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Discussion Starter #1
I've been wondering if a person could freeze a large (25' square) area of ground down to 15' or more and then use that cold area to cool a frig throughout the summer.

My thought was to jet in a grid of pvc pipe down to 10-12'. Then in the winter you take the cap off the top of each pipe and allow the frigid air to drop to the bottom freezing the entire area. The ground would be insulated with foam board or straw each spring to protect it from the summer heat.

Then you could run loops of saline down into the pipes to chill the saline before running it into a super insulated box.

A contractor told me of digging a ditch across a person's yard one winter. The heavy snow kept the frost very shallow but where a deer had walked across the yard the frost was 5' deep.
 

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Sounds a little bit like an underground icehouse.

Some will depend on just how cold it gets in the wintertime. In your location, you'd probably do very well. I suspect getting down towards the Mason Dixon line and below, the results wouldn't be so great.
 

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The short answer is no. Not with any degree of practicality.

Dissect what you are proposing and you will quickly realize that you are quasi-equating insulation and ground depth and mass.

Is it possible to construct an insulated box that will have sufficient R value to keep a mass of ice through the summer? Yes. Is it possible to bury it? Yes. Is it PRACTICAL? No.

The insulation provided by soil varies, but isn't terribly great in general. If you were to go up into Smugglers Notch in Vermont, there is a rock formation called the natural refrigerator. The notch is protected from a lot of solar radiation, and snow and ice can drift into the formation keeping it cool. Even with all that going for it, the effect is pretty much gone by the end of July or some point in August.

Icehouses work because of highly effective insulation (typically a LOT of straw was used) and the property of ice is that there is a huge energy requirement to transition ice into water. Ice around the perimeter could melt and act as a buffer to limit heat getting further into the stored ice.
 

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My thought was to jet in a grid of pvc pipe down to 10-12'. Then in the winter you take the cap off the top of each pipe and allow the frigid air to drop to the bottom freezing the entire area. The ground would be insulated with foam board or straw each spring to protect it from the summer heat.
You'd have to line this in-ground box with foam as well, otherwise the heat from the surrounding ground would warm the ground you sunk the pipes into, virtually defeating your efforts.

Add to that, dirt, being far less dense, will hold FAR less cold (or heat) than water....which is why frozen water is a better choice of storage. You could get by with much less volume of ice compared to trying to freeze dirt.

You'd be better off building an icehouse using modern insulation. Sawdust was commonly used in the walls of old icehouses, as it was cheap and readily available. Problem is, it only has an R factor of about 2 per inch....and it has to be pretty dry (and kept that way), or it will actually heat up with composting action....sorta defeating what you want in an ice house.... :D

You can get spray in foam insulation in the R6/inch range...build a house with 8" thick walls/floor/ceiling of that, and you'd have a REAL box !
 

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You'd have to line this in-ground box with foam as well, otherwise the heat from the surrounding ground would warm the ground you sunk the pipes into, virtually defeating your efforts.

Add to that, dirt, being far less dense, will hold FAR less cold (or heat) than water....which is why frozen water is a better choice of storage. You could get by with much less volume of ice compared to trying to freeze dirt.

You'd be better off building an icehouse using modern insulation. Sawdust was commonly used in the walls of old icehouses, as it was cheap and readily available. Problem is, it only has an R factor of about 2 per inch....and it has to be pretty dry (and kept that way), or it will actually heat up with composting action....sorta defeating what you want in an ice house.... :D

You can get spray in foam insulation in the R6/inch range...build a house with 8" thick walls/floor/ceiling of that, and you'd have a REAL box !
Seems to me an easy and less expensive way to go is using SIPS up to R40..
 

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My dad owned an ice company. Every year we'd cut 200lb blocks of ice, haul to the ice house (an old converted wooden building) and layer the ice with sawdust. We sold it to picnics all summer long, the biggest was 20-30 ton to Iola Old Car show every year.

As we pulled the blocks out to the conveyor to load for customers, we'd rinse them off with an old pumper truck.

