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Premium ice for half the cost at Umeå Arena

In the early 1960s, a tin shed built for lumber storage was transformed into an ice arena with artificially frozen ice. At the beginning of the 1980s, a rebuild and expansion was carried out and an additional indoor ice rink was created. When IF Björklöven bought the arena from the Municipality of Umeå it was in poor condition, but a determination to successively improve the arena has led to the energy costs being slashed by half.

When IF Björklöven bought the ice arena from the Municipality of Umeå in 2000, it was old and run down. The cost of keeping the ice machines running eight months of the year and at the same time heating the arena added up to SEK 3–4 million annually. When you are dealing with an ice arena, the crux is that you need adequate cold to get good ice, but you also need to keep it reasonably warm and comfortable for spectators. This is further complicated by the fact that it takes three days for the rink to adjust after changes in the weather, which often includes temperature differences of 10-12 °C from one day to the next. 

Furthermore, the arena is used for other activities, ranging from various corporate events to rock concerts. This demands rapid and extensive rerigging and adjustment of the ventilation. A few days later it may be time for a hockey match again, and by then the ice needs to be restored to perfect condition. 

Successive improvements in the arena have led to a halving of the energy cost and better comfort for the spectators.

ÅF’s assignment

Upgrading of the energy system to reduce the energy cost by at least 40%, if possible.


The refrigeration equipment was old, and was therefore replaced by two new refrigeration compressors, one of which is for heat recovery. The coolant tubes in the rink were left in place, but it was necessary to replace pipes and three old pumps that were constantly running at maximum capacity. The new pumps run only as needed, are frequency-controlled and together consume less energy than one of the old pumps. The old control system was hardly worthy of the name, since the interplay between the different parameters was nonexistent. The challenge was to keep the cold and heat apart.

By angling the ventilation devices that previously blew warm air straight over the ice, the air is now directed over the stands. The ventilation system was rebuilt and the old dasher boards were replaced and insulated with higher glass to further separate cold and warm zones. The sensitivity of the ice climate can be illustrated by the fact that an open door to the players’ bench leads to an inflow of warm air that affects the ice. 

Previously, 3 tonnes of ammonia were needed as refrigerant. Today, 150 kg is sufficient and an environmentally-friendly salt solution compensates for the rest. To produce good ice, water with a temperature of 35-40 °C is used. The water is heated with recovered energy from the refrigeration compressors.


ÅF guaranteed a reduction by 40%, anticipated 50% and believed that 60% was not impossible. 50% was reached in the spring of 2009, and the energy efficiency optimization is continuing.

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