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Ice-cool idea wins SEC-Senoko Power Green Innovation Award

BY Hoe Yeen Nie, Channel NewsAsia
29 March 2007 2028 hrs

SINGAPORE: Generating heat from an ice machine is the idea that bagged local company Omega Thermal its SEC-Senoko Power Green Innovation Award at this year's Singapore Green Summit.

Coffeeshop owner Seah How Chai has been serving hot drinks for the past 30 years.

And for the past two years, the water used for brewing tea is heated by his ice machine.

This is due to a heat recovery system that allows the waste heat generated by the machine to be piped into a water tank.

Less energy is then needed to boil the water as it is already heated.

With the system, waste heat is also removed efficiently from the ice machine so the ice stays colder for a longer period of time.

As a result, Mr Seah saves S$300 to S$400 on bills each month. But the benefits are not just monetary.

Instead of hot stuffy air, the condenser now releases cool air, making it possible for customers to sit comfortably in the coffeeshop.

Omega Thermal, which developed the system, said it was originally developed for use on air-conditioners.

Philip Lee, Manager, Omega Thermal, said: "It was revolutionary when Mr Seah suggested attaching it to an ice-maker. The idea just took off at the back of our heads - 'Why not? Let's give it a try!'."

And it was this idea that helped the SME win the SEC-Senoko Power Green Innovation Award.

But things were not easy at the beginning.

Mr Lee said: "The chief obstacle was not so much the physical aspect. It was more of a mental acceptance, psychological acceptance from people who find this a radical departure from their normal way of using electricity to heat up water.

"You can make the best product in the world but if there's no market demand for it, you'll still be back to square one".

Each system costs about S$2,000 and takes two hours to install.

So far, serviced apartments and condominiums form the bulk of Omega Thermal's clientele, but it is confident the technology will also take off among smaller businesses like Mr Seah's.

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