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Ice Pond Refinement
So simple! So elegant! and yet not widely used. Here is an idea to make ice ponds more commercially attractive.
The ice pond is not a new idea. It's based on the fact that ice,
harvested during the winter and stored cheaply, takes a
long time to melt, and so can be profitably sold in summer. This
used to be big business in the 1800's, with New England ice
as far away as Calcutta.
More recently it's been proposed as a cheaper way to air-
condition large buildings: set up a ski-resort-type snowmaking
machine in winter, to make a big pile of snow, cover it in cheap
insulation, and, in summer, trickle water through it, yielding a
supply of chilled water for air conditioning. This has been piloted
successfully (see links 2 & 3).
Around here, shopping malls & such have really large parking lots.
In winter, they're kept clear of snow by plowing -- often with
bulldozers, backhoes & the like. Huge piles of snow sit at the
of these lots long into spring, protected by their low surface-to-
I propose that pits be dug at these lots, and the snow plowed
into these pits. A diversion from the chilled-water circuit of the
mall's air conditioning plant should be run to a heat exchanger in
pit (a skein of PVC pipe might work, but if not, more sophisticated
systems are available (see link 4)). Fencing would be needed, and
also, I think, a sump or bilge with connection to the storm drains.
Neither capacity nor reliability need be all that high: the system's
only intended to supplement conventional air conditioning,
The system is perhaps best suited to airports. Wide, straight
are easier to plow; specialized snow-moving equipment is already
use, on an aggressive schedule; there's no sand or salt added to
snow; there's plenty of surrounding land for ice ponds; there's a
large centralized air-conditioning plant nearby; the plant is at
ground level. Also, airports might want a conspicuously "green"
project for PR purposes to offset carbon footprint embarrassment.
_The Frozen Water Trade_ Gavin Weightman, Hyperion, 2003 [mouseposture, Jan 10 2010]
Yes, that's the title
"Ice Pond" in _Table of Contents_ John McPhee, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1986 [mouseposture, Jan 10 2010]
Online (but read the book. Really. You won't regret it.)
[mouseposture, Jan 10 2010]
What's the opposite of "radiator?"
[mouseposture, Jan 10 2010]
"New Japanese airport will be cooled with snow"
Kudos mouseposture, I stumbled upon your idea in practice :) [EricNutsch, Jun 15 2010]
||I'm wondering how much better or worse pykrete would perform. The ultimate goal here is heat transfer at the right time, so pykrete's insulating factor might not be a good thing... Maybe as an initial liner?
||This is interesting. I hate those mountains of snow
they leave sitting in mall parking lots and such. They
are dangerous. You can't see past them when trying
to leave, it can get really bad quickly. If this were
truly doable, and sustainable, then I think it's a
Hmm, interesting stuff. What could sound sillier than a
wooden aircraft carrier? An aircraft carrier made of
sawdust and water.
||I like the idea of using -- year round, in a temperate
climate -- a construction material which must be kept
below freezing at all times, and perhaps I've inadvertently
invented an excuse for that. I'd been pondering the
problem of keeping the snow in contact with the heat
exchanger, as the pile slumped, with melting. Perhaps, if
the snow were mixed with sawdust, it could form a partly
self-supporting structure. However, you'd need to recover
and recycle the sawdust, reducing the simplicity of the
[blissmiss] Dangerous *and* ugly. By late March, they're
||If I understand this right, the snow is only useful
when the air conditioning is on 'chill' mode rather
than 'heat' mode. If a shopping mall or airport is to
be kept at say 18 deg C, then allowing for heat
generated by people and plant inside the building,
I would guess the 'chill' mode wouldn't be required
until the average outside temperature was around
12 deg C. Shirley by this time the snow would have
melted, even if insulated? I guess it depends on
the local climate, speed of season-shift, and
volume of snow. I know I was surprised at how
quickly my snowman melted this year even though
the temperature was hovering around the 3 deg C
mark by day and below freezing by night. Mind
you, the only insulation he had was a tartan scarf.
||Build the parking lot over top of a series of Bobcat (small tractor) sized tubes, with an open slot at one end. Plow the snow into the slot. Use a bobcat to pack the snow into the far end of the tube. Each tube has a single heat exchanger loop in it's floor, along with a drain. It also has very high R value insulation all the way around. Every time the air temperature is above freezing, cap the end of the ube with several feet of insulation. By the end of a moderately snowy season, you have full tubes which should last all summer if they aren't used, and be a decent supplement to AC. I like it.