Join us for: An exploration of composite ice materials for low impact construction

Friday 13 July 2018, 9 am – 4 pm

Donadeo Engineering Building at UofA Main Campus Room 8-207

Ice structures have a long tradition in northern climates. Made from snow blocks and strengthened by layers of ice, the igloo is the oldest known ice structure. Fibre reinforced ice was developed in WWII to build an unsinkable aircraft carrier, project Habakkuk. The remains of the 1,000 ton scale model can still be found at the bottom of Patricia Lake in Jasper National Park. In 1959, a local Edmonton company had an artificial ice bridge constructed over the North Saskatchewan river. It was strong enough to support 25-tonne trucks loaded with gravel. The span was created by pumping refrigerant through nearly eight kilometres of special high-strength plastic piping, that was laid on top of the existing natural ice.

Key note speaker Arno Pronk, Associate Professor at the Technical University of Eindhoven, the Netherlands has been researching structural for over 15 years. It started with creating an igloo at an ambient temperature of +18C and more recently student teams from collaborating Universities build the world’s largest ice shell dome with a diameter of 30 meters at a mining site in Juuka, Finland using a mixture of water and saw dust, and the world’s largest ice shell tower “Flamenco” standing 31 meters tall at the Harbin Ice Festival, China using a mixture of water and cellulose. The researchers’ imagination carries them to building an olympic house at the Winter Olympics in Beijing in 2022 and even a 3D printed habitable space on Mars.

The big idea behind composite ice materials is building structures in remote cold areas using only local available materials. Through conversations between representatives of the UofA, ABCTech and the TU/e we determined that also Canada could benefit from potential (commercial) applications of structural ice. This free workshop on Friday July 13th at the UofA will bring together experts from industry, government, community, education and research to further explore the opportunities, but also to identify what additional research will be required to address the challenges (e.g. technical, regulatory, environmental). To prepare for this discussion, Arno will share the insights of the different construction projects and the outcomes of his research; like extrudable ice. Looking forward to see you there.