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Ice storage manufacturer Calmac acquired by Ingersoll Rand subsidiary

An existing Calmac / Trane project in Colorado. Image: Calmac Facebook page.

Calmac, a provider of ice-creating thermal energy storage systems – and ice rinks – has been bought out by a subsidiary of major US manufacturer Ingersoll Rand.

Established by Calvin ‘Cal’ MacCracken, a prolific inventor, in 1947, developing among other things a low-cost solution for laying ice on ice rinks and a rotary hot dog grill, the company has in recent years shifted much of its focus to solar and then subsequently to IceBank, storing energy in tanks to provide low cost cooling for buildings.

According to Calmac, it has deployed over 1GW of IceBank systems globally to date, to customers that include Goldman Sachs, IBM, IKEA and the Rockefeller Center. Calmac claims that a school district in South Florida has been able to reduce annual energy bills from US$12 million to US$7 million by using IceBank energy storage to complement its air-conditioning systems. The technology has the advantage of reducing grid energy use by 35%, leading to a corresponding reduction in the need for gas peaker plants.  

On 1 November, the company changed hands and its acquisition by Trane, an Ingersoll Rand company active in ventilation, heating systems and air-conditioning, was closed. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed by either party.

Currently, Calmac’s cooling storage is used by Trane in heating, venting and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems to “take pressure off of the energy grid”, Trane said in a statement. Calmac’s cooling technology is used to reduce temperatures at times such as evening or afternoon peaks when the cost of electricity from the grid is high.

Calmac CEO Mark MacCracken, son of Cal, said that “support and investment” from Trane and Ingersoll Rand could expand the “availability and distribution of our products, serving new and existing customers with the energy storage and ice solutions they demand”.

Calmac, which counts Ice Energy, Viking Cold and Axiom Energy as direct competitors in the same field, also said that all employees will be retained to work for Trane, with MacCracken set to continue with the company as president.

The most recent high-profile acquisition of an energy storage provider was perhaps the purchase of German-American system integrator Younicos by Scotland-headquartered diesel genset and off-grid power provider Agrekko for around US$40 million.