Fresh water


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  • #1189
    Anonymous
    Member

    The last I read on this topic, you could only take two minute showers twice a week. With the new station, has potable water become more plentiful? Or are you still living under those restrictions?

    Thanks!

    Angie

    #9787
    Anonymous
    Member

    Hi Angie… I’m a newbie and have never been on the ice, but I have been reading a whole lot lately.

    My understanding of the 2min shower line was that 1) it applies to south pole station only, and 2) it’s only during the summer season when the population goes up.

    Someone please correct me if I’m grossly mistaken.

    #9788
    Sciencetech
    Keymaster

    You’re right. It’s a South Pole Station restriction only. Two minute showers, twice a week.

    The other stations have more water and usually don’t have usage restrictions.

    g

    #9789
    Anonymous
    Member

    OK, thanks. I’m sorry about it, Polies! 😀 I think that’s one restriction that would really make me nuts.

    Angie

    #9790
    Been There
    Member

    Angie,

    If limited showers would drive you nuts I hope you are not considering working in the program. Due to the nature of the location there are many restrictions. Some folks don’t understand the basic reason for the restrictions is to ensure the workforce is safe, both due work hours and equally important, due off time.

    Been There

    #9791
    Anonymous
    Member

    Chiming in again. While I’ve got no experience on the ice, I am an engineer with some experience in water desalination, so I can tