Snow problem!

ow plough on test tracks

While much of Britain struggled to cope with recent heavy snow, Bruntingthorpe Proving Ground welcomed every flake as one of its customers went to work – testing a revolutionary snow-blower!

 “The snow provided perfect conditions for the tests,” said Paul Atkin, general manager – business development.  “We try to make our demanding test facilities as realistic and real-world as possible.  But we have to thank Mother Nature on this occasion.”

 The snow-blower – now under-going trials at Kiruna airport in northern Sweden after being launched at Stockholm-Arlanda airport on Friday (9th December) – is the world’s first fuelled by biogas and is well on the way to becoming the first carbon-neutral snow removal vehicle.

 Four companies have been involved in producing the unique snow-blower – SCHMIDT of Germany, one of the leading producers of snow-clearance equipment; Swedavia, operators of several airports in Sweden; truck and engine manufacturers Volvo and its UK partner for development of duel-fuel engines, Clean Air Power Ltd.  It was Clean Air who brought the snow-blower to Bruntingthorpe to test the vehicle’s two converted Volvo engines, which can run on ‘clean’ biogas and biodiesel.

 Traction power for the A25E articulated hauler from Volvo Construction Equipment, on which the snow-blower is based, comes from a 9-litre Volvo diesel engine converted to operate on biogas.  In the back of the vehicle is a similar engine from Volvo Penta to power the sweeper and blowing unit that shoots away remaining snow at a speed of 130 m/s.

 Bertil Ekhaga, machinery fleet operations manager at Stockholm-Arlanda airport said: “This is the first vehicle of its kind in the world.  It does exactly everything existing snow removal vehicles do but with the major difference that it can run on biogas – the first step toward zero emissions for heavy equipment like this.”

 The snow-blower removes a 4.75-metre-wide swathe of snow from airport runways.  “It is incredibly effective,” said Atkin.  “And for the aviation industry – which is under severe pressure to reduce greenhouse emissions as well as keeping runways open in bad weather – it does both as we saw during the tests on our own runway last week.”

 René Wender, product manager at SCHMIDT, said: “Every reduction of CO2 is appreciated by operators.  The number of ground handlers looking out for green techniques to improve their CO2 footprint is growing steadily.  It’s all about two major issues – sustainability and economic well being.“