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The Iceman buildeth – using water from his heating system


March 3, 2011

Roger Hanson's gigantic backyard ice sculpture for this year, made using water from his home's geothermal heating system

Roger Hanson's gigantic backyard ice sculpture for this year, made using water from his home's geothermal heating system

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Most of us living in the upper reaches of North America are getting pretty tired of winter by now, but for one Minnesota resident, the arrival of spring will mean the destruction of his incredible work of art. Software engineer Roger Hanson uses water from his home's geothermal heating system, along with a half-inch rebar framing system and a computer-controlled robotic sprayer, to create gigantic free-form ice sculptures in his backyard. His current masterpiece is 85 feet (26 meters) wide and 64 feet (19.5 meters) tall – although winter's not over yet.

Hanson's geothermal system takes water from the ground at a temperature of approximately 47F (8C) and extracts heat from it for heating his house, cooling the water by about 10 degrees in the process. That cooler, "used" water is then pumped out into an adjacent river ... or at least, it used to be. Since the winter of 2007, Hanson has instead been spraying it over an arrangement of multiple tiered frames and poles on his property, to create his sculptures.

The sprayer is moved by two joined antenna rotators, which control both its elevation and azimuth movements. The rotators are in turn controlled by a software program that Hanson created himself. That program also regularly accesses a weather station on top of the house, adjusting the sprayer's movements based on factors such as wind speed and direction.

To keep the water lines from freezing, a bypass system keeps water trickling through at one-twentieth the flow when the home's heating system isn't running.

All in all, it's a pretty clever way of making do with cold Midwestern winters.

All photos courtesy Roger Hanson

Via Inhabitat

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

For every 100 losers there comes cool people like this gentleman to brighten up people\'s lives with a little good cheer with this great creation. It all helps make up for the politicians and other losers destroying our lives these days....


Well, as long as he is using renewable energy to power it, it\'s all good.


Seems like a great storage system for spring water use. If it were to melt into a cistern for reuse as a gray water.

@ forfreedom (what a name, jingo much?) I guess some people are never satisfied with the result. If it were renewable but didn\'t remove carbon gases would your post reflect the ever moving deficiency. It is Art, nothing more.



This is so cool. I live somewhat near that area and he\'s just your normal guy aside from the 80\' wall of ice. Guess the wifey just wouldn\'t stop nagging :P (kidding). One thing: he made it directly next to his house. I\'m pretty sure he\'ll have a nice, sloppy mess to deal with until about July. You crazy Mud Ducks!... says this Cheese Head ;)


Depending on where you chose to put it, it would act as a great windbreak and save even more on heating the home in winter.


Build that ice in a block and then use it in the summer to cool your home. Once it is melted, water your garden. Make nature work for you.

Leif Knutsen
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