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R407F becomes Olympic gold

USA: The Herb Brooks Ice Arena in Lake Placid, one of the venues for the 1980 Winter Olympics, is to replace its currently used R22 with the non-ozone-depleting alternative R407F.

Marketed by Honeywell as Genetron Performax LT, R407F was seen as a more cost-effective alternative that provides better performance and long-term savings without requiring significant equipment modifications.

The 7,700-seat multi-purpose Herb Brooks Arena is one of three ice surfaces at the Lake Placid Olympic Centre. It was the venue for one of the most famous matches in US Olympic history when the US beat Russia 4-3 in an historic match known as the Miracle on Ice. The arena’s historic significance draws thousands of US tourists every year, and its three indoor rinks host hundreds of competitions, programmes and events per year, so consistent ice quality is critical.

“We take pride in the reputation of the Herb Brooks Arena and other rinks at the complex, which together provide a huge economic engine for the area,” said Denny Allen, manager of the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA).

“To sustain that reputation and the economy, a primary goal is to meet expectations for ice quality throughout the year,” he added. “To meet that goal—given ageing equipment, growing maintenance costs and changing regulations—required us to take a step back to make the right decisions for the future.”

ORDA engaged mechanical contractor Mollenberg-Betz of Buffalo, NY, to find a replacement for the R22 in its six chillers. Aware that options such as R404A and R507 have high GWPs, face phase-out schedules, impending service bans and compatibility issues, determined that Genetron Performax LT was the best solution.

Although not a low GWP refrigerant – it has a very similar GWP to R22 – R407F can be used in existing R22 systems with a minimum of system alterations.

“The conversion was a lot faster and cheaper than other alternatives that would have required new equipment and major capital investments.” said Tom Borden, ORDA refrigeration technician manager.

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