Friday Funny: Study models snow piles for use as air conditioners (yes, really)

From the UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA OKANAGAN CAMPUS and the “department of bad science fair submissions” comes this study, complete with ridiculous photo. There’s only one problem, most housing and office infrastructure isn’t setup to handle snow storage, and snow is most often stored in parking lots. What’s even funnier is that they had to use a model to try this….in Canada, a place where snow piles are abundant, even a nuisance.


You’d think if this was a workable idea, they’d actually try it with an HVAC system instead of modeling it. I’m sure they could find a snowpile somewhere nearby. Here is the press release below.

This image shows UBC's Rehan Sadiq (left) and Kasun Hewage. CREDIT UBC
This image shows UBC’s Rehan Sadiq (left) and Kasun Hewage. CREDIT UBC

Snow could reduce need for air conditioning

A recent UBC study shows that snow cleared from winter roads can help reduce summer air-conditioning bills.

The UBC study, a computer modelling exercise, found directing a building’s air handling units through a snow dump–snow collected and stored from winter road clearing operations–can reduce the need to use air conditioning during warmer parts of the year.

“What this study shows is that it is possible to use snow to reduce electricity consumption in structures such as apartment buildings,” says Kasun Hewage, an associate professor of engineering at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “We also now know that using material from snow dumps to cool buildings can also help to reduce the greenhouse gasses that air conditioning units emit.”

The study included simulations for large buildings and accounted for the different types of equipment needed in both conventional systems with industrial cooling units and snow-dump based systems, which insulate snow collected during winter months to use during the summer.

“While further research is needed, the potential of this type of system to be used for large buildings and institutions looks promising,” says Rehan Sadiq, a professor of engineering at UBC’s campus in Kelowna. “Aside from making good use of waste material, this type of system could eventually help large organizations such as municipalities recoup some of the considerable costs associated with snow removal.”

The study–done in collaboration with UBC graduate student Venkatesh Kumar–was recently published in the journal Clean Technologies and Environmental Policy.


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October 14, 2016 10:29 am

Funny thing about this, I happened upon this company’s web site just this week.
They use ice for batteries for the HVAC system.

Bryan A
Reply to  LoganSix
October 14, 2016 12:35 pm

I can Garrrunnnteee it that this process will be far more costly than is touted.
Just like California Gas and MTBE
We were informed that the cost of gas would go up due to the needed changes to infrastructure at refineries to accomodate the addition of MTBE to Gasoline. Later, when it was discovered that MTBE used in Power Boats, Jet Skis, and other motorized personal water craft, was causing a contamination problem in the Fresh Water supply, we were informed that it would cost even more to NOT add MTBE into the Gasoline supply.
Any changes always cost more

Reply to  Bryan A
October 14, 2016 12:55 pm

Point taken, but the MBTE example is a bad one. It wasn’t removing the MBTE that cost more, it was the fact you had to replace it with another oxygen source (ethanol.) If they had simply gone back to no additive, the cost would have come back down.

Reply to  LoganSix
October 14, 2016 5:07 pm

In areas where there are a significant number of days well below freezing, dig a big hole in the ground, water proof line it, put in piping & water and freeze in the winter using external fans with anti-freeze & water/radiator through the piping; then extract cooling in the summer when electric rates are higher.

Reply to  BFL
October 15, 2016 3:06 pm

That would be the “ice rooms” seen throughout the UK where well off aristocrats chilled their food and wine. Nothing new under the sun!

Christopher Paino
Reply to  LoganSix
October 15, 2016 9:48 am

I don’t think I quite get the Ice Bear. It seems that they compare it to electrical batteries, but then say it “charges” by making ice, the “discharges” by cooling with said made ice. So all you can use it for is cooling, but they talk about “storage”. Unless I missed something, it only stores ice, not electricity.

Reply to  Christopher Paino
October 18, 2016 6:39 am

I don’t get it either. At first I thought it was just creating ice to cool the HVAC, but it is using the ice like a battery to store electricity like you would with a salt water battery.

October 14, 2016 10:35 am

Really useful idea in Australia!

Reply to  Greg
October 14, 2016 11:11 pm

You forgot the SARC tag.

Reply to  Greg
October 14, 2016 11:15 pm

No wuckers! Australia administers the Australian Antarctic Territory so we could truck it in. No need to worry about import duties 🙂

Monna Manhas
Reply to  Jon
October 15, 2016 7:43 am

There is a protocol for snow removal – heavily trafficked streets and roads first, and so on down to small residential neighbourhoods, which are last. Priority depends on how many people use that particular road. In residential neighbourhoods, the snow is usually just plowed to the side of the road and left there. In parking lots, it is often just plowed to one spot and left there. The parking lot gets smaller as winter goes on. Usually snow is completely removed only from major streets and commercial areas, because those areas are the ones that are needed to keep the city functioning.

Monna Manhas
Reply to  Jon
October 15, 2016 7:44 am

Sorry, that post was for ozspeaksup

Reply to  Greg
October 15, 2016 4:31 am

no snow but…our smarter oldtimers DID use pipes in trenches under homes(along with in ground cool cellars) to channel cooled air at ground temp up into houses storage pantries.
i was musing on giving it a go in my house as its wooden above ground and sort of accessible to try n dig trenches under. i know people who did have n use that system and they swore it worked pretty well.
my Q is WHY??dont they compress snow to make it more like icebricks??? as they’d be far less bulky than loose snow and rather stackable and could be stored in huge pits with channeling to draw cooled air from.
later the water would keep gardens etc alive in bad summers or be used on public gardens etc to cool civic areas.

Monna Manhas
Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 15, 2016 7:35 am

Ozspeaksup says, “WHY??dont they compress snow to make it more like icebricks??? as they’d be far less bulky than loose snow and rather stackable and could be stored in huge pits with channeling to draw cooled air from.
later the water would keep gardens etc alive in bad summers or be used on public gardens etc to cool civic areas.”
In Canadian cities where there is enough snow to consider this, it is usually cleared off the streets and taken somewhere to be dumped. At that point, it’s not loose snow – it’s compacted and extremely heavy to lift, as anyone who has had to shovel after the snow plow has gone by can attest. In the spring the stacked snow melts.
You can’t use the water from the plowed snow for your garden, because the roads are treated with large amounts of salt and gravel to make it safer to drive (loose snow that is driven on quickly turns to ice). Plus there are other goodies that end up in the plowed snow, like the odd bit of trash, or broken glass.
In the city where I live, springtime brings out the city street-sweeping machines to clean all the gravel off the roads from the previous winter. There is a lot of gravel, and it takes them several weeks to clean it all up.

