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Heating Up the Icemaking Business

Professor's invention could revolutionize the industry

Technology developed at Thayer School of Engineering is about to revolutionize the $1 billion icemaking business. The invention is called pulse electro-thermal de-icing (PETD), and products equipped with PETD are referred to as Icenabled™.

Victor Petrenko
Victor Petrenko

"An Icenabled™ icemaker will be more productive, more space efficient, more energy efficient, more reliable, and will make ice faster and of higher quality than ever before," says PETD inventor Victor Petrenko, professor of engineering. "In fact, we can safely say that this technology can increase an icemaker's production capacity by 70 percent while decreasing its energy consumption by up to 30 percent."

Commercial icemakers, those notorious energy hogs sitting in hotel hallways, in large restaurants and bars, and in hospitals and military bases, consume enormous amounts of power. They cycle through a process of cooling, to make the ice, and heating, to release the ice, as many as 100 times a day. An Icenabled™ icemaker uses PETD to virtually eliminate the heating portion of the cycle. PETD removes the ice instantly using a short (less than one second), high-power electric pulse. This same technique can also eliminate the need for conventional hot gas defrost systems.

According to Petrenko, Icenabled™ icemakers offer a long list of benefits, including energy efficiency, improved ice quality, increased ice production, reduced manufacturing costs, fewer service calls, and increased compressor life.

"It's exciting to see the quantifiable benefits of this technology realized in icemakers," says Petrenko. "But this is just the beginning."

Petrenko's invention could ultimately transform the entire $40 billion-refrigeration air conditioning industry that, according to Petrenko, has struggled with the challenge of keeping cold evaporator coils free of frost and ice. Dartmouth's PETD technology has proven its ability to de-ice these coils in seconds using a fraction of the energy required by conventional coil defrosters.

"In addition," says Petrenko, "there are many other equally exciting applications for PETD in the works, such as de-icing buildings and bridges, car windshields, airplanes, windmills and ships, and power lines."

Ice Engineering, LLC—a company started by Petrenko in 2001—holds the license for the use of PETD in refrigeration systems and has signed Advanced Refrigeration Technologies (ART) as the exclusive sales distributor of the technology to the refrigeration industry.

Says Tim Durant, CEO of Ice Engineering, "ART's extensive senior level relationships and broad experience in the refrigeration industry will provide the exposure and strategic execution necessary to bring the technology to market."

"The refrigeration industry has not seen an innovation of this magnitude in decades," says Mark Hangen, managing partner of ART. "As we have begun to speak with the major manufacturers in this industry it is clear that this technology will change the industry for the foreseeable future."

Ice Engineering develops and licenses technology and applications that enable products that interact with ice/snow to perform significantly better than ever before. Petrenko is the primary inventor of the technology. Ice Engineering was founded by Petrenko as a Delaware LLC in April of 2001 to commercialize the technology in specific industries.

By SUSAN KNAPP

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 12/17/08