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NHL, Chemours continue to promote sustainable rink solutions

Avalanche first team in League to upgrade to Opteon, non-ozone depleting refrigerant

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

The NHL and Chemours are doing their part to promote sustainable rink solutions across hockey at all levels in North America.

Opteon, the official refrigerant solution of the NHL and a sustainable refrigerant alternative for ice refrigeration chiller systems, has been a big part of the NHL's focus on sustainability.

"We found that many of the rinks in North America have aging and inefficient ice refrigeration systems," Omar Mitchell, vice president of sustainable growth and infrastructure with the NHL said. "Partnering with Chemours, with their Opteon line of refrigerants, as well as their network of OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) partners, rink application specialists, and engineering and design experts has been instrumental in addressing these industry needs."

Recently, the Colorado Avalanche was the first NHL team to upgrade their rink refrigerant to Opteon, which, in addition to being a non-ozone depleting refrigerant, is safe and cost-effective. It's one way that ice rinks can become more sustainable. The upgrade was completed in August.

"Since upgrading to the new low GWP Opteon refrigerant we've reduced our arena's environmental footprint while maintaining our dependable performance. It was a pretty easy decision to make the switch," Craig Smith, senior director of engineering at Pepsi Center said. "Operationally, based on the data collected and our direct observations, Opteon has performed flawlessly and exactly as expected."

Based on the Pepsi Center success, other NHL facilities may consider the Opteon family of refrigerants.

"As a recreational player, former ice resurface driver, and current fan, I know firsthand how important high-quality ice sheets are to the game of hockey," Derek Ramsay, business development leader with Chemours said.

Prior to the season, Calumet Colosseum in Calumet, Michigan, winner of Kraft Hockeyville USA 2019, chose to retrofit their existing ice refrigeration system to a new Opteon refrigerant system as part of their facility upgrades. After doing their diligence on multiple refrigerant systems, Calumet Colosseum decided that the Opteon line of Hydrofluoroolefin (HFO)-based refrigerants was the best option for their chiller retrofit because it offered a safe, reliable and cost-effective solution for their rink and community.

"Critical to our partnership with the NHL is assuring sustainable infrastructure for all the places and spaces hockey is played, from brand new, world-class arenas hosting tens of thousands of guests to local, small-town rinks that serve as community hubs, and every ice facility in between," Chuck Allgood, PhD, Refrigerants Technology Leader with Chemours said. 

Opteon refrigerant solutions like R-449A can replace ozone depleting R-22 refrigerant or high global warming potential R-507 while maintaining the current chiller system hardware. However, for new rink construction, and/or total system replacement, other, even lower GWP Opteon™ refrigerants like R-513A offer safe, cost-effective, regulatory compliant, and environmentally sustainable options.

"The partnership is about connecting the local rinks with not only the Chemours refrigerant experts, but also with leading engineering design firms, chiller equipment manufacturers and mechanical contractors to inform and educate," Allgood said. "This will enable every facility, large or small, to choose the best option for their unique circumstances, allowing continued sustainable operation and serving their local hockey communities for decades to come."

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