Reply to  Greg
October 15, 2016 3:13 pm

You could have the snow and ice delivered via ship!

October 14, 2016 10:40 am

I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada … never did I use AC once, if it’s warm inside I open the windows. Temperature in summer rarely goes beyond 25C or 77F. This is Canada, we needs saving to our heating bills rather than AC

Reply to  Nash
October 14, 2016 10:52 am

build an XL sized pipe line to Texas and ship your snow to where it’s needed. You’ll get millions of carbon credits for the project.
… and if it does not work out you can always sell the pipeline to someone else 😉

Reply to  Nash
October 14, 2016 10:56 am

That’s not an option for large factories and office buildings.
When I was in Atlanta, I noticed that the office building I worked in would still be using the air conditioner even when the air temperatures dropped to the low 50’s.
Too much internal heat (people, lights, computers) and too little surface area. The better the insulation, the worse this problem became.
One possibility would be to modify the blowers so that they can either pull air through the AC/heater, or pull air from outside. I don’t know how much such a modification would cost. There’s also issues with filtering the air and dealing with humidity.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 11:00 am

How much does it snow in Atlanta?

Curious George
Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 11:09 am

I visited Atlanta some 20 years ago, after a minor (4 inch) snowfall. The traffic ground to a full stop. An enterprising guy in a 4wd truck took me to my hotel from the airport. No public transportation, no taxicabs.

tom s
Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 11:25 am

The ‘smart’ HVAC systems being built today do just that. The compressor for AC does not kick in if outside air is cool enough, yet internal, window sealed, insulation thick offices with abundant internal heat being generated are too warm. Ours is this way at my office and the ‘AC’ can literally kick in when it gets above about 35F outside. Crazy as it may seem.

Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 11:47 am

Only an inch or two every few years.
However my response was to Nash who commented about being able to open his house windows instead of using the AC.

Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 11:49 am

CG: For a city like Atlanta, it costs a lot less to just shut the city down for a day once every 3 to 5 years, than it would to maintain the equipment necessary to handle that snow.
That and the fact that the people in Atlanta only get to practice their snow driving skills once every 5 years or so.

Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 12:34 pm

I remember a new year’s eve about 15y back. I was invited to a party at friend’s house in southern France.
There was a few inches of snow ( like 2 or 3″ ) and everyone was out of control like it was a natural disaster.
Some goof was trying to pull up a 1 in 10 road leaving the city and was unable to pull away, having stopped in traffic.
As I over took him on my 1957 Norton motorbike, I tapped on the window and suggested he stopped revving the arse off it and tried pulling away gently. Much french arm waving and “ce n’est pas possible” and I said ‘fine’ and pulled away up the hill.
Having successfully navigated the equivalent of the NW passage on two wheels , we all had a great night !!

Ben of Houston
Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 1:39 pm

The outside-air mixer is called an Economizer. It’s an option on most large-scale ACs. The best economizers are controlled by the unit based on inside and outside temperature as well as humidity. Some even go based off CO2 concentration, as it can be significant on heavily populated indoor areas with heavy recycle on the air.

Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 2:38 pm

Curious George
Similar to London – except here, we are economical and get the same effect – gridlock from less than 4 centimetres of snow!
Mods – NO – not sarc.
If only it was.
I remember one night – 2009 maybe – trying to get home from right by the Bank of England.
London Bridge station was fine – per web – when I left the office.
16 minutes later, when I arrived, it had nothing moving.
You don’t even try waiting then!
I got on a bus.
2 hours later I bailed out at Brixton – three miles at best – as nothing, that is n o t h i n g was going up Brixton Hill with half an inch of ice.
Forty minutes after eating in Brixton, I was back in the office. Stayed overnight.
Auto – memories . . . .

Reply to  MarkW
October 15, 2016 12:12 am

Around 1995, I gave a lecture at a company in Philadelphia. Bad time to be in Philly, because the weather at that time was so cold and the city iced over, all manufacturing companies had been ordered to shut down to conserve energy for home heating. The lecture had to go on, though. I was teaching them how to design new computer control systems based around PowerPC and our lab equipment consisted of 6 Compaq 1994 era tanks each with an YARC (Yet Another RISC Computer) IBM PPC601 development card installed. The air temp in the very large but devoid of people building was in the mid-40F range, the air temp in the 20 person lecture room was about 85F. We had to keep the door open to keep the computers from overheating!

Reply to  MarkW
October 15, 2016 2:21 pm

That bad winter weather in Philadelphia happened in early 1994. Around Harrisburg, the Susquehanna River froze and coal shipments stopped, causing an electricity shortage that led to “rolling blackouts”. There were a lot of ice storms as well as one heck of a cold snap that set some records, including an alltime record low for Harrisburg – which happened after the worst of the ice storms, and the ice lingered a long time. The worst of the ice storms also shut down mail delivery in Philadelphia, which is very uncommon.
Unbelievably, in Philadelphia the winter overall was abnormally officially average – with almost perfectly average figures for temperature, total precipitation and snowfall for the winter as a whole. The snowfall figure includes sleet, of which there was plenty that winter. And a very unusually large amount of that winter’s rain fell while it was below freezing.
On the other hand, Philadelphia’s summers of 1991 through 1995 were extremely hot.

Reply to  Nash
October 14, 2016 11:07 am

Every year Calgary get multiple days over 30°C/86°F (typically 5 days). While I also don’t have AC, there are some days that I sure would like it.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
October 14, 2016 11:13 am

Are there “snow dumps” around on those days?

