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EcoArtiSnow Interview

“To ensure that our goals could be achieved, before getting started we analysed the physical processes involved in snow crystal formation in the atmosphere”

We spoke to Florian...
Where does the name of the project come from, and what was the collaboration with the other companies like?

Florian Stuffer_Project Management Manager: “The project started between 2010 and 2011. Demaclenko wanted to get involved in a project organised at European level. To enable this to happen, we got in touch with the Fraunhofer Institute with the aim of cooperating across frontiers with companies abroad on larger-scale projects. During the initial stages we also sought cooperation with Profactor, an Austrian firm operating in the noise control and energy sector. To complete the circle, we also involved two of our suppliers. Partial results were tested in Switzerland by a customer of DemacLenko Switzerland. The name “EcoArtiSnow” brings to fruition our objective of producing snow as economically and ecologically as possible, and was conceived by DemacLenko and the Fraunhofer Institute.”

A very important goal for the future – in the end, what were the results of the research?

Florian Stuffer_Project Management Manager: “The most important results of the research can be summarised as follows: The analysis of current data records enabled us to investigate and define the process of snow formation. Thanks to a more efficient fan design, we were able to reduce noise to an absolute minimum, and increase the machine's efficiency. The nucleation or nozzle system was optimised, resulting in improved snow quality and more efficient system operation. A further result was the investigation of alternative cooling methods for water and air, without electrical power.”

We have already talked about the aims of the project – are there any further goals that you are pursuing?

Florian Stuffer_Project Management Manager: “We have agreed on two further goals, in addition to those mentioned above. The first of these was to enable technical snowmaking to start at higher threshold temperatures, and so to expand the temperature range. We also wished to improve snow quality while lowering energy consumption, and to reduce noise emissions. The second, more distant goal was and is to investigate the possibility of generating different types of snow crystals.”

It all sounds very complex – how can the agreed goals be achieved in practice?

Florian Stuffer_Project Management Manager: “To ensure that our goals could be achieved, before getting started we analysed the physical processes involved in snow crystal formation in the atmosphere. Where the fan guns are concerned, we focused chiefly on the turbine and fans, or on the nozzle ring and nozzles. For the lances, we turned our attention to the lance head and its nucleators.”

“As an exchange of ideas was extremely important in this project, you must also have met up now and again….”

Florian Stuffer_Project Management Manager: “Yes, we met up regularly at various locations, so that we could work on the findings together. Here, we submitted and discussed new drafts, and tested them on the machines during cold spells. In April 2014, the project was successfully completed and optimisations were put forward, some of which could already be quickly put into practice.”

“To what extent could “EcoArtiSnow” optimise the snowmaking process, and what are the results of the research?”

Florian Stuffer _Project Management Manager: “The greatest asset from our research is undoubtedly the optimisation of the nucleator nozzle. Once we had established that only droplets of a size within a certain range can be employed as the nucleus for snowmaking, we ensured that the nucleator nozzle now only produces droplets of the relevant size.”

“Even professionals can expect a surprise every so often, was that the case for you?"

Florian Stuffer_Project Management Manager: “Yes, (chuckling) you're right, that's how it was for us. When it came to the turbine tube, the project brought several surprises to light. A turbine that is perfectly designed for an optimum flow is ideal where energy consumption and noise are concerned, but may be counterproductive as regards the generation of snowflakes and the quality of the snow. Therefore, when optimising the turbine we also have to consider how the properties of the nozzles interact.”

“How is “EcoArtiSnow” helping DemacLenko to make a stand against climate change?”

Florian Stuffer_Project Management Manager: “With “EcoArtiSnow”, we can also produce snow at threshold temperatures, and it also optimises the quantity of snow produced at warm temperatures.”

“What benefits can the customer expect from “EcoArtiSnow”?”

Florian Stuffer_Project Management Manager: “The customer can expect an all-round better performance in snow production and of the machine. This translates as time and money savings in snowmaking. The quantity of snow is increased while temperatures remain the same, and with a lower energy consumption, enabling customers to save money.”

“What were the most exciting moments of the project?”

Florian Stuffer_Project Management Manager: “The most exciting moments were, without a doubt, the prototype test and the measurement of droplet size from the nucleators. Thanks to the new method of droplet size measurement, we were able to achieve genuinely amazing results, which could not be analysed using conventional techniques.”
Maria Lerchegger
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