Recycling Snowmelt Back Into Snow?

Luke Guilford | | Industry NewsIndustry News
ReNewSnow’s model to delivering recycled snowmelt back to the mountain. Photo Credit: ReNewSnow’s Website

ReNewSnow’s technology allows ski areas to make fresh snow with recycled snowmelt. This new snowmaking technique is designed for ski areas to recover from warm periods quicker, reduce their environmental footprint, and reduce the cost of snowmaking. The principle behind the technology is simple; collect water from snowmelt runoff high on the mountain and reuse it for snowmaking. 

How do they collect snowmelt runoff? Warmer weather, and sometimes rain, will melt the snow cover, causing runoff underneath the snowpack. ReNewSnow’s SnowPod™ then collects the runoff as it flows down the mountain into springs and streams. The elevation difference and the aid of a booster pump create pressure to force the recycled snowmelt out of the snow gun. 

The SnowPod™ keeps the instrumentation negatively pressured (-7 psi), allowing the snowmelt to flow through the system and towards the snow guns. The SnowPod™ is designed to replace large pumps that are typically used to draw from lower-elevation reservoirs, potentially saving more than 80% of energy costs associated with snowmaking. Also, the SnowPod™ is cost-efficient by its ability to extract energy from the running water to power the electronics and to keep the space inside relatively warm.

A SnowPod™ installed at Saddleback Mountain. Photo Credit: ReNewSnow’s Website

Saddleback Mountain became a test site for ReNewSnow. In October of 2022, construction started to install a ReNewSnow setup, complete with a snow gun and SnowPod™. ReNewSnow said this on their plan for the test site. “Our SnowPod prototype test has two primary goals. First, we want to demonstrate that we can make snow using snowmelt flowing down the stream shown in the photo. Second, we need to validate our high-elevation water availability model.”

Saddleback Mountain utilized the technology in early January after the mountain experienced temperatures over 50°F a week earlier. This warm period created an opportunity for ReNewSnow to recycle the strong flowing snowmelt. In 10 hours of operation, the snow gun recycled over 10,000 gallons of snowmelt back to the mountain in the form of snow. ReNewSnow hopes to recycle approximately 100 million gallons per year at Saddleback Mountain, more snow than they typically make in an entire season. Additionally, ReNewSnow claims this is the first time a ski area has been able to make fresh snow from recycled snowmelt.

Check out ReNewSnow to learn more about their technology. 

Environmentally friendly snowmaking
ReNewSnow’s technology in action at Saddleback Mountain. Photo Credit: ReNewSnow’s Website

Related Articles

Got an opinion? Let us know...