Many regions in the Alps and other mountain areas face decreasing winter periods because of climate change. Artificial snowmaking is of vital importance to support their economies. However, high energy demands and operating costs in addition to high noise emissions hinder the widespread use of the technology. Against this backdrop, a research institute along with six industry partners initiated the EU-funded project ECOARTISNOW. The project represented a multi-barrier approach to establish a new generation of snowmaking equipment that is silent and allows producing high-quality snow with reduced energy consumption. ECOARTISNOW significantly improved understanding of the snowmaking process, especially with respect to acoustics, thermodynamics, spray processes and fluid dynamics. A new gun prototype was developed with an optimised blower design, and new designs of nucleators, water nozzles and ring nozzles. Computational fluid dynamic simulations enabled scientists to develop and optimise nucleators and nozzles to achieve better snow quality and greater power efficiency. The design of the new nozzle–nucleator system allowed producing higher-quality snow while maintaining the water throughput. Higher water throughput at a given snow quality was also possible, making the snow generator more efficient. Scientists placed focus on optimising the geometry of the snow generator's blower to reduce sound emission during operation. Alternative air and water cooling methods were installed on the machine. In particular, scientists investigated a passive cooling system for the feed water and compressed air. Based on phase-change materials and heat pipes, the module allowed control of the fluid temperature and prevented water freezing. ECOARTISNOW's prototype system consumed 15 % less energy and lowered noise emissions by 25 % compared to the state of the art. Due to being eco-friendly and low cost, this snowmaking technology is expected to be widely used in ski resorts, boosting the economies of regions with poor snowfall.
Snowmaking equipment, artificial snowmaking, noise emissions, energy consumption, snow generator