Intermediate depth ice core drilling support systems: power generators and shelters

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Arctic and high altitude ice coring operations require lightweight and efficient equipment. Power sources, fuel and shelters in some cases compose up to 50% of the cargo delivered to a drilling site. Solar panels, two-stroke gasoline and air-cooled portable diesel generators have been used in Arctic and high altitude glaciers to power the drilling setup. On the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (5895m above sea level) a portable air cooled diesel generator provided 1kW of electricity for electro-mechanical drilling. The average fuel consumption was 0.66liters of fuel per hour. More than 150m of ice cores in three locations were drilled with this power source. For 150m shallow ice coring a diesel generator and fuel was found to be 40% of the weight than 1.5kW array of solar panels. Assembly and disassembly of diesel generator takes one tenth of the time necessary to assemble/disassemble the array of solar panels. However, solar power is environmentally friendly. The purpose of the shelter is to protect personnel and equipment from the wind and blowing snow. At high altitude drilling sites the shelter provides a shadow to keep the drill and an ice core at temperatures below freezing. A set of lightweight shelters allowed flexible and weather independent ice coring operations in the Arctic and high altitude glaciers. Custom-built and commercially available lightweight geodesic domes have a 12man/h setup time and provide comfortable working conditions during stormy days in Greenland and on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. An additional reflective cover maintains the air temperature inside of the dome below the freezing point at 1200-1300W/m^2 solar radiation. A portable, fast setup and commercially available shelter for the power generator was tested and demonstrated durableness during stormy days in Greenland. This paper describes field-tested, lightweight, reliable and fuel-efficient power generators and lightweight shelters.


  • Memoirs of National Institute of Polar Research. Special issue

    Memoirs of National Institute of Polar Research. Special issue 56, 313-320, 2002-03

    National Institute of Polar Research


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