Snowmaking Generation


Snowmaking Generation

This project is a joining effort of a research group at the Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC), in collaboration with Technoalpin.


    La actividad es parte del proyecto CPP2021-009093, financiado por MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033 y por la Unión Europea-NextGenerationEU/PRTR


    2022 – 2025



    • Mechanical and Electronic Engineer: Josep M. Estiarte Bosque
    • Project Researcher: Dr. Raquel Gimeno Muñoz
    • PhD student: Júlia Canet Guillén
    • Project Researcher: Dr. Laura Rodríguez Domínguez
    • Project Manager: Eulàlia Pujades Otero

Spain, and in general all Mediterranean countries, are expected to suffer important increases in temperatures in the next decades due to global warming which, in addition, induces climate changes that can make raining and snowing more erratic, alternating periods of heavy precipitation and drought. These changes can be even more dramatic in mountain areas because, besides the obvious catastrophic repercussion in nature, the economy of many depend on snow.

Ski mountain resorts are a solid and widespread reality in the Pyrenees; they fix population and generate direct and indirect job opportunities acting as economic engines that add value to the territory. In this region, however, an increase of –at least– 1.6 ℃ has been predicted by 2050. Although this might have a rather minor impact on the total snow precipitation in one year, natural snowing will become more and more irregular affecting ski resorts, which need just the opposite. That is the reason why all resorts have taken advantage of snow production in the past decades: to avoid depending on erratic snowing.

Nevertheless, this increase of temperatures will make most of the ski resorts not sustainable with the actual technology by that time. Thus, in that scenario, the main challenge for ski resorts must face the reduction of energy costs by for instance, reducing the number of hours of snow production.

On the other hand, sudden closure of ski resorts could be fateful for mountain areas so, even if in a long-term view their economy has to be reformulated, having technology that assure sustainable snowmaking up to 2050 will give time to take the appropriate actions for a smooth transition. This kind of technology not only would increase the resilience of
mountain areas to the economic effects of global warming, but also could be respectful to the environment as it could help to preserve it.

This project is a joining effort of a research group at the Institut de Ciència de Materials de Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC) and Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC) –a public company that manage several ski resorts in the Catalan Pyrenees, in collaboration with TechnoAlpin –a leader company in snowmaking technology.

TechnoAlpin has been developing for years technologies applied to snowmaking equipment that are now reaching its mechanical limit. Despite of the improvement during the last decades, the current technology will still need an important amount of energy to work at the predicted temperatures in the Pyrenees. Besides, it will not be able to transform into snow all the water used in the snowmakers, which would lead to an important loss of this valuable resource.

ICMAB research group and TechnoAlpin have recently developed a technology based on the mineralization of the water used to make snow similarly to the process of natural snow formation, reproducing it in a small scale. According to laboratory results, the use of this technology could improve snowmaking efficiency, with less water and less energy needed for the same volume of produced snow. The minerals that will be tested in the project belong to the feldspar family. These minerals are environmentally harmless, they exist in abundance in Earth and they are known to be one of the main particles in atmosphere that interact with clouds inducing precipitation (click here to know more about the role of minerals and specially feldspar in the clouds).

FGC, coordinating the project and looking for a public service, offers their expertise in years of snowmaking as well as their ski-slope facilities to create field-test areas in order to check in-situ the viability of this technology.

The aim of this three-party collaboration is to study for three years the use of this new technology in all possible real situations in order to determine its viability and the benefits in terms of energy, water saving and snowmaking capabilities for ski resorts. The project is designed to obtain the maximum universal results, with tests in different locations so, as a final outcome, it would result in a technology that could be used in any ski resort either in Spain or abroad. All tests will be performed in areas closed to the public, thus not in regular ski slopes.

More snow volume, less energy, less water, less dependency on temperatures, more sustainable, more natural.

Dr. Albert Verdaguer

ICMAB-CSIC Tenured Scientist

Maite Garcia Valles

Profesora Titular de Universitat Barcelona

Núria Roca Pascual

Professora agregada de la Universitat de Barcelona