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
October 14, 2016 12:45 pm

Right, so for 5 days per year what kind of snow storage invest are you prepared to invest in?
Sounds like a local architech who wanted to design a pair of “sustainable” houses. He had some good ideas but wanted to heat a reserve of water under the house in summer to use as heating in the winter.
I said it sounds like BS, but let’s run the numbers. About 5min on the back of an envelop and I had convinced him to stop messing around unless he wanted to excavate a large volume of rock under the house and install 1m thick insulation for the reservoir.
Indians are canny businessmen and it looks like this pair have worked out how to sell snow storage to canadians. Kudos !

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
October 14, 2016 11:16 pm

30C isn’t very hot. In Canberra (one of the colder parts of Australia) it is over 30C for most of the summer. It frequently goes over 40C, which I’ll admit, one does start to feel.

Reply to  Nash
October 15, 2016 12:49 pm

We moved to Everett, WA in 1979 and have never had AC because we really didn’t need it and still don’t. Yes, it gets hot for a couple of weeks in August but a fan makes it bearable, so it is not worth the cost to put in AC. We are at 48 degrees North Latitude and the Pacific Ocean drives our climate. People in Canada really don’t need AC except for office buildings.

October 14, 2016 10:43 am

They shouldn’t need much AC in BC. Just open the window.
Any place that gets that much snow probably doesn’t need much AC. Those places that need AC, like my FLA home, don’t get snow.
Perhaps they can truck snow from the mountains to FT Myers and reduce CO2 emissions.

Reply to  DonK31
October 14, 2016 11:01 am

Trucking that much snow would only create more deadly CO2. Perhaps a pipeline or better yet snow rafts conveyed on river currents would solve the problem. There is a precedent for the latter method. There was serious research during WWII on the feasibility of building aircraft carriers out of reinforced ice for use escorting convoys in the North Atlantic. Go ahead, google ‘pykrete’ if you don’t believe me.

Bryan A
Reply to  JustAnOldGuy
October 14, 2016 12:39 pm

They could transport it by trains “Coal Death Trains”
They could use the Coal as an insulator to ensure the snow doesn’t melt.

Reply to  JustAnOldGuy
October 14, 2016 1:37 pm

I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this idea out of hand. I may be wrong, but isn’t it used in Japan?
Don’t forget, the heat of fusion is about 80 calories per gram. That’s a lot of wasted heat (or cooling) in my opinion. Oh, by the way. When I was young, refrigerators didn’t exist. We had ice boxes. In the winter, the ice would be taken from the St. Lawrence river, stored in a warehouse in sawdust and delivered to household ice boxes by horse and cart in the summer. A block of ice cost 25 cents and would last nearly a week.
It seems there’s nothing new under the sun.

Reply to  JustAnOldGuy
October 14, 2016 1:45 pm

Old Guy, you don’t need to look up such exotic references. It would be better to look up ice harvesting and transport methods. The pole-it-on-a-raft was apparently popular.
Trebla, yes, I will dismiss it out of hand, with one senetence. THIS IS AN ICEBOX. The reason that iceboxes went out of popularity wasn’t that they didn’t work. It was because the energy involved in harvesting, storing, and transporting ice was an order of magnitude greater than the energy you could save using even 1950s refrigerators and freezers.

Reply to  JustAnOldGuy
October 14, 2016 5:13 pm

I remember Pykrete. Pyke was a bit of a mad scientist. As I recall, Pykrete was made from a mixture of sawdust and freezing water, creating extremely tough blocks of ice. Not easy to make, but not easy for a sub to sink. I don’t think they got far with the idea.

Reply to  JustAnOldGuy
October 15, 2016 12:53 pm

CO2 is not deadly, it is plant food.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  DonK31
October 14, 2016 11:01 am

Why not just tow an ice berg from all those that break off Greenland due to warming.

Reply to  Tom in Florida
October 14, 2016 11:20 pm

Dick Smith did it as an April Fool’s day stunt once. He faked an ice berg on a boat and moored it in Sydney Harbour. Amusing, but more serious suggestions have been mad to mount engines on ice floating off Antarctica and bring them to Australia that way.

Reply to  DonK31
October 14, 2016 11:12 am

Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world. It has every climate you can think of. In fact, Kelowna (where this study was done) is semi-arid; not far away is an actual desert. Kelowna typically gets 25 days of over 30°C/86°F, two of which are over 35°C/95°F. AC is very much needed there, much more so than heating (they typically have only 10 days below -10°C/14°F).

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
October 14, 2016 12:50 pm

“Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world. It has every climate you can think of.”
I may believe that about NZ, but remind me about the tropical parts of Canada. Mangroves? Boiling mud?
Yep, tar sands are pretty cool.

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
October 14, 2016 2:57 pm

“AC is very much needed there, much more so than heating (they typically have only 10 days below -10°C/14°F).”
Appreciating that Kelowna is indeed in Canada, and h habitations there will be insulated, a couple of days here, in South London, at about 3C overnight, mean ‘Heating on’.
-10C . Gulp!!
We have had a very few days here there.
Indeed, we have had -18C at the bottom of the hill.
In our frost trap.
I believe that was the lowest temperature – ever – recorded in Surrey, in >150 years.
Ummmm – Goodness [Mods – accept, please] – that really was quite cool walking to the station.
Auto, hoping that winters will be mild, not Cool/cold.
For everyone.

Ross King
October 14, 2016 10:45 am

Yeah …. we’ll need insulated snow-storage facilities to keep it ‘white’ into the height of summer, and refrigeration to maintain the int. temp. below freezing, of course ……. Say no more.

October 14, 2016 10:45 am

And where are we supposed to store this snow when it is 100F outside?

Reply to  Ack
October 14, 2016 10:57 am

They don’t store it. When it melts away, go back to 100% AC.

October 14, 2016 10:49 am

Next will be to leave “normal” houses ans start living in an ice caves during summers.

October 14, 2016 10:49 am

Beer cooler maybe.

October 14, 2016 10:52 am

So why not go back to hauling huge cuts of ice from lakes and store it in big buildings with sawdust all summer – like they did when my grandparents got their first “icebox” with a daily ice block delivery along with milk. 😉

Carbon BIgfoot
Reply to  ldd
October 14, 2016 7:58 pm

They didn’t have two cars for every household parked on both sides of the street in most towns or cities. Nor did they have bumper to bumper traffic most hours of the day making delivery tedious. And in some parts of the USA taking your life in your hands delivering in Gobmin’ projects up elevators lol. If you desire ice most convenient stores have ice coolers with bagged ice–maybe you can make that work. How about you start a delivery service all your own. Maybe you can start a franchise–let me know how that works for you.

