Keep your cool with ice cubes

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Oh, it’s so nice to be cool. That’s what people thought even before Willis Carrier produced the first air conditioning system in 1902.
A Roman emperor ordered that snow be brought to his garden and formed into mounds so that natural breezes might be cooled.
That’s an early item in “A History of Comfort Cooling Using Ice” by Bernard Nagengast – one of a series of articles from “The First Century of Air Conditioning.”

Nagengast writes about a hospital cooling system proposed in 1864 that used ice to cool water in pipes that ran through it – the cool water was sprayed into the hospital’s rooms.

A little later, he describes an “improved air cooling apparatus.” It would have “ice holders” set in a “tortuous” passage through which air would be blown so as to cool it.

In 1880, in New York’s Madison Square Theater, a centrifugal fan was used to blow fresh air over two tons of ice and through ductwork into various openings that poured the cool air into the theater.The system used about four tons of ice per summer evening performance.

Another system was designed in 1889 for the Carnegie Music Hall.

And the Broadway Theater in New York used an ice-cooled ventilating system for at least 10 years
In 1907, a theater in Indianapolis brought the temperature down from 84 degrees to 70 degrees, using about 20 tons per performance. But it took four ice men to haul the ice to the building “as fast as they could go.”

When mechanical refrigeration was developed, ice cooling systems began to be replaced by air conditioning systems.

But ice is making a comeback. Here’s a headline from an Associated press story by Colleen Long, published on July 15, 2007: ”System Relies on Ice to Chill Buildings.”

According to the report, the ice-cooling systems save the companies money and reduce the strain on the electrical grid – which is being pushed to the limit in New York City. One system saves, per year, the amount of electricity used by about 200 homes.

How do they do it? One example is the Credit Suisse offices in the Metropolitan Life tower.

At night, when the energy demand is less, they use electricity to freeze 64 800-gallon tanks of water into 64 huge blocks of ice.
Then, in the day, those 211 tons of ice give off their cool into the air that’s then piped through almost 2 million square feet of the building .

The story reports that “ice storage” can be used either as the only cooling system or can be combined with “traditional” systems.
However, without air conditioning, the paperwork in the ice-cooled offices might be a little damp – since ice-cooling doesn’t do what air conditioning does: Reduce the humidity.

Swamp coolers, by the way, don’t reduce the humidity either.

Chelle Delaney is associate publisher of the Quay County Sun. She may be reached by calling 461-1952 or by emaling: