Well, Canada’s 5th season as Scotia Bank likes to call the hockey months, is officially behind us. I feel a little lost on Saturday mornings without having to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to get my son out the door (okay, let’s be honest, my husband took him to most of the weekend games and practices). I must admit that I enjoyed the “hockey mom” experience more than I thought I would. Sure, it is a huge commitment but Jakob had a great time, made some good friends and you know the rinks will always be warmer than a rainy day out on the soccer field. That being said, hockey is not what it used to be. I come from a hockey family – my grandpa played well into his 70’s and all of my uncles played. Some of them still do but when they started playing it was out on the Canadian prairies in cities like Lloydminster and Edmonton and while they were in the arenas for some games, much of the winter was spent skating on the outdoor rinks, you know, the ones they made in their backyards.
We have come a long way but do you ever think about what goes into creating and maintaining the warm beautiful arenas that we have today? The ice is smooth and well manicured with the help of zambonis (or what do they call them now? Olympias). But did you know that in order to make the ice that smooth they need to heat the water to 70°C or higher? That is because the hotter the water, the fewer the air bubbles. This is important because ice made with air bubbles is extremely fragile and brittle and can crack easily. Consequently, it quickly becomes uneven. That being said, have you ever considered how much water and energy goes into maintaining this smoothness? Rinks use an average of 1.5-1.7 million litres of water each season. Then you need energy to heat that water. This causes quite the conflict for someone like me who is always trying to do my best to practice environmental stewardship by recycling, composting and generally consuming less.
So how can we make hockey more green?
Recently, I read this article in McLean’s Magazine about a new technology called REALice. REALice substantially saves on not only the energy required to heat the water but also the amount of water needed. How you ask? Here is what they said in McLean’s,
“Think about a tornado, how the spinning creates a low-pressure zone and draws everything in toward the centre. That’s what allows us to separate out the micro-bubbles from the water. The ingenuity is the intake holes that are drilled in such a way as to create a multi-faceted vortex inside the valve. There’s no need for any additional energy input or maintenance.”
While even I know that ice quality can be subjective it is said that REALice technology would use reduce the use of compressors, boilers, and dehumidifiers, it would cause less rust on structural beams, use less water and create less waste, reduce natural gas consumption and save rinks $1000-$1200 per month.
I know what you are thinking – this is a lot to take in and is hard to conceptualize so instead of me trying to explain it, I encourage you to check out this video.
**I am part of the REALice Canada blog team working with Thrifty Mom Media to tell this story and as such I have been compensated. My opinion is all my own.