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Conventional ice rinks are using up a lot of electricity and water (around the same energy per 1m2 like a small appartment) so that running ice skating rinks are more and more considered environmentally irresponsible. So the latest invention are so called synthetic ice rinks, or also called plastic ice rinks, artificial ice rinks. It is in the most cases plastic based material on which skaters can skate with regular skates and so saving all the energy which is used with conventional ice. Studying the market, not all synthetic ice producers are 100% ecological since they use plastics which are not recyclable and a lot use a gliding liquid based on glycol, which is toxic and harmful to the environment. We have identified a few producers which are truly ecological, among them is Xtraice, http://www.xtraice.com , which alleges to have a 100% ecological product. They use for example a gliding liquid which is based on silicon, which is not toxic http://www.xtraice.com/contenidos.ph...Product&idm=46 . The quality of such synthetic ice rinks vary and still the friction is high with some of these products, which kills the skate blades. The consequences are increased need of sharpening, which again needs resources and is costly. Some products need sharpening every 2 hours!!!! Again XTRAICE seems to be the leader with average sharpening of only once a week (still more than regular ice, but much better than any other producers in the market). The Xtraice surface some experts say is what currently comes closest to real ice in terms of gliding ability.
So there is the question if synthetic ice will be able to replace conventional ice? The author believes that synthetic or also called ecological ice (depending on the producers) will replace a big part of conventional ice rinks, especially in the recreational area, since it has many advantages over real ice, apart from the environment friendliness (constant sliding level, resurfacing not needed, less injuries, people don't get wet, ease of dismounting and transport etc.). Also, these new ice rinks can be installed in any climate and so skating made available to people who have never seen snow in their life!!! The beforementioned company Xtraice claims to have over 86 rinks in over 23 countries and in places as exotic as Colombia, Saudi Arabia etc.!!!! It is interesting to see how this idea develop and how the markets and end-users will respond... It would be interesting to hear what other users experience...
Last edited by Icexpert; 03-28-2009 at 08:00 PM.
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