Roland Piquepaille's Technology Trends
How new technologies are modifying our way of life

mardi 29 juillet 2003

In this article, the Boston Globe reports that a small ski resort in Plymouth, N.H., Tenney Mountain, opened for a Fourth of July weekend of snow fun.

How did they got snow in the summer? They used a technology developed in Japan, named Infinite Crystal Snowmaking (ICS). This is not a new technology. It has been used in Japan and in Europe for years to extend ski seasons. But it's the first time it's deployed in the U.S. Here is how it works.

Here's how traditional snow making works. During the winter, when the air temperature is below freezing, ski areas blow compressed air and water through special nozzles. The tiny, aerated water droplets freeze as they hang in the cold air, then fall to the ground as artificial flakes.
The technology being used this summer at Tenney reverses that process. Water is chilled first, then frozen into thin sheets of ice inside a small building that looks like an electric sub-station. The ice is then broken into tiny pieces, and, with the help of compressed air, also cooled to snow-friendly temperatures. It is sprayed through a long plastic hose onto the mountain.

You can read the specifications of the ICS system used at Tenney on this SnowMagic Entertainment Industries webpage (SnowMagic is Tenney's owner).

As you'll see, the system can produce 150 tons of snow per day even if the one used at Tenney produced only 50 tons per day. But it comes with a hefty price tag.

Depending on the volume of snow it's capable of making, an ICS system can cost anywhere from $400,000 to $1 million. The system can make flakes of almost any size, down to 0.3 millimeters. For the summer, though, bigger flakes are better because they last longer.

Tenney Mountain plans to welcome skiers during summer, fall and winter. It will reopen in October.

SnowMagic, Tenney's owner, has grand plans. The company wants to turn baseball stadiums, empty six months per year, into winter parks to " bring the mountains to the masses."

Source: Scott Kirsner, Boston Globe, July 28, 2003

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