Snow Plow Uses Hydraulics to Compress Snow Into 1/12 as much Ice
for Urban areas
Snow that would be dumped in by the snowthrower to the left of the
moving bar would get pushed sideways to the left wall as the bar moved
to the left. By selecting the motion range of the bar, any reasonable
"compression ratio" should be possible. For example,
if the truck bed is 8 feet wide, it might make sense for the moving
bar to stop moving toward the side wall when it is 8 inches away
from it. That would generally have the effect of a 12:1 compression of
During winter storms in Northern cities and towns, snowplows do
a good job of pushing the snow off the traffic lanes. Unfortunately,
that results in large piles of snow that remain for weeks to come.
This article presents a modified snowplow that minimizes that problem.|
An inch of rain precipitation is the equivalent of around 10" to
12" of snow, because of all the air pockets in the snowflakes.
If snow is compressed, that air can be removed, and the result is
effectively a bunch of ice cubes of only 1/12 the volume!
A Streets and Sanitation truck could be mounted with a conventional
rotary snow thrower (very much like a large version of a residential
snow thrower). The outlet chute of that snowblower would feed the snow
into the bed of the truck. That effect would resemble the way a bagger
lawnmower sends the grass into a bag.
On the floor of the bed of the truck, several items would be installed.
First of all, narrow slots would be cut in the floor near the very
side edges of the floor. Next, a 3" high, very heavy bar rests
on the floor of the truck bed. It is on edge, extending from the
front edge of the bed to the rear edge of the bed. Now, picture
a fairly simple mechanism that (a) keeps this bar vertically on edge;
(b) keeps the bar continuously parallel to the centerline of the truck;
and (c) moves the bar laterally from one side of the truck bed to the
other. The motion of this bar would resemble a VERY heavy duty
windshield wiper, continually sweeping back and forth across the
floor of the truck bed.
The moving bar should probably be wider at the top than at the bottom,
a tapered cross section. This would tend to press the snow slightly
downward as it moved. This should keep much of the snow from
slipping up over the moving bar. At the end of the motion, when the
compressed ice cube is directly over the slot in the floor, that
angled side of the moving bar would press the ice cube downward
through the slot in the floor. This would clear the compressed cube
away for the next cycle in that direction.
The operation would compress snow going the other direction on the
rightward motion of the bar, so the compressing effect would be
The only remaining necessary feature would be below the floor of
the truck bed. Either a chute would be needed to eject the ice
cubes outward so the truck didn't run over the cubes, or some conveyor
or other mechanism would be used to send the cubes into a second
truck or into a container that would be emptied at intersection
That is all the mechanism that would be necessary! The moving
bar could be moved by a pair of hydraulic cylinders (at front and back
of the truck bed) or by a motor driven gear train such as a rack
An alternate arrangement might be to have 15 movable bars spaced
equally across the bed area of the truck, and have these all
rigidly attached together at their ends (at the front and back edge
of the bed of the truck). Between them would be stationary bars
firmly attached to the bed of the truck, also oriented on edge and
front-to-back. Each movable bar would then have only a 6"
wide space to move from side to side in. Instead of having a slow,
long movement of a single bar, this latticework of 15 bars could
be oscillated rather quickly, almost in a lateral vibrating situation.
As before, as each bar moved to the left (6"), it would
compress the snow on that side of the bar. A moment later, as it moved
back right, it would compress the new snow that had arrived on that side
of the bar.
This configuration would seem to have a variety of advantages over
the method described above, but it has an apparent disadvantage of
not having an obvious way of disposing with the rapid accumulation
of a multitude of rather small pieces of ice.
I had thought of making hemisphere shaped indentations on both sides
of both fixed and moving bars, so the compressed snow would form
little "marbles" of ice, but it is still not clear on
how to get them out in just a second or two. Some sort of a snow
blower mechanism could launch the multitude of ice marbles to a
chosen destination, but getting the pieces out from between the bars
seems to be a problem. Instead of creating marble shapes, I had
also considered creating cone shaped ice cubes, with their points
upward, and having a LOT of holes in the bed of the truck! The
theory is that they would fall down through the holes. Experimental
evidence is needed to know what shape of such small ice cubes would
The compressing could be done as the truck/plow is plowing the streets.
Alternately, the snow could be left in piles at the corners of
intersections as is currently done, for compressing-processing after the
storm is over. In either case, it would eliminate the expense and
inconvenience of hiring many trucks and payloaders to load and haul
the snow away.
The community would also benefit by not having the inconvenience
of piles of snow in parking spaces, or the problem of already having
piles of existing snow when the next storm arrives.
The cost of this mechanism would be VERY reasonable. Its cost
would amortize itself very quickly in reduced costs of equipment
and labor that would have been paid for hauling the snow away.
I first invented this concept in 1975. It was first put on the InterNet
in February 2000.
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C Johnson, Theoretical Physicist, Physics Degree from Univ of Chicago