Snowmaking technology as a basis for winter sports

Nowadays, snowmaking technology is fundamental for winter tourism. Without snow-making systems, the slopes would no longer be able to meet today's increased demands. TechnoAlpin therefore guarantees optimum snow quality on slopes and facilitates accurate planning of season opening times for ski resorts.

Technical snow consists of nothing more than water and air. In this respect, it is no different from natural snow. Snow guns are used to simulate snowfall and the crystallization of snowflakes. TechnoAlpin supplies three different types of snow generators: snow guns, snow lances and the Snowfactory, which is a snow generator for warm temperatures.

Snowmaking technology involves the use of nucleators which produce a mixture of water and compressed air which forms snow nuclei (nuclides) on entering the atmosphere. The nozzles on snow guns atomize the water into fine droplets which combine with the nuclides and freeze into small snow crystals on their way down to the ground. This fall is simulated differently by different snow guns. Fan guns are fitted with an air blower for this purpose while snow lances use the natural drop height of up to 10 meters.

As with natural snowfall, air temperature and air humidity need to fulfill certain requirements for technical production of snow. The term used in snow-making technology is therefore the wet bulb temperature which expresses the ratio of temperature to relative air humidity. The wet bulb temperature is always below the outside temperature. The damper the air, the less moisture it can absorb and the colder it must be to form snow crystals form the fine droplets of water.

TechnoAlpin snow guns start producing snow from a wet bulb temperature of -2.5 °C. If the atmospheric humidity is very low, this level can be reached at temperatures slightly above zero but if the air humidity is high, sub-zero temperatures are required. Temperatures around freezing point are referred to as borderline temperatures or limit temperatures. The water temperature is also a key factor, especially at these limit temperatures. Cooling towers are therefore used to reach the optimum water temperature and to increase the efficiency of a snow-making system.

Snow guns are just one of the many components in a snow-making system. Therefore it is necessary for various components to be perfectly matched and coordinated with each other so that the snow guns will be supplied with the right amount of water at the right time and at the right pressure.

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The right snow gun in the right place

It is essential to select the right snow gun in order to fully exploit the geographical conditions and the available resources. The individual solution and the choice of snow guns and snow lances in any given case will depend on the temperature, the slope width, the amount of snow required, the gradient of the terrain and the wind situation. Both types of snow gun are available as fully automatic or manually adjustable models and can be used to produce a range of different snow qualities (from completely dry to wet). The research department at TechnoAlpin is always trying to come up with ways to make the TechnoAlpin snow guns even more efficient. The aim is to produce more snow with the resources used in order to cut costs and protect the environment.

In addition to these two established snow guns, TechnoAlpin introduced the Snowfactory in 2014, a snow gun for warm temperatures. This snow machine is not intended as a substitute for classic techniques but is more of an addition to the possible applications of snow-making technology. The Snowfactory is mainly suitable for events, for snow coverage on relatively small slope sections, and Nordic centers.