Ah, memories.

The idea of freezing the ground sounds good theoretically, but it isn't practical.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
There is a point where you have enough frozen ground to last the summer and fall at least in the center even if it's surrounded by 50 F soil. It wouldn't take much effort to freeze the ground once the PVC pipe is installed. Just open the tops of the pipe and let the -20 F air drop to the bottom and start freezing the surrounding soil.
 

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One thing you're missing with freezing soil is the factor built into water that requires a lot of energy to go from ice to liquid. Adding a little salt to the water would lower the freeze point as well, which might be an advantage.

Just a thought.

I owned an old ice house at one time. It was no longer used as one when I bought it but I do remember the roof being several feet thick and made largely of what seemed like Styrofoam and the walls being very thick as well.

If a person lived in an area where they could make ice well over the winter, I can't see why a person couldn't have their own ice house, either above or below ground level. Kinda of a cool idea, actually. (pun intended)

:)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
You could fill it with water instead of hauling 200 lb blocks of ice to it.

I read an article of a guy who built a super insulated chamber on the side of his house (second floor). It was filled with water and frozen during the winter. Supposedly the ice block in it lasted all summer. A tube ran from the fridge to the block of ice and back.
 

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This what you where talking about fish?

http://fourmileisland.com/IceBox.htm

I think your game plan is not to bad in theory.

But needs much refinement.

Rather then force air to freeze your mass, use water.

Lower the freezing point and use a boiler pump to circulate it through a mass of pipes.

I would pass on ground or soil for you cold storage though and just use water.

Water is your best option for heat or cold storage.

Everyone's always gungho for a thick covering of insulation, but I think your better off using thinner layers of insulation separated with a air gap. for instance 13 , 1" sheets of foam with 1" air gaps between. give you 2' of insulated wall.
Providing a far greater Insulating ability then just the 13 sheets alone and at a lower cost.
But it you then also had a foil on the exterior and a bank of earth around it. I have to think that would do what you wanted.
 

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The icehouse idea sounds better to me. If it were me, I would build a house with two components - one small area would be for storage of your food with receptacle for the ice. The other large area would be a large super-insulated ice house to hold your large chunks of ice. Basically, this would be a modern version of the old ice-house and indoor ice-box of old, except using modern building and insulating materials. One could even build this on to ones house, so the food-ice-box portion was accessible from within, yet the ice-storing and ice-feeding was accessible from outside so you were not hauling ice blocks. Then either cut and haul ice from a lake - or maybe freeze your own by filling containers (kind of like what was posted). Sounds like a lot of work, but if you are off the grid it might be worthwhile.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
That was similar to the frig that I read about a long time ago.
 

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Somewhere on youtube is a video of a homemade ice house. If I remember right, I typed in off grid refrigeration and found it. He had a super insulated building, and a regular refrigerator recessed in the outside wall. They had drilled holes in the back of the fridge for the cold air to leak.In the winter they filled it with ice. Pretty cool, and no electricity!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
If 1,000 to 2,000 lbs of ice can last all summer in a super insulated box why couldn't 200 (8 yd x 8 yd x 3 yd) ton of soil stay cold all summer when surrounded on the bottom and sides with 50 degree soil?

As far as freezing it that only takes removing the caps on the tubes and the subzero winter air does the rest.
 

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unless one has deep pockets, I really can not see the economics of this idea,

I just bought a chest freezer, about $600, with a $120 rebate from the utility company for a total of $480 and the energy tag claims it will run on about $60 a year,

now to sink pipe and dig and line a hole and buy insulation, my guess is your costs would be more than $600, in materails,

and unless you just need a off grid system seems like a complicated way of getting some cool,
 

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Discussion Starter #17
The pipes would be sunk by jetting them into the ground. There would be no insulation other than maybe some straw on top of the ground.

It would be independent of the electrical grid once built. A small solar powered pump would provide the circulation of the coolant. A person could also sink a box into the center of the area for long term storage.
 
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