The winter months are some of the busiest travel times of the year, but they’re also the most likely time for an aeroplane to be delayed. The culprit? Icy runways. Wouldn’t it be nice and efficient if we could take some of the excess summer heat, save it, and use it to thaw out airports in the winter? Some of the busiest airports in the world are considering doing just that.
London’s Heathrow Airport, the third-busiest in the entire world, is considering implementing using summer heat to thaw winter ice, using a technique called inter-seasonal heat transfer. Around since the 1970s, only recently has the technology advanced to the point where it’s feasible. It works like this: excess heat from hot pavement is transferred through fluid-filled pipes to storage tanks far underground. There, the ground does the heavy insulation, and when hot fluid is needed again, it can be easily recalled with a heat pump.
But not everyone is convinced; the FAA in the US doesn’t think it will be cost effective and there are plenty of people who don’t see a need for another solution when salt and snowplows de-ice pavement every year. Regardless, it’s simply efficient to optimally redistribute unused heat from one season to another, even if some plow kings aren’t pleased with the plan. Though if they could ever save raw sunshine from the summer, then you wouldn’t even need to fly for a winter getaway. [Fast Company, Telegraph, ICAX]