Snow-melting containers can offer a new road to a cleaner winter, Source: Helsinki Municipality

For cleaner winter: Helsinki to test a new snow-melting device

For cleaner winter: Helsinki to test a new snow-melting device

Although we are still in the grip of summer, authorities in the Finnish capital are already thinking about the challenges of the icy season

Solving snow accumulation is hardly on anyone’s mind but the government of Helsinki wants to be prepared for this inevitable phenomenon, which every winter causes a hurdle to mobility on the city’s streets. The problem is also compounded by the question of what to do with those heaps of snow.

Until now, the cleaning crews have dealt with this by dumping the collected snow into the sea. It seems like a simple and natural solution, but it is actually a source of pollution since the snow contains various urban debris.

This upcoming winter, the authorities have decided to test a machine called snowmelter, which is a large container where snow and ice get unloaded and as the name indicates – melted.

What are the benefits of using a snowmelter?

The container melts snow using the return energy of district heat and filters and cleans the melted snow of impurities. With the help of the container, the vast majority of garbage such as plastic, sand and wreaths can be separated from the snow.

In one day, the device can melt approximately 100–150 loads of snow. That would mean around 2,000-3,000 loads during the winter. Snow is transported to the area mainly at night.

The operation may increase wintertime traffic in the area, but overall, if scaled up, it would actually mean fewer trips, as previously snow needed to be dumped in the sea and not all neighbourhoods are near the coast.

However, before implementing the new device, the authorities are keen to discuss the solution with the residents. The snowmelter will first be tested throughout the winter in the district of Jätkäsaari. In that regard, the City is inviting local residents to an online event (on 7 September) where it will be explained how the machine works.

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