Snow guns

Snow guns are just one of the many components in a snow-making system. Many components and elements must be fully synchronized with each other in order to supply the snow guns with the correct quantities of water, compressed air and electricity at the correct pressure, in the right place and at the right time.

 

TechnoAlpin supplies three different types of snow generators:
Fan guns
Snow lances
Snow Factory

The principle of snow generation is the same for fan guns and snow lances. This machine-generated snow simulates natural snowfall in that the "nucleators" produce a mixture of water and compressed air which expands in the atmosphere, allowing nuclides (= snow nuclei) to develop. At the same time, the nozzles atomize water into fine droplets, which combine with the nuclides and freeze to form small snow crystals on their way down to the ground.

 

Nature also needs to play its part for the snow-making process to function correctly. Both air temperature and air humidity play an important role. The term used in snow-making technology is wet bulb temperature which is a combination of temperature and relative humidity. The more humid the air, the less moisture it can absorb. This means that when atmospheric humidity is high, lower temperatures are required in order to be able to produce snow. TechnoAlpin snow guns function from a wet bulb temperature of -2.5°C upwards. At a lower level of atmospheric humidity of 20% this wet bulb temperature of -2.5°C will already be reached at +3°C. At a high level of atmospheric humidity of 90%, however, temperatures of -2°C are needed in order to arrive at the wet bulb temperature of -2.5°C. This means that, at a low level of atmospheric humidity, the snow-making process also functions at temperatures slightly above zero, but at a high level of atmospheric humidity temperatures below freezing point are needed. Temperatures around freezing point are said to be limit or marginal temperatures.

 

The water temperature is also a key factor for the snow-making process at marginal temperatures. Cooling towers are used to bring the water to an optimum temperature in order to increase the efficiency of the system or to be able to put it into operation even earlier.

In addition to the outdoor conditions, time is another key factor. Natural snowfall has a few minutes to form flakes but the machine-generated snow has much less time. With the fan guns, the necessary time is created with the aid of a propeller which, as the name suggests, acts as a fan. The lances work with a greater drop height of up to 10 meters.

 

Another difference between the snow guns lies in their field of application. The installation of the right snow gun in the right location is a key issue. Selecting the most suitable snow gun depends on the temperature, the slope width, the amount of snow required, the gradient of the terrain and the wind situation, etc.

 

Both fan guns and snow lances are available as manually adjustable or fully automated models. Both types can produce a range of different snow qualities (from completely dry to wet).

In addition to these two established snow guns, TechnoAlpin introduced the Snow Factory in 2014, a snow gun for above-zero temperatures. This snow gun is not intended as a replacement for classic snow generation but as an addition. The Snow Factory is suitable for events or for relatively small slope sections and Nordic centers.

 

Unlike the established snow guns, the Snow Factory does not produce snow as such, but rather small dry ice flakes which coat the slope using a conveyor or propeller.

The colloquially used term "snow cannon" is not to be understood as a synonym for snow gun, as it usually only relates to fan guns and does not include snow lances. The term "artificial snow" should also be used with caution in that machine-generated snow, like natural snow, consists only of the elements water and air. Artificial snow tends to be used for the kind used in films which is made of plastic or polystyrene. The correct term for snow made from snow-making equipment would be "technical snow" or "machine-generated snow".