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Laboratory Investigation of Different Insulating Materials Used for Snow Storage

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Author list: Danvind, Jonas;Nilsson, Kajsa;Skoglund, Per
Publication year: 2019
ISSN: 0887-381X

Abstract

Storage of snow has become of increasing interest for the winter business industry. Covering a pile of snow with an insulating material protects the snow from heat transfer from the surroundings and reduces the melting. Storing snow enables ski resorts to set an opening date, and it can also be used to secure winter sports events that are dependent on snow. Cover materials that are commonly used as insulation are wood-based materials, such as sawdust, and textile materials and sheets. How efficiently a cover material functions as thermal insulation depends on the material characteristics and thickness of the insulating layer. In this study, results from a laboratory experiment are presented, which aimed at comparing different commonly used cover materials, as well as some other materials that have not previously been used as thermal insulation on snow. Different layer thicknesses were also investigated. The results show that the insulating capacity of sawdust is reduced with time. Despite degrading insulating properties with time, sawdust is still considered one of the best materials to use as insulation on snow, and it is also more efficient than the textile materials investigated in this study. Doubling the textile layers or adding a three-dimensional (3D) spacer textile, which implies adding a layer of air between the textile and the snow, reduces the snow melting. Water absorption, water transport, and evaporation of water affect the melting. In this work, evaporative cooling did not prove to reduce melting; therefore, it was not evident whether a textile material should be permeable. An interesting material used in the study was Quartzene, which absorbed all the melt water and protected the snow most efficiently of the materials tested.


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