Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How Icemakers Work


Flake Icemakers

In the last section, we looked at a standard cube icemaker design. Flake icemakers work on the same basic principle as cube icemakers, but they have an additional component: the ice crusher. You can see how a typical flake system works in the diagram below.

This content is not compatible on this device.

Like the cube icemaker design we examined in the last section, this machine uses a set of heat-exchanging coils and a stream of water to build up a layer of ice. But in this system, the coils are positioned inside a large metal cylinder. Water passes through the cylinder, as well as around its outer edges. The passing water gradually builds up a large column of ice surrounding the cylinder from the inside and outside.

As with a cube icemaker, a solenoid valve releases hot gas into the cooling pipes after a set length of time. This loosens the ice column so it falls into the ice crusher below. The ice crusher breaks the ice cylinder into small pieces, which pass on to a collection bin.

The size of the ice bits depends on the crusher mechanism. Some crushers grind the ice into fine flakes, while other crushers produce larger, irregularly shaped ice chunks.

There are many variations on these designs, but the basic idea in all of them is the same. A refrigeration system builds up a layer of ice, and a harvesting system ejects the ice into a collection bin. At the most basic level, this is all there is to any icemaker.

For more information on icemakers and related topics, check out the links on the next page.


More to Explore