A Norwegian project: Snow for the future

An independent research organisation and a Norwegian university are developing a heat pump system to produce snow, even if the temperature are above freezing.
In Norway, skiing is not only a sport, it is a centuries-old tradition. It is the reason why the Norwegian Ministry of Culture decided to offer the SINTEF research institute and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) a NOK 2.3 million grant (EUR 250.000) to develop a new approach of snow making. Indeed, the current advances in snow making consisting in spraying droplets of water in cold air with snow cannons will probably not be efficient enough in a few years because of the global warming: if temperatures are above freezing, this traditional system will no longer work.

The SINTEF and NTNU project, entitled Snow for the future, relies on heat pumps. The cold side of the heat pump would be used to produce snow, while the heat generated would be used to heat indoor facilities nearby the slopes at a very low cost, according to Petter Nekså, chief scientist in SINTEF. This “virtually cost-free” approach involves adapting current heat pump technology. The researchers will also have to develop new ways of storing artificial snow. Sawdust is currently used but it is not efficient enough over time.

The Norwegian Ski Federation also collaborates on the project, hoping the results will boost ski sports.

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