Sunday, December 08, 2013


On Friday night Kyle Hoppe, the ASC energy engineer gave a talk about the past, present, and future of energy use on Antarctica. They've done much to reduce energy use everywhere (no-flush urinals, high efficiency lights, etc.) and are working on new ways to save and create energy.

They're examining the environmental impact of an incinerator for McMurdo. It would burn cardboard and wood products which would otherwise need to be shipped back North for recycling.

McMurdo and neighboring Scott Base (run by New Zealand) already have a common power grid. Antarctica New Zealand is eager to add 5 windmills in addition to the 3 which are already running and supplying most of Scott Base's energy needs.

Windmills are apparently major sources of EMI (electro-magnetic interference), which has kept them from being used at Pole due to all the sensitive scientific instruments. Companies are starting to market products to filter the EMI produced so we might see large windmills at the Pole in the next decade.

WIPAC (the new UW supergroup which includes IceCube) are doing their part. Part of my job this season is helping to install new servers which are more powerful but also more energy efficient.

The Askaryen Radio Array is a 5 kilometer neutrino detector located above and beyond IceCube. They're still in the experimental phase, but because their instruments are located so far from the station they're looking at using a combination of windmills and batteries to power these distant stations.

My colleague Matt Newcomb is looking at adding solar panels to the two ICL towers. These would wrap completely around the towers and provide power all summer long

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