Those mountains of snow melting at dumps around the city might be good for something after all.


The city is examining the possibility of using a cost-effective "cold energy" snow cooling system to replace air conditioning in its largest cooled building at 100 Constellation Cres.


Robert Vaillancourt, the city's manager of design and construction for buildings and parks, said the economics of the technology would not make it feasible for most buildings in the city.


The city's study would determine what technologies already on the marketplace could be applied to reduce the cooling costs.


"That is where the snow dumps become of interest," he said. "They represent a huge resource of cold energy."

The largest limitation on using snow dumps are that they are usually placed far from the users and taking cold energy from snow dumps requires a huge storage space.

Mostly likely, he said the city's pilot project would use "ice ball technology" that would use spears of snow mixed with a "secret ingredient liquid" that would enable it to freeze at temperatures above zero, so it freezes at night and cools during the day.

Dr. Fred Michel, director of the Institute of Environmental Science at Carleton University, said the technology is still in its early stages.

He said North America is trailing the rest of the world. The most prominent use of the technology is in Sweden, where a hospital is using it for comfort cooling.