Click above for gallery of the IceCat in action
Growing up in Canada, every kid knows what the Zamboni is. But for the poor, deprived children of warmer climes, we'll fill you in. It's not a lunch meat or a pastry you'd find in Little Italy, but the ice resurfacing machine you see put-putting around the rink before, after and in the middle of hockey games. Created by Frank Zamboni in 1949, the company's pretty much had a monopoly on the market ever since. But the times, as Bob Dylan sang from the penalty box, they are a-changin'.
Toronto, Canada's largest city, is slowly phasing out their Zambonis in favor of Finnish-made IceCats (pictured above). So is the National Hockey League. And the reason is carbon monoxide: while the Zambonis run on propane or natural gas, the IceCats are all-electric. In an indoor arena, that can make all the difference: it's no big surprise to read that a study in the American Journal of Public Health determined that replacing carbon-emitting resurfacing machines with electric ones would reduce the concentration of nitrogen dioxide in indoor arenas by 87%, except to wonder where the other thirteen percent is coming from (flatulent spectators?). At a whopping $160,000 apiece – twice the price of a new Zamboni when many skating rinks already have their own – the IceCats aren't cheap (there are only four in all of Canada), but with carbon emissions on everybody's minds, Zamboni may get beaten