Reply to  Carbon BIgfoot
October 15, 2016 8:55 am

Not sure why you’re assigning me as a supporter of this pre-electric method of food storage. We currently burn wood for heat, cook with n-gas and have a 12 ft fire pit in which anything they won’t pick up curb side gets reduced to ashes along with ample forest debris to pick up and burn, spring, summer & fall.
Your clue for sarcasm was the winky face…

October 14, 2016 10:53 am

I saw something like this in either Popular Science or Popular Mechanics back in the 70’s.
Somebody had proposed digging a pit, pushing snow into it during the winter, then covering it some kind of white insulating tarp once spring hit. Then using the melt water to cool the building for the early part of spring and summer.
Never caught on obviously. However if the green weenies keep forcing energy prices up, it might happen.

Tom Halla
October 14, 2016 10:54 am

It might be useful in a place with a radically variable climate like South Korea. but ignores the cost of storage space in an urban environment.

Tom O
October 14, 2016 10:54 am

One other consideration. If this is snow removed from the roads they want to use, imagine the dirt and salt that would be packed into their storage unit, and how well would it hold up. I can see the typical “downtown area now, modern building alternating with 6 story storage boxes filled with sand, salt and snow all along main street. Sadly, this study was funded, I’m sure.

Reply to  Tom O
October 14, 2016 10:58 am

Each year after your pile melts away, you would have to send in a team to clean out the dirt and salt.
Yet another cost.

Tom in Florida
Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 11:12 am

Not to mention all the bird piss and poop, garbage, trash, pieces of broken pavement, rocks and anything else found lurking in parking lots and on roadways.

Reply to  MarkW
October 14, 2016 11:51 am

Most of the birds have flown south by the time it starts snowing.

Tom in Florida
October 14, 2016 10:59 am

“While further research is needed, the potential of this type of system to be used for large buildings and institutions looks promising”
Translation: Please send more money so we don’t have to get a real job.

October 14, 2016 11:01 am

I notice that the claim that AC units “emit” greenhouse gases. The only thing I know they emit is cold air.

Reply to  arthur4563
October 14, 2016 12:10 pm

Depends on which end of the refrigeration cycle you’re on. The bits on the outside generally emit hot air while the bits on the inside emit cold air. As for the greenhouse gas claim, only if the refrigerant leaks out. And if that happens, no more cold air on the inside.

October 14, 2016 11:03 am

A few comments.
These guys are from the OKANAGAN, they don’t really get snow there, so I can understand that they couldn’t try this on site.
Second, “can reduce the need to use air conditioning during warmer parts of the year”. There are no snow piles during warmer parts of the year. What on earth are these guys talking about?
Third, oddly, most office building use air conditioning even when it is fairly cold outside. All the infrastructure within the building tends to heat it up, requiring cooling. So, during a mild spell in the winter, yes this could possibly be done. Of course, you would have to do significant modifications to the building HVAC system….

Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
October 14, 2016 6:35 pm

Jeff as a resident , I have to admit we do not get the same snowfall as Albertans but after having to shovel our driveway for the last 45 years I can tell you it can hang around for months. This study is stupid a sure fire way for more funding requests but did any of you look at the picture and noticed the sign on the building?
“Winners”….. yeah right.

Reply to  asybot
October 14, 2016 6:39 pm

Jeff, btw I am embarrassed that this came from this campus, in all it is a great university and boon to our community but this kind of thing does a lot of damage to their image, very sad , this stuff ( well should never be published.

Monna Manhas
Reply to  Jeff in Calgary
October 15, 2016 7:47 am

Couple of years ago I was in St John, New Brunswick in June. They had had so much snow the previous year that there was still a 10-foot pile where it had been dumped. But that was clearly unusual, because about 15 people made a point of mentioning it to me.

October 14, 2016 11:05 am

Hope they accounted for the air conditioning needed to preserve the snow piles until summer!

Mark from the Midwest
October 14, 2016 11:08 am

Three questions,
1) How much energy does it take to collect snow, (it’s really very heavy once you start to plow the stuff).
2) How much energy does it take to transport snow into areas where it’s going to be needed, like trucking it to Arizona, since most cooler climates, where snow is plentiful, (like the Upper Great Lakes), really don’t have that much of a need for regular air conditioning. Twelve days is typical for our annual use of the whole house air conditioner here in Northern Michigan.
3) What is the cost of building a structure(s) to store the snow for when it’s needed? I suspect that a well insulated building, that could hold 1000 cubic yards of snow, would cost around $60K. For 60K you could easily install a nice small windmill, and a couple of 16 cubic foot freezers to make enough ice to offset the windless periods and have about $35K left in your pocket.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
October 14, 2016 11:17 am

“…Three questions,
1) How much energy does it take to collect snow, (it’s really very heavy once you start to plow the stuff)…”
Didn’t you see the photo? People will use shovels. Ok, some energy will be needed indirectly to provide their food, clothing, etc…

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
October 14, 2016 11:53 am

Even in Minnesota, large office buildings use AC for much of the year.

October 14, 2016 11:11 am

Gaia worship is truly a mental disorder along the lines of liberalism in general.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Patrick
October 14, 2016 11:16 am

… and it’s getting worse… metastasizing, infecting, and putrefying every aspect of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.. Truly pathologic.
The cure is to cut off the access to OPM (other people’s money).

Joel O’Bryan
October 14, 2016 11:12 am

The Greens should fund a high-speed railroad to transport it down to the Mojave Desert then on to LA, they could even use a carbon tax to help pay for it…… oh wait.

Don gleason
Reply to  Joel O’Bryan
October 14, 2016 7:28 pm

And when it melts, water their lawns with it…brilliant!!

Monna Manhas
Reply to  Don gleason
October 15, 2016 7:49 am

You can’t just use it for your lawn – it’s full of salt. You’d have to distill it first.

