How the Huntsville Ice Complex keeps icy cool in summer months

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With sweltering temperatures outside, how does the coolest place in Huntsville stay cool?

The Benton H. Wilcoxon Municipal Ice Complex is home to two NHL official rinks, and keeping the ice frozen is a 24/7 job.

“Humidity and temperature inside and out, we have to keep track of all of that.” Explains Ice Complex Operations Manager, Don Husser.

Husser is constantly monitoring the weather outside to make certain the ice doesn’t turn to slush inside.

“We have six compressors and four pumps that pump fluid underneath the ice.” Said Husser.

Beneath each rink sits two miles of pipes. These pipes carry methanol that regulates the ice and pulls away heat from the rink. The temperature of the methanol is constantly changing, going in the pipes at 17 degrees, and coming out at 19 degrees.

“As the ice gets warmer it automatically changes pumps to a larger pump,” Explains Husser. “From there it pumps more fluid though the ice.”

The surface temperature must stay between 18-24 degrees, once it hits 25 it only takes five hours for the rink to be destroyed.

“As soon as the first people open the doors and come in we start lowering the temperature of the ice. We just keeping an eye on everything.” Tells Husser.

When you are in the rink itself there is no AC, in fact there are only heaters and dehumidifiers. Ideally humidity stays around 50%, but with scorching summer rays outside, the humidity reaches 65% in summer months.

So next time you’re looking to escape blazing temperatures with a little time on the ice, remember, it takes a hefty utility bill and much attention to keep you skating smooth.

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