Delta College uses ice to store energy and save money

Winter’s icy grip may have melted, but at one mid Michigan college, the ice is just starting to take hold on campus.

Delta College, in Bay County, uses a thermal energy storage system to keep campus cool.

Delta buys electricity at night and on weekends when power is cheaper. It stores the energy in the form of 8-foot by 8-foot ice blocks. Then during the day when prices are higher, the melting ice cools campus buildings.

Campus officials say Delta has around 14,000 students.

Larry Ramseyer is the Director of Facilities Management at Delta College. Ramseyer said, most of campus might be unaware of the thermal system.

“To the student and faculty member and anybody visiting campus they don’t know the difference that the campus is being cooled by regular chillers or by ice. They don’t know it. It just transitions from one method to the other,” Ramseyer said.

He said Delta uses both a traditional cooling system – also called chillers- and the thermal energy storage system.

“The ice acts as a cooling system for the fluid that then circulates throughout the building, throughout the campus to be used to provide air conditioning to all of the spaces on campus,” He said.

Ramseyer said Delta has more than 50 ice storage tanks and four chillers.

He said the system saves Delta about $100,000 a year.

Department of Energy Delta College system information