Commercial production of flake ice is very popular as it’s economical to make, can be easily automated and conveyed, and most importantly it’s energy efficient. Flake ice is usually extracted from temperature just below zero and can be used for a variety of commercial applications such as fisheries, laboratories, hospitality industry, and food services. Flake ice is great for merchandising presentation and product preservation as well- even large supermarkets utilize ice machines to supply flake ice for their meat and seafood sections.
Flake Ice Machines can be divided into two main categories:
Scale Ice Maker
Scale ice Maker machines produce large, thin and flat pieces of ice that are usually 1-2 mm thick. Most commercial flake ice manufacturers have their own patented auger- type evaporator cylinders. These cylinders can be vertical or horizontal in shape.
In the horizontal shaped cylinder, water is sprayed on the outer surface of the cylinder, which freezes into a thin layer. A spinning auger then chops the ice into thin small flakes. The rotating auger then loosens the ice flakes where it falls over the edges of auger like snow.
In the vertical shaped cylinder, the cylinder is stationary. Water is sprayed on the inner surface of the cylinder which freezes into a thin layer. The harvesting blade is then motor driven around the inner cylinder that cuts the ice into small pieces.
Flake scale ice is made at 7-degree centigrade, to make it brittle and can be stored in a freezer for prolonged storage. Most scale ice machines are in 5 to 30 ton range. Machines less than 5 tons are very expensive to make whereas those about 50 tons or above are physically very large and requires huge space to function efficiently.
Best Uses for Scale Ice:
Commercial fishing- scale ice is mainly used to keep the product fresh and increase the shelf life during transportation, especially in hot climate.
Concrete Cooling industries- concrete is a strong and versatile material that is used in a wide array of commercial and industrial projects. Production of concrete generates large amounts of heat, which when left unchecked, may create problems. Flake scale ice is used as a cooling system as it is energy efficient and easy to work with.
Granular Ice Maker
Granular ice, which is also known as crushed ice, fine ice or micro ice is much smaller ice. Granular ice maker machines create small pieces of coarse ice that has similar cooling characteristics of scale ice, but it’s easier to store as it doesn’t form lumps and can be stored in temperature above zero as well.
It is made in tall, thin cylinders with an auger running axially in the center. A water level is set in the bottom of the cylinder and as ice crystals begin to form, they are carried upwards where they are compressed and frozen until they are ejected from the top as flakes. The size and appearance of the ice can be changed to suit various applications. These machines are usually available from 30 kgs to 1500 kgs.
Best Uses of Granular Ice:
Super Markets & Restaurants- Granular ice is easy to pack and shape and that’s why it is the most popular utility for supermarkets, to display fresh seafood and meat without damaging the product. Salad bars in restaurants also use granular ice to keep their palate and bowls of salad ingredients cool and fresh.
Granular ice is also used in laboratories where it is known as crushed ice.