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Use of Ice Storage to Optimise Air Conditioning Systems Size

Dynamic coverage of peak cooling demand. Seamless integration with the air conditioning system

Efficient solutions for the air conditioning of buildings

Climate change and predicted global warming make efficient solutions for cooling buildings and entire neighbourhoods increasingly important. Energy-efficient air conditioning is now a central component in the design of new buildings. However, conventional air conditioning systems require significant amounts of energy to generate cooling and to provide cooling on hot summer days. They reach their limits when it comes to limiting energy costs and the environmental impact of air conditioning.

Ice storage systems open up new possibilities and savings potential, as they can balance peak cooling demand and, as ice energy storage systems, can also temporarily store surplus energy from renewable energy sources. These and other features make ice storage technology attractive for building air conditioning.

Integrate with building's HVAC

How ice storage systems enable the optimal dimensioning of air conditioning systems while simultaneously reducing energy costs

Buffer storage to take advantage of favourable electricity tariffs

Ice storage tanks act as thermal buffers. They use the physical properties of water and ice to store excess energy that can later be used to cool buildings when needed. They can be charged with cheap off-peak electricity or surplus solar and wind power. Water is frozen into ice, thereby storing energy. During the day, when cooling demand is high, the melted ice is used to cool buildings. The ice buffer storage system reduces the need to generate large amounts of additional energy at times of high cooling demand and unfavourable chiller operating figures to ensure the cooling supply for the air conditioning system. Instead, stored cold generated at more favourable electricity tariffs is used. The chillers can be sized for average demand.

Easing the burden on electricity grids

The ability of ice energy storage systems to temporarily store energy when capacity exceeds demand not only provides benefits to consumers, but also helps to relieve the pressure on the electricity grid during peak periods and supports a more stable energy supply overall. As the share of renewable energy in the electricity supply increases, ice energy storage systems will be able to better absorb load fluctuations.


Ecological footprint and energy transition

However, the use of ice as a cold storage for building air conditioning does not only bring the above-mentioned, primarily financial benefits. By increasing energy efficiency and reducing electricity consumption, ice storage systems contribute directly to the reduction of CO2 emissions. Using surplus renewable energy to produce ice not only reduces dependence on fossil fuels, but also minimises the overall environmental impact of air conditioning in buildings. This is an important consideration in the context of increased environmental requirements for new construction projects and a strong argument when bidding for public works projects.


Operating costs

Ice storage systems generally have a longer service life than conventional cooling technology for air conditioning buildings. With fewer moving parts and mechanical components, air conditioning systems using ice banks generally require less maintenance, have less downtime and have a longer service life. Features that have a positive impact on the running costs of air conditioning.


Integration and flexibility

Ice storage units can be easily integrated into existing air conditioning technology to improve the energy balance or they can be planned as an integral part of the cooling supply for modern, energy-saving air conditioning systems in new buildings. They are used in the air conditioning of office buildings, residential complexes, hospitals, schools and in the cooling of industrial production. By integrating the storage units into cooling centres, even entire districts can be efficiently air-conditioned via a cooling network.


Optimal interaction with surface cooling

Surface cooling systems, which are usually installed as ceiling heating/cooling systems and provide buildings with a comfortable indoor climate all year round, work particularly well with the ice storage system because these systems use cooling temperatures that are only slightly below room temperature to provide indoor climate control. This extends the period during which the ice storage can provide cooling to rooms.


sp.ICE - Highly dynamic charging for air conditioning peak loads

The increase in the number of summer days with peak temperatures above 30°C poses a particular challenge for building air conditioning. On the one hand, the cooling demand must also be covered on these days, but on the other hand, even in particularly warm summers such as 2022, such daily highs will only be reached on 18-20 days.

The sp.ICE ice storage system has been designed to meet exactly this requirement profile. Rapid storage of energy in ice and rapid release of cold when additional energy is required. A patented heat exchanger with capillary tube technology ensures dynamic charging and discharging.

The modular design offers solutions for air conditioning individual buildings, but also for building up sufficient capacity to supply cooling networks. Seamless integration into existing air conditioning systems has been successfully implemented in projects for Merck and the office headquarters of Materna TMT GmbH.

Our engineers not only supply project-specific ice storage systems and provide integration support, but also develop complete cooling concepts.

Materna TMT GmbH develops and sells software solutions for education and change management and employs around 80 people.

Read our project report to find out how the integration of 3 ice storage units with a combined capacity of 11 MWH has affected the performance and energy consumption of the office building's air conditioning system.


Project report