Curious George
October 14, 2016 11:17 am

This is a recycled idea from the sixteenth century. Before refrigeration, beer pubs got ice from nearby rivers and lakes, stored it in a deep cellar, and stored beer barrels on the top of it.

Ed Bo
Reply to  Curious George
October 14, 2016 1:07 pm

I’m reminded of the song “Poor Judd is Dead” from the musical Oklahoma:
“It looks like he’s asleep;
It’s a shame that he won’t keep;
But it’s summer
And we’re running out of ice!”

Mike the Morlock
October 14, 2016 11:22 am

Well someone is going to say it… wasn’t snow suppose to be a thing of the past? “Children were not going to know what snow is” Or such rubbish.
So riddle me this what type of fool funds research into using snow for habitat cooling while at the same time warns of catastrophic snow melting warming.

Reply to  Mike the Morlock
October 14, 2016 11:34 am

Yes, but it’s rotten snow. ;->

Reply to  Mike the Morlock
October 14, 2016 4:10 pm

Ah, progress: Children are not going to know what snow is… and with widespread adoption of this approach, when they grow up they won’t know what air conditioning is.

Joe Civis
October 14, 2016 11:31 am

Oh my! What a brilliant idea! it could also be used to save money on refrigeration for food in homes .. it could be called an “Ice Box” with a large block of ice inside to keep the food cold! Wow such amazing technology!
/sarc just in case its needed.

October 14, 2016 11:33 am

What goes around comes around! This is how it was done, back in the “good ole’ days.” The company I work for was actually involved in the “Frozen Water Trade” long ago, before refrigeration. Cutting blocks of ice from frozen northern rivers and shipping them south.

Stephen Skinner
October 14, 2016 11:38 am

This is a brilliant idea. I just wonder why countries like India or Egypt etc haven’t thought of this before because it’s such a simple and elegant idea? I can’t wait till the next heat wave to try it out.

Reply to  Stephen Skinner
October 14, 2016 1:00 pm

India is prepared to play thier part in combatting climate change but they want $2.5tn and mega carbon credits every year for the indefinite future since, they do not have the means themselves.
They have a scheme for transporting ice cold water from the Himalayas to the Ganges basin but need a lot of financial help to get the project off the ground ( so to speak ) .
They will also require compensation when the wicked west has caused so much global warming that there are not glaciers left ( estimation: 2035 )

Reply to  GregG
October 15, 2016 4:20 am

They said the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by 2030.

Reply to  Stephen Skinner
October 14, 2016 6:25 pm

When I was a child in Egypt we had an ice box that relied on a daily ice delivery. Unfortunately we had to check the cleaner, who would rinse it out and leave it in the sun to dry! The wonder of our first ‘fridge remains with me; it was a Kelvinator. I still have no idea where the daily ice was produced.

October 14, 2016 11:40 am

Quite a long time ago (like 3000 years or more) they used to cut ice blocks from lakes/rivers and collect snow and store the ice and snow in (aptly named) ice houses. This could then be used to preserve perishable foods throughout the year.
All this idea changed is to blow air through the ice house to cool the air down and then send it back into the building for A/C.
So the practicality of this was well known historically and the use of any time and money to (re)research it was insane.

Reply to  ddpalmer
October 14, 2016 11:53 am

It counts as research in the new normal of science and promotions.

October 14, 2016 11:41 am

Ot, but in light of the Wikileaks latest release, WL has provided a searchable database for the Podesta emails which contained many climate/energy emails.
WL Searchable database:

October 14, 2016 12:00 pm

Why not try it out? Select a small village, accumulate a giant snow heap on central quare and
each house gets a plastic water hose loop and a circulation pump and extracts the house needs
of cold out of the snow heap until the heap is molten away…. and if the heap were gone already in June, then doble the amount of snow……..and voila´: lots of savings accomplished and all villagers
smiling happily of being on the forefront of science and technology…..

Timo Soren
October 14, 2016 12:08 pm

The link to the ice bear, or ICE ENERGY, is a simple idea. At night, when the cost of electric is 1/2 the price of daytime highs, you freeze water. Then during the day you run the HVAC through the heat exchanger to heat the ice and cool the air. Hence air conditioning during the day, at the nighttimes electric cost plus lost cold and the recovery cost of the machines. If I remember correctly, you have to have about a 30% electric differential to make this work as a viable cost savings.

October 14, 2016 12:17 pm

oaken noggins.

Bengt Abelsson
October 14, 2016 12:29 pm

It all depends on local conditions. In a Swedish town, the hospital is cooled summertime from a pile of snow (200,000m3) that has to be cleared from streets anyhow.
The snowpile is covered with sawdust to prevent “natural” melting.

Walter Sobchak
October 14, 2016 12:33 pm

Like windmills and battery electric cars, storing snow and ice from the winter to provide cooling in the summer is Jurassic technology. Sadly, it is what we will be reduced to if the “environmentalists” succeed in their campaign to end industrial civilization.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  Walter Sobchak
October 14, 2016 6:09 pm
Mike Murphy
October 14, 2016 12:43 pm

Money was available, despite the impracticality of such a project, so they took it and published. The fact no method exists to store snow without refrigeration equipment (see the irony here), often full of salt and other detritus, to use when AC is required.
Deep water cooling for A/C in very large buildings is used in Toronto which is very practical adjacent to large water bodies.
“Since August 2004, a deep lake water cooling system has been operated by the Enwave Energy Corporation in Toronto, Ontario.[4] It draws water from Lake Ontario through tubes extending 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) into the lake, reaching to a depth of 83 metres (272 ft). The deep lake water cooling system is part of an integrated district cooling system that covers Toronto’s financial district, and has a cooling power of 59,000 tons (207 MW). The system currently has enough capacity to cool 3,200,000 square metres (34,000,000 sq ft) of office space.[5]
The cold water drawn from Lake Ontario’s deep layer in the Enwave system is not returned directly to the lake, once it has been run through the heat exchange system. The Enwave system only uses water that is destined to meet the city’s domestic water needs. Therefore, the Enwave system does not pollute the lake with a plume of waste heat.”

