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How Air Compressors Are Used in Snowmaking

How Air Compressors Are Used in Snowmaking

Nothing says winter quite like snow. Each year millions of cubic feet of snow are produced by ski resorts around the world to supplement natural snow and extend the ski season. Compressed air systems are critical to the snowmaking process, and one of the greatest costs in operating ski season.  

There are several benefits to man-made snow. One, it helps insulate the entire snowpack better, which retains the overall quality of the surface snow, including the coveted favorite-light, fluffy powder. Plus, the extra groundwater that the snowmaking provides after ski season helps to inhibit forest fires too.  

Many resorts have miles of underground piping where water and compressed air travel to snow guns around the ski slopes. Snowmaking machines usually operate at 100 percent capacity or are turned off. Once the air temperature dips below 32 degrees, the snowmaking system is turned on to maximize the production of snow.  

The snowmaking process entails forcing water and compressed air through a snow gun, which then blows into the air at below-freezing temperatures to create snow. Compressed air serves three major functions when creating snow. It atomizes the water, which disrupts the stream so that the water splits into tons of tiny droplets, forming snowflakes. Furthermore, compressed air blows and cools the droplets of water into the air.  

Approximately 75% of the snowmaking process cost is compressed air, meaning operators need the most efficient system imaginable. Compressed air facilities for snowmaking can range between 500 horsepower for small operations and up to over 10,000 horsepower for larger operations. Upgrading and utilizing new electric centrifugal air compressors help improve efficiency.  Additionally, users should choose oil-free air compressors to prevent environmental contamination and potentially obstructing the snowmaking process.   

Air compressors are a critical component of the winter ski season and snowmaking process, used by small and large resorts worldwide. To learn more about compressed air systems and producing snow, locate and contact your channel partner at https://www.fs-elliott.com/channel-partner-locator

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