Businesses and local governments located in areas where it snows a lot must make sure that the white stuff is kept clear from their streets, sidewalks and parking lots.
The problem, in some cases, is what to do with all the snow once it’s been cleared.
The current solution is to either push the snow into gigantic piles and allow them to melt naturally or take them to special disposal sites where they might use gas-powered heaters to melt the snow.
But those methods can take a lot of time, use valuable space or consume a lot of energy.
Now, the authors of a study published in the American Chemical Society’s journal Langmuir say they may have a better and more environmentally friendly solution to the problem of quickly getting rid of excess snow.
The researchers created three thermal blankets made out of an aluminum alloy.
One was unpainted, another painted with black enamel paint and the third painted with a black silicon based paint.
Both sides of the blanket were painted black.
The researchers then draped each blanket over piles of man-made snow along with an uncovered snow pile which was all kept in a refrigerated container.
A high-intensity sun-lamp used to imitate sunlight was then placed over the snow piles.
They found that the snow under the unpainted aluminum blanket melted at the same rate as the uncovered pile.
But the piles of snow under both thermal blankets coated with black paint melted three times faster than the uncovered pile and the one topped with the unpainted blanket.