Unique lab for snow in Luleå

Published: 15 December 2016

Researchers at Luleå University of Technology are building a unique laboratory for characterizing snow and for studying the properties of snow. When a snowflake hits the ground, it interacts with other snowflakes and they form a snowcover. Depending on the temperature and humidity snow can have diffent properties. It is these characteristics that the researchers at Luleå University of Technology are interested in and now will examine in their smallest detail.

– We want to develop methods that can help us understand how the snow changes and how it is affected in different environments. It is important for the snow making industry so that the snow get just the quality desired. For tire and automotive testing these operations are extremely important, because the tire and automotive industry wants to be able to test tires under exactly the same snow conditions, so that they get tire tests repeatable. Here, our research on snow will contribute with important knowledge, says Johan Casselgren, researchers in Experimental Mechanics at Luleå university of Technology.

The researchers linked to the lab will use four different methods in order to characterize snow structure. They will use three optical methods (Road-eye sensor, spectrometer, holography) and a technique based on X-ray, called  microtomography. All together these methods can help to get more properties of snow and enahance the ability to characterize the snow, quickly on the spot, for example, in a ski slope, but also at an extreme level of detail in the lab. They will also develop a technology  to use outdoors  enabling measurement of the density of frost and ice on wind turbines, from the ground.

Completely new method for the characterization of snow

Photo: Mostphotos


One of the methods that the researchers at Luleå University of Technology will develop is a completely new method to characterize snow. It involves holography for imaging the internal structure of snow in order to access the grain size. By shining through snow grains with a laser light, the researchers will develop a three-dimensional image of the entire snow structure. With laser light the researchers will investigate snow properties in terms of density, humidity and grain size, and how these properties will change over time due to changes in pressure and temperature. The method is completely new when it comes to characterizing snow. The aim is for exemple to calculate how a test track for winter driving change and behave, during wear.

– For various activities related to snow and ice, it is important to have knowledge about snow conditions. Luleå University of Technology will become the leader in Sweden when it comes to characterizing snow and ice and our lab has no equivalent anywhere in Sweden, says Johan Casselgren.

Many researchers associated with the project

In the team following researchers  take part from Luleå University of Technology : Johan Casselgren, Mikael Sjödahl, Fredrik Forsberg, Erik Olsson, Eynas Amar, Lavan Eppanapelli and Nina Lintzen. Johan Wåhlin at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is also researcher in the project.

The research is funded by the Energy Agency, the Norwegian and Swedish Transport Administration  and the areas of excellence in research and innovation,  Smart machines and materials and Sustainable transportation at Luleå University of Technology. Partners include SPGA (Swedish Proving Ground Association), Arctic Falls, NTNU Klimator and Darkathlon.

Johan Casselgren

Johan Casselgren, Associate Professor

Phone: +46 (0)920 491409
Organisation: Experimental Mechanics, Fluid and Experimental Mechanics, Department of Engineering Sciences and Mathematics

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