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« Edison's Predictions for the Year 2011 (1911) | Main | [apocalypse] »

The Sno-Melter (1960)

Having recently moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis, my experience with snow this year has been limited to pixel-drenched dispatches that family and friends have beamed out from the unforgiving tundra. With historic blizzards, closed schools and caved in stadiums it sounds like the snowy season has been off to a punishing start in my homeland. It's times like these when I gaze at my "What Would Arthur Radebaugh Do?" bracelet. Burn the snow, of course! Kill it with fire!

Snow piles and drifts on highways and turnpikes may soon be a thing of the past. Esso Research and Engineering Company has already devised a system for clearing urban roadways that is reported to be cheaper than under-pavement steam or electric coils. A trough is built alongside the road and kept half-filled with water which is heated by oil and air fed units at the bottom. Snow channeled into the trough melts instantly.

Variations of this system can be evolved for cross-country roads. Flame-belching snow-melting highway equipment is even now on the drawing boards.

Next week: Circle Runways

Many thanks to Tom Z. for the color version of this Closer Than We Think panel from January 3, 1960.


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    Paleofuture - Paleofuture Blog - The Sno-MelterĀ (1960),Qhov no tsab xov xwm no twb sau ib daim ntawv lub kos yog Txawm li cas los, yog hais tias koj xav saib lwm yam khoom koj yuav tau saib cov ntaub ntawv ntawm no:Hollister,
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Reader Comments (16)

This is one of those "came true" ones. When I lived in Toronto, they had machines very like this, called Metro Melters. They weren't quite as snazzy-looking as this specimen, but the basic concept was the same.

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobert

How many semi trailers full of fuel is this thing dragging? Maybe it isn't as efficient as a plow.

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSeth Deitch

This machine is an incredible example of science versus nature.
The best part? The driver's smoking a pipe.

December 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWill Schenck

Yeah, why just easily push the snow to one side when you can melt it and create a miles-long icy slick?

At least after a few years' worth of these hydrocarbon-guzzling snow melters, the greenhouse effect will take care of snow removal for good!

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWutzke

I hate the snow season, so this is one VERY welcome invention whose time has come!

I will pay for the darn thing to be built, okay?

December 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHiyram

Never seen anything like this for real but agreed, we it's definetely about time we had something like this invented. It's surprising this hasn't been introduced already.

December 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGamer417 {Geoff}

1 gallon of oil burned at 100% efficiency will melt nearly 1000 lbs of snow.
dry blowing snow weighs about 5 lbs/cuft

So a road lane 10 feet wide with 1 foot of snow on it has 50 lbs of snow per foot.
The comic shows more like 4 feet.

So this gizmo would get maybe 50 feet to the gallon.
Each of those 10,000 gallon trailers would be good for close to 10 miles of road.
No wonder Esso thought it was such a good idea.

December 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRSweeney

this is the kind of fantasy that can only spring forth from minds that cannot conceive of an end to cheap energy.

December 29, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJudas Gutenberg

Actually in Russia they use something almost exactly like this.

December 31, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterseamusdubh

there should be some other way, so much fuel will be wasted,

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterbeginning investor

When you have to deal with snow almost every day, you will not care one bit about conserving fuel when it gives you a way to get rid of the stuff.

January 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHiyram

And for a look at the newest in real world snowplowing, take a look at plowing the snow by the home computer robotically:

January 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTom Mazanec

Of course, Ice melters already exist. They set up in the city, and melt snow brought o them by trucks. The water goes down a storm drain, thus clearing it from the streets. Good idea, no?

January 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarkB

Not just in Russia, we've got Snowzilla right here in Boston, built from a Korean war surplus jet fighter engine:

January 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commentereffish

is there any other way .....

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteronenote vs evernote

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