Energy Conversion and Management, Vol.186, 473-486, 2019
Long-term thermal analysis of an airfield-runway snow-melting system utilizing heat-pipe technology
Snow removal is a critical security issue in airports, where heat-pipe technology can be an environmentally friendly and efficient alternative to traditional approaches for snow removal. This study investigated the long-term thermal regime of airfield-runways equipped with a heat-pipe system, using data collected over several recent years from two full-scale snow-melting systems, one located in Beijing, and the other in Harbin, China. The findings showed that the heat-pipe system automatically increases the airfield-runway surface temperatures by up to 17 degrees C utilizing geothermal energy in winter for preventing icing. Surface temperature levels up to 0 degrees C were observed to increase by over 25% when a shallow pipe embedded depth and a longer pipe evaporation section were selected. However, the surface temperature was less affected by the diameter of the heat-pipe. Field experiments indicated that, the heat-pipe technology threshold value for the airfield-runway snow-melting performance was an ambient air temperature exceeding - 10 degrees C. Using the heat-pipe technology, the snow-melting rate on an airfield-runway was about 3-8 mm/h within the working range, and there was therefore a decrease in the snow-cover durations. Particularly, the heat-pipe airfield-runway was always free of snow when the average ambient air temperature exceeded -4 degrees C. The statistical results illustrated that the heat-pipe airfield-runway snow-melting system is applicable in more than 78% of the cities in China, indicating that this technology is feasible and practical in China and can be applied in other countries.