasing popularity in the region, partly due to new DEWA legislation requiring district cooling providers to use 20% thermal energy storage from their total project load capacity (the options being either water or ice thermal storage).

“There are many other benefits in using ice thermal storage. These include the advantages of peak design cost assessment, energy and space savings and emergency cooling in case of power failure, as well as taking advantage of day/night tariffs when these eventually come into play,” said Al-Barazi.

IMEC is the exclusive representative for Fafco SA from Switzerland, which manufactures an ice storage system using static tanks to make ice at night by means of the charging process of an ice chiller. It then discharges the cooling load through the ice tank during the high on-peak rate period in the daytime. The system also allows project engineers to achieve colder chilled water supply temperatures for special types of project applications.

“The Fafco system design is based on a 100% corrosion-free ice thermal storage tank utilising polypropylene plastic tube heat exchangers with stainless steel hardware for all components in touch with the water in a concrete tank. The heat exchangers, situated on top of the tank, are easy to maintain and deliver maximum thermal performance with minimum glycol content,” said Al-Barazi.

“Ice thermal storage is well-proven in district cooling applications in Europe and the US, which means the UAE has access to a vast pool of international data and experience. The increasing need to conserve electricity and water resources means that this is an ideal technology to expand the scope of district cooling in meeting the region’s rising cooling needs,” he comments.

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