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SCC + NH3 - The new chiller plant

sccnh3 500x500You may have seen this image in the ice, or on beer mats, or elsewhere around the club.  What does it mean?

In 2019, SCC purchased and installed a new chiller plant.  The chiller plant is responsible for the cooling to create and maintain the ice for play.  The old chiller plant used ammonia as the primary coolant.  Two enormous red compressors, studded with valves and dials fit for a movie set, compressed this ammonia which was then used in a heat exchanger to cool a salty brine.  This chilled brine was pumped through pipes buried in sand throughout the play area.  The system was ancient, inefficient, dangerous, and failed frequently.

The new, more modern system uses modern refrigerants instead of ammonia, and sits in a plain metal box outside the club building.  It's similar to the unit any office buliding might use for air conditioning, and any competent refrigeration technician can maintain it.  It chills glycol, which is pumped through "mats" made of plastic pipes that are laid on top of a plastic liner covering the existing sand base.

Installing the new system required a massive effort from many, many club members.  In the ice shed: dig up all of the old piping and much of the sand, grade the sand to drain toward the home end of the ice shed, lay out the liner over the sand.  In the equiment room: drain, demolish, and remove all of the ammonia and brine equipment; level and repair the concrete floor; install a pad and electric service for the new chiller; and connect that chiller to the mats.  All over one summer.

We designed this image to commemorate the effort.

  • FRICK - The round shape and logo are based on the heavy steel access panels on the original compressors.
  • SCC + NH3 - NH3 is the chemical formula for ammonia
  • 1925 - 2019 - Our best understanding is that these compressors were installed here in 1925.  They were probably purchased used at that time!
  • Chicks - These chicks come from the story of the Little Red Hen.  This story has long been symbolic of the ice committee.  The little red hen finds a grain of wheat, and decides to plant it to make some bread.  At each stage of the process -- planting, harvesting, milling, baking -- her friends refused to help her.  When it came time to eat the bread, her friends were all too eager to share the fruits of her work, but she refused.


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Schenectady Curling Club
1084 Balltown Rd
Schenectady, NY 12309
(518) 372-4063
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