Monday, October 20, 2008

IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker for Zermatt tested

The new snow machine will be put into operation next month to offset the bad snow conditions of the late autumn in the glacier piste. The snow is being used to make a path between the bottom of its high altitude glacier and the cable car station from where skiers and boarders can get back up the slopes to access the year round ski area. In years gone by the glacier did reach this lift station anyway, but over the past two decades it has melted away and in late autumn, around the beginning of October, the glacier piste ends 500m before the lift station.
Zermatt Bergbahnen was the first ski resort to order a new kind of artificial snow system: the IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker. Later Pitztal Gletscherbahnen was the second Company to order, following Zermatt’s footsteps, the snowmaker. IDE Technologies is a world leader and pioneer in water desalination, wastewater concentrators and purifiers. The snowmaking technology comes from the mining industry where it is used to cool the goldmines.
CEO Zermatt Bergbahnen Christen Baumann explains how it works: "To put it simply it works like a freezer. The temperature of the surrounding air is irrelevant. In a closed container with a diameter of 3.2m and a height of 10m, water is exposed to a vacuum without any additives. A small portion vaporizes, the remaining water freezes to snow, which is afterwards expelled at a rate of about 40 cubic metres every hour. The snow produced has the consistency of a wet spring snow". IDE’s All Weather Snowmaker is a unique, environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient solution. The energy it requires for a year is the equivalent to that of one household.
The new snow machine, which is produced in Israel, had a delivery period of one year and costs around CHF 2 million (EUR 1.19 million).