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Mike Murphy
October 14, 2016 2:00 pm

The Toronto system sounds like a practical application of the technology. I guess it pays to be located next to a rather large and chilly body of water, especially when you already have a use for teh water withdrawn.

Reply to  Mike Murphy
October 14, 2016 11:41 pm

Two points:
1) It doesn’t need refrigeration to keep ice – before refrigeration was invented, that is exactly how it was done. Ice was cut from northern rivers and stored in ice houses for use in cooling during the summer. BTW, in Australia, ice was so valuable in the summer that ice cubes were not allowed to go to waste. Once you had finished your drink, the ice cubes were fished out an put in the next drinker’s glass.
2) Using lakes for building cooling was used in the 1970s. The Benjamin and Cameron Offices in the north of Canberra were both cooled by running cooling pipes under Lake Ginninderra.
BTW, the Cameron Offices were, in my opinion, the worst architected buildings in Canberra, possibly all of Australia. Among it’s many architectural flaws, it had active cave-making processes operating in it, to the extent that it had 5mm stalagtites growing from the ceilings.

R. Patton
October 14, 2016 12:56 pm

This concept was demonstrated at a significant scale by Ted Taylor & Freeman Dyson at Princeton University in 1981 – but using snow making machines to make the snow during cold weather. It was described by John McPhee in his book Table Of Contents.

John Pickens
Reply to  R. Patton
October 14, 2016 8:54 pm

And as a Princeton area resident, I visited the installation, which consisted of a lined lagoon with heat exchange piping, and an insulated tensioned tent roof which could be raised and lowered over the lagoon. It was raised when temperatures were below freezing, and commercial air compressor aided snowmaking guns sprayed water droplets to be frozen as dense artificial snow. Then the roof was lowered to save the ice for months when air conditioning was needed.
As I recall, the system worked, but the tons of ice were not able to efficiently transfer energy due to all the melt water. Also, when you calculate the air conditioning needs, the lagoon and stored ice would have to be an order of magnitude larger, dwarfing the structure to be cooled, and vastly increasing the amount of insulation necessary to store the ice.
They measure HVAC systems in Tons of capacity, which is literally the number of tons of ice which could be produced in one day by an air conditioning unit.
Since a moderately sized home in the US has about a 3 Ton system, you can imagine he much ice would need to be stored. A system which runs 30% of the time during the summer would need one ton of ice, PER DAY, for, perhaps a 60 day cooling season. 60 tons is a lot of ice, and a commercial building would need many times this amount.

October 14, 2016 12:56 pm

Those characters deserve to fail!
Whoever thought this was international news via grandstand press releases should be failed too.
Build a model with a “white room” containing an imaginary amount of snow.
a) There is zero cost for the room necessary to contain an imaginary amount of snow.
b) There is zero cost for collecting an imaginary amount of snow.
c) There is apparently zero cost for the building ventilation changes necessary to accommodate piping building air ducts through the snow.
d) There are apparently no problems for providing and controlling proper air/temperature exchange. We must assume it’s an imaginary perfect air exchange system someone else designed.
e) As others have pointed out, there are zero provisions for assuring the air exchange meets health and sanitary needs.
Why do I get mental images of Indian subcontinent working and living standards for the lowest classes?
Most modern and modernized office, school, laboratory and administration buildings in Western civilization use heat pumps for most air conditioning issues. Only during the hottest and coldest periods will the heat pumps be bypassed.
Of course, in places like most of Canada, Texas, American South, Southwest, West, Australia, and similar locales, that can mean most of certain seasons.
Back in the old work for the Federal Government days, the vice presidents occupied the South and West facing portions of the office tower.
Then the VPs’ had huge glass windows installed that let in great views, lots of sunlight and a tremendous amount of heat; especially during summer.
But the VPs’ preferred their offices and meeting rooms to be cool.
Maintenance channeled all of the cooling power and ventilation down to cool the Vice President offices; the rest of the floor suffered with stale warm and muggy air.
I sat in a cubicle under a large vent, hated by the women as all that air movement froze them. After the ventilation changes, the air was still.
Having a few buddies in maintenance, I taped strips of tissue paper around the vents. Then, I called my buddies in maintenance to see the lack of air movement. That was when they confessed the channel air to the vice presidents. I refused when they wanted me to take down the streamers and grudgingly they allowed a little air through.
I left one streamer up.
As others above have explained, there is a lot of heat generating equipment throughout offices. Laser printers and copier machines are huge offenders, but many monitor and desktop or tower computers also put out significant warmth.
Room where telecommunications and networks are channeled, controlled and allocated from are hot stuffy places too.
So, two British Columbia students and at least one teacher should be released upon the world to establish their own snow collection and air cooling services.

Reply to  ATheoK
October 14, 2016 1:08 pm

In th interests of technology transfer and saving the planet, they should be give free air travel to India, where they can be paid to develop the idea.

Hats off...
October 14, 2016 1:02 pm

Well the West Antarctic peninsula is about to collapse. Before it does, can we swing the US Navy down that way with tow ropes? A few solid ice stakes with ropes and we should be able to tow that baby to Canada to chop up for AC use.

David J Wendt
October 14, 2016 1:08 pm
In this biographical look at the life of Ted Taylor who was a brilliant engineer, who designed nuclear weapons during and after the Manhattan Project and worked on the original Orion project to use nukes to drive space craft, McPhee devotes most of it to revealing how close the world of the early Seventies, when it was written, was to terrorists being able to build a nuclear weapon. But, in filling in the details of Taylor’s later life, he devotes a chapter to his proposal to use large piles of ice and snow for just this purpose. Admittedly, on the surface, it seems to be a rather bizarre notion but, if you bother to read Taylor’s analysis of the idea, I think you’ll be less inclined to be completely dismissive of it., Of course, even nearly a half century ago, his thinking was light years ahead of these bozoes.

October 14, 2016 1:17 pm

It is quite obvious that these two have never heard of Ice Houses or Ice Boxes, two items from bygone eras.
All that is needed is to bring back the horse drawn carts the Iceman used for deliveries!
“Those who are ignorant of history….”

