TechnoAlpin’s snow-making plant ensures perfect snow when and where it’s needed

Monday, January 6, 2020

Without perfect snow, competitors at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will not be able to compete at their best: So, to ensure the optimal sporting conditions at the Olympic Games, Danfoss VLT® AC drives will help shift 330,000 m3 of water that will be turned into perfect snow using TechnoAlpin SpA’s snow-making plant.

Learn how Danfoss contributes to creating perfect sporting conditions at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing

Learn how Danfoss contributes to creating perfect sporting conditions at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing

The most exciting competitions demand perfect race conditions
Reconstruction of the topography of the Xiaohaituo mountain, on which 23 km of race tracks will be built.

The most exciting competitions demand perfect race conditions

The organizers of world-class sporting events are well aware of this and can’t risk abnormal weather conditions compromising the spectacle and attraction of their events. By using a programmed snow-making system using the only natural elements available at any particular moment, which are water and air, an optimal quality snow can be guaranteed for competitions.

The Winter Olympics are a perfect example: Organizers simply cannot risk years of planning being jeopardized by weather conditions – which can only be predicted with any certainty, just days before a competition.

New Yanqing Olympic area

In the Yanqing district, about 90 km from Beijing, the new Xiaohaituo mountain ski area is being built to host the alpine skiing competitions of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

To ensure perfect snow conditions along the 23 km of planned race and connecting tracks, the Chinese Olympic Committee launched an international competition to select the most suitable technical partner to carry out such an ambitious project. The Italian company, TechnoAlpin was chosen thanks to its nearly 30 years’ experience in building snow-making systems and creating turnkey solutions for ski resorts.

Markus Pfeifer, Head of Process Engineering of TechnoAlpin, says:

“The Chinese Olympic Committee has recognized and appreciated our specific skills in the field of programmed snow-making, gained by providing solutions to over 2,400 customers worldwide. Our approach is always collaborative: The customer knows his mountains well, and we know how to produce good snow on schedule. Understanding the local air flows and the raw water supply capacities available on site makes it possible to carefully define the best type of plant for each area: Each mountain has its specific conditions, which must be understood and enhanced to arrive at an optimal snow-making solution.”

Perfect snow, where and when it’s needed
View of the main pumping station, located downstream of the plant.

Perfect snow, where and when it’s needed

Snow is a natural phenomenon. What the programmed snow-making systems do is recreate natural conditions, so that the snow is formed at the right time and distributed evenly where it is needed on the slopes.

In the Xiaohaituo mountain area, TechnoAlpin is building a snow-making system capable of creating a perfect 1m deep snow base on the competition slopes for alpine skiing in the Olympics. These began operating in the fall 2019, ready for the first sporting events to be held in the area.

For the snowmaking on the 23 km of slopes on the Xiaohaituo mountain, a collection basin capable of containing 330,000 m3 of water has been created, with the aim of transforming it into 700,000 m3 of snow over a period of about 70 hours.

 “Our project involved the installation of 130 fan-driven snow generators, which will be fed by water collected in an artificial basin located near the valley station at 1,300 m. The water, when appropriately refrigerated, will reach all fan generators, up to the highest mountain station at 2,150 m, using a distribution network that includes three pumping stations located at different altitudes and connected in series between them.” Markus Pfeifer continues.

TechnoAlpin has chosen Danfoss VLT® HVAC Drive FC 102 to pilot the numerous pumps that distribute the chilled water to the fan-driven snow generators. The main pumping room downstream of the plant houses 15 500 kW machines flanked by five backup machines.

In total, it’s a water circulation system with a combined electrical power of 20 MW which, although it operates for only a few hours a year, must absolutely guarantee a high level of reliability and efficiency.

Compact and reliable drives

Compact and reliable drives

The choice of VLT® HVAC Drive FC 102 for driving water circulation pumps is the result of an effective collaboration between the technical capabilities of TechnoAlpin and the local Danfoss organization, who selected and optimized the most suitable solutions to meet the demanding requirements of this plant.

“In our plant, we need drives that on the one hand guarantee exceptional reliability requirements - for example they can restart without problems, even after long months of non-use in rarely manned, unconditioned environments - and on the other, that are extremely compact, as they are always installed in inaccessible, difficult to reach areas. High efficiency combined with the harmonic reduction capability introduced into the network were factors that made the difference when choosing Danfoss drives. Another feature of Danfoss drives that we greatly appreciate is their compatibility with every type of motor and their open communication protocols, which allow us to access all the internal variables that we need to optimize our control algorithms for snowmaking,” says Markus Pfeifer.  

Learn about the VLT® HVAC Drive FC 102 used in this snow-making plant

  • Enhanced VLT® HVAC Drive FC 102
    VLT® HVAC Drive FC 102

    This tough and savvy FC102 drive enhances pump and fan applications in building management systems, and runs outdoors in most climates.

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