Ice making dates back to the 19th Century when an American Alexander Twining who developed the first commercial ice maker. This invention is what has led to the development and production of ice makers over the centuries.
As technology has advanced over the years, the mechanical construction and structure of ice making machines have also improved over the years. This has seen a lot of improvement as demand has also increased leading to mass production of ice making machines or ice generators. This article delves into the ice making industry and the potential for growth in the industry.
How an Ice Making Machine Works
While you might think ice making is as simple as pouring water into a mold and leaving it in the freezer, ice making machines have an automated system that freezes water in an automatic fashion. Although ice makers will differ in design and make, the mechanism used in making ice is always similar for most ice making machines. Each ice making machine will have an evaporator, a condenser, a compressor, and a throttle valve.
First, the compressor compresses low-pressure vapor into high-pressure vapor and channels it to the condenser where it is condensed into a high-pressure liquid. It is then drained via the throttle valve where it is converted to low-pressure liquid. Afterward, it goes to the evaporator where the heat is transferred and ice is created from the remaining liquid.
Types of Ice Makers
Ice makers come in different designs and for different uses. There are ice makers for commercial applications while others are for domestic or small scale use.
Portable ice makers
These are the smallest kind of ice makers. These are basically for convenience and can be used for both small scale commercial purposes such as a small bar or for domestic purposes at home. They can comfortably fit on a countertop or on a table.
Freezer ice makers
These are the icemakers you find inside your refrigerator in the freezing compartment. They come inbuilt in the refrigerator.
Under-counter/Built-in ice makers
Built-in ice makers are much bigger than portable ice makers but they are small enough to fit in between cabinets or counters. Their installation is supposed to fit into the structure of whichever place they are being installed.
What separates an inbuilt ice maker and a portable ice maker is the size and the fact that an inbuilt ice maker cannot be moved once it is installed. Otherwise, their working mechanism is quite similar.
Modular ice-making machines
Modular ice making machines are preferable for use in commercial spaces such as bars, restaurants or hospitals. They are larger and produce ice in much larger quantities than other ice making machines.
Since the ice produced will be more than those produced by under-counter or portable ice cubes, modular ice makers usually require a separate collection container to keep the ice as they are produced.
Block ice-making machines
Block ice making machines are quite popular in tropical countries because they do not easily melt. A block ice making machine will take much longer to generate ice since blocks of ice are larger and more compact. In block ice making, containers are filled with water then immersed in a larger container or tank containing sodium or brine. Sodium or brine is meant to lower the temperature of the containers and in turn the water inside the container.
The water is then cooled down below freezing point, making ice blocks so compact and solid that it won’t easily melt. Transportation also becomes easier. This is why they are most popular in tropical countries. For instance, block ice making machine in India would be useful for making ice to store and transport fish say from the coastal region to the inland areas. These ice blocks will stay longer without melting because they are made under extremely low temperatures.
Global Implications of Ice Making Machines
Ice making and ice making machines have made a remarkable impact on many industries. Refrigeration is required in different industries for preservation. Additionally, the industry has made a significant impact on other sectors of society.
This is probably where ice making is most applicable. Ice blocks or ice flakes are used to preserve both fresh food and prepared food. In the fishing industry, for instance, fishermen harvest fish from the ocean and use ice blocks to preserve their fish before they reach their ultimate destinations or consumers.
In the health industry, ice and refrigeration are used in the preservation of some medicine. Additionally, refrigeration is also required in the preservation of medical applications such as organs, blood, stem cells, semen among others.
The manufacture and development of ice making machines have had a positive impact on the economies of different countries by employing millions of people and improving their living standards significantly. Additionally, these industries bring infrastructural development to the regions where they are located.
The Future of Ice Making Machines
Even with the growing demand for ice and ice making machines, it is still proving a challenge for consumers to invest in ice making machines because the costs are not really favorable. The initial investment costs are very high because a lot of infrastructures are required to make and install ice making machines, especially for commercial use. However, as the demand grows, it is the hope of consumers that the prices will go down and stabilize so that they are more affordable for consumers.
Ice making is growing rapidly and various ice making machine manufacturers are also coming up. China, being a leading global manufacturer of ice making machines, has a myriad of different manufacturers producing a wide range of industry-specific ice making machines to meet the growing demand. Whether you want a large capacity ice maker or small capacity ice maker, flake ice maker or block ice maker, you will definitely find these available with Chinese manufacturers. Most commercial consumers source their ice making machines from Chinese manufacturers since they have the capacity to ship them in without a hassle.
The ice making industries heavily rely on other industries to stay afloat, meaning if these industries collapse, the ice making industry might also follow suit. However, this is very unlikely, because the industries that require ice making and refrigeration are constantly growing. This means that ice making is here to stay.