Rhoda R
Reply to  rocketscientist
October 14, 2016 2:46 pm

And then we can contemplate the problems of horse waste pollution.

Reply to  Rhoda R
October 14, 2016 6:49 pm

In India they dry dung and use it to cook, so no problem with that.

Bruce Cobb
October 14, 2016 1:23 pm

These sorts of ideas are less than half-baked. Perhaps those who worked on it though were completely baked.

Tom Judd
October 14, 2016 1:35 pm

This has given me a great idea; in fact a brilliant idea. But, in presenting it I must remind the reader that I am merely standing on the shoulders of great men: Sadiq and Hewage.
You see, the idea that piles of snow can cool our buildings during summer got me to wondering if there might be piles of something that could heat our buildings and homes during winter. And, I came up with an idea … Ready? … semi-solid piles of human bodily waste products. See, what I mean about standing on the shoulders of great men (a position I may wanna be in when in proximity of those piles)? Think of it; all natural (unless it’s from Dennis Rodman), never ever ever depleteable, green (figuratively speaking), massive piles of steaming human feces emanating gentle radiant heat at about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Oh, and also emanating soothing humidity to keep the sinuses open during harsh, dry, winter weather. Flies may pose a problem, but I’m sure our boys at NASA can figure it out.
You know what they always say: The best ideas are 3% inspiration; 97% perspiration. Not true. The best ideas are 3% inspiration; 97% waste product generation.

Reply to  Tom Judd
October 14, 2016 11:51 pm

Or perhaps more accurately, “Green ideas are 3% inspiration; 97% waste product generation.”

South River Independent
October 14, 2016 1:40 pm

Snow piles, not for A/C, but for winter recreation. When I was in elementary school in Wisconsin, we would have a great time after a snow storm. With a thick coat of snow on the ground, we would play tackle football on the playground during recess. After the snow was piled into a giant mound, we would play King of the Mountain. Of course they do not have recess anymore from what I understand.

Reply to  South River Independent
October 14, 2016 11:55 pm

Not allowed to play king of the mountain either. Apart from the fact that it presupposes a winner, the king, which isn’t allowed anymore because it might hurt fragile children’s feelings if they don’t win. Worst, though, is that it is sexist. Where is the queen of the mountain? Not to mention Bisexual, Lesbian, Inter-sexual, Gay and Transgender (BLIGT).

Joe Crawford
October 14, 2016 1:49 pm

One of the proposed methods for building an energy efficient house that came out of the ’70s oil crunch was to build the house over a large water tank and install a heat pump with the secondary coil in the tank. It would work by pumping heat from the water into the house in the winter thus freezing the water in the tank. In the summer it cooled the house by pumping heat from the house back into the water. This was similar to what they attempt to do with some in-ground geothermal systems today. When I did a preliminary look at this type system for a house I was designing it appeared to me that it would only work in the right (i.e., balanced) climate. I am suspicious that both the in-ground and multi-well geothermal systems have the same problem today.
I haven’t read the UBC study but I can imagine plenty of similar problems when trying to match the proposed system to the local climate. I doubt the authors have done much in the way of cost analysis for other than average local weather conditions, if they even did that. Off hand, it appears to me that for some winters you could wind up with full storage areas early in the season, and for some summers run out of stored snow early in the season. Ddesigning the system to handle both these conditions could easily be cost prohibitive.

October 14, 2016 1:52 pm

This is a simple engineering problem. Big air conditioners are rated in tons. A ton is 12,000 BTU/hour. It refers to the heat required to melt one ton of ice in 24 hours. link
This summer my house would have required around 20 tons of ice. That’s about 20 cubic meters or 20 cubic yards roughly. With insulation that would require a structure around 10 x 10 x 10 feet. It’s not impossible. If electricity cost five bucks per kWh I would consider it.

Reply to  commieBob
October 14, 2016 8:19 pm

“This is a simple engineering problem. . . . If electricity cost five bucks per kWh I would consider it.”
If the whole world were this rational, electricity would cost less than five cents per kWh.

Reply to  Dav09
October 14, 2016 10:36 pm

Indeed, it would.
I googled on Too cheap to meter. It was different than I thought.
In 1954 they were secretly working on fusion reactors and that gave rise to the phrase. Fusion didn’t happen because the required breakthroughs didn’t happen. This should be a cautionary story for the greenies who think renewable energy will somehow become practical. Breakthroughs can’t be planned.

Joe Crawford
October 14, 2016 2:05 pm

Very practical system so long as you are guaranteed to collect 20 tons of ice (maybe 30 or 40 for backup) each winter.

October 14, 2016 2:47 pm

snow collected and stored from winter road clearing operations–can reduce the need to use air conditioning during warmer parts of the year…
How the snow is stored cold for a few months is a mystery…

October 14, 2016 4:13 pm

Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
This study is flawed from the outset! Unfortunately, the UBC researchers didn’t add the most important line of code into their models: “Snowfalls are now a thing of the past.” (Dr David Viner, senior research scientist at the Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, March 2000).

NW sage
October 14, 2016 4:32 pm

Given the statement that it apparently is a published paper – I have very serious doubts about the quality of the peer review at that publication.

October 14, 2016 5:16 pm

These guys are academics. What more needs to be said?

John F. Hultquist
October 14, 2016 5:53 pm

I’ve seen a few historic ice (not snow) storage buildings, but only small local use ones. One was a well built double-wall structure about the size of a 2-car garage with sawdust between the walls. Sawdust is mentioned in this, the (wiki) story of the Ice-Trade industry:
Lots of b/w drawings and images.

October 14, 2016 6:14 pm

I can just see that idea working in Melbourne in January! Do I need a sarc/?

Reply to  Annie
October 15, 2016 12:00 am

I think that Melbourne ice was shipped by sailing boat from North America. It was cut from frozen rivers. When steam-powered refrigeration plants were first set up, there was a terrific advertising campaign that river ice was better because it didn’t have bubbles in it. But in the end, they simply couldn’t compete with the manufactured product because there was such a large price differential.

Taylor Pohlman
Reply to  Hivemind
October 15, 2016 7:25 am

Yes, I live in Rockport Maine, and we had a booming ice business based on cutting ice from Lily Pond, a small lake close enough to the harbor to just drag the ice over to the wharfs to be packed in sawdust and shipped south. The local museum still has the saws on sleds that were used to make the clean cuts for rectangular blocks. The industry was wiped out by refrigeration, of course, but in its day Lilly Pond ice had a great reputation for quality and purity.
And of course, made with very little CO2 emissions, unlike the ‘coal-powered’ (electricity-produced) ice we use today /sarc off

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Bishkek
October 14, 2016 6:44 pm

Toronto is obviously more advanced than California North. The denizens of office towers in downtown Toronto, known locally in chaff-talk as ‘the downtown core’ have been expanding their snow-cooled air con systems each year. They collect the snow, that portion of it that doesn’t melt naturally, and dump it in Lake Ontario.
In the lake it does its magical thermodynamic thing and cools the lower strata to about 4 degrees C. This cold water is pumped through heat exchangers in the ‘downtown core’ buildings where it picks up heat and is returned to the surface of the lake at a temperature that pleases fish.
It is a climate change and control fantasy scale engineering project that actually works. The more it warms, the more it will snow, we are told. Great. We will use snow and the lake and the pumps to keep cool.
It is the inverse of district heating, an idea that has totally escaped those same Torontonians.

Mark McCraley
October 14, 2016 7:41 pm

So a small house will use an air conditioner that is 2 tons, running half over 12 the time it generates 6 tons of cooling. 6 tons means 6 tons of frozen water has to melt evey day to keep a house cool. Over summer that is 540 tons of snow. Where am I going to keep 540 tons of snow, and probably my twice that to account for outdoor melting.

October 14, 2016 8:22 pm

I just quickly went through their published paper. It is about environmental impacts of snow storage based HVAC systems by considering all the material needs from extraction to end of life, transportation, production energy etc. It seems snow storage systems are practically used in Sweden and Japan in commercial scale. I agree with the authors that this technology is environmentally beneficial, but might not feasible commercially in Canada yet due to relatively low energy prices.

Patrick MJD
October 14, 2016 10:51 pm

“While further research is needed, the potential of this type of system to be used for large buildings and institutions looks promising,” says Rehan Sadiq, a professor of engineering at UBC’s campus in Kelowna.”
Please sir, can I have some more (Funding)?

October 14, 2016 11:08 pm

I seem to recall some places had outlawed rain buckets because they stole water from the city. I cant foresee these same crazies giving up their snow melt.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  pkatt
October 15, 2016 3:00 am

In Australia, people who have rain water collection tanks pay water rates. Serial!

Carbon BIgfoot
Reply to  Patrick MJD
October 15, 2016 11:52 am

Gee the next thing they’ll tax is the air.

October 15, 2016 12:32 am

While I hate to link to the Grauniad,
How exactly is their research significantly different from what the Mongolians tried on a much larger scale? Without models, even.

Craig Loehle
October 15, 2016 6:55 am

And we could use blocks of ice in a box and put our food in it instead of a refrigerator…oh, wait…

Dave in Canmore
October 15, 2016 7:39 am

The press release keeps referring to this nonsense as a “study” For example they say
“what this study shows.”
The exercise in question is not a study and it in fact, does not “show” us anything.
How is it that a couple guys can make wild speculations, but if they do it near a computer at a public institution, those wild guesses become a “study” that shows us something?!!!

October 15, 2016 8:07 am

Boston MA had 108″ of snowfall in 2014/2015, some 2.5 meters. One of their snow dumps (snow farms!) lasted until July!

It had a good layer of insulation from curbside trash, patio furniture used to mark parking spaces residents cleared, drain covers, etc.

October 15, 2016 8:17 am

The Rockywold/Deephaven Camp on Squam Lake (Golden Pond to movie buffs) still harvests ice for ice boxes in their cabins.

October 15, 2016 8:18 am

Oops – forgot to mention, New Hampshire.

Reply to  Ric Werme
October 16, 2016 8:55 pm

so does removing the ice from the lake cause it to warm up faster when spring finally arrives?

Reply to  probono
October 17, 2016 7:07 am

It should actually cause the lake to cool down faster since the ice acts as an insulator and protects the underlying water from getting colder from the air.

Carbon BIgfoot
October 15, 2016 11:49 am

IDD. If your comment was (sarc) indicate so. Otherwise your comment was moronic. Put foot in mouth sideways suffer the consequences.

Carbon BIgfoot
October 15, 2016 12:50 pm

In the early 80’s my engineering firm designed an off-peak HVAC Ice Building Storage System for a College in SE Pennsylvania. The refrigeration (compressors) operated at metered reduced rates between 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM. During that time ICE was fused in a proprietary insulated heat exchange vessel. Chilled water was then circulated on demand during the day to unit ventilators in the building that housed the cafeteria and food prep.
I marvel at the fact that it has taken the World almost 40 years to catch up to measures we considered routine in my practice.

Reply to  Carbon BIgfoot
October 16, 2016 9:14 pm

That system didn’t save energy. It just used it at off-peak times.

Svend Ferdinandsen
October 15, 2016 5:21 pm

If they can sell it in California, it is ok with me.
Ice huts of straw was common in older times in Danmark, to save ice from lakes, so that you could make ice cream during the summer. It vanished like the old windmills, when other options became cheaper and more reliable.

Johann Wundersamer
October 15, 2016 11:00 pm

‘There’s only one problem, most housing and office infrastructure isn’t setup to handle snow storage, and snow is most often stored in parking lots. What’s even funnier is that they had to use a model to try this….in Canada, a place where snow piles are abundant,’
Seemingly such studies never aim to get realized for practical use;
They just ‘proof’ models running on supercomputers are always needed and this years capacity min. is next years demand.
So the real achievement of this ‘studies’ is – to find employment for computer capacities.

Johann Wundersamer
October 15, 2016 11:11 pm

Interestingly claciers are melting but snow piles north of 50° ain’t.
Something odd with global climate, certainly suggests avenues of further investigation.

October 16, 2016 8:52 pm

you mean it doesn’t already?

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  probono
October 17, 2016 3:53 am

I mean there’s no /sarc needed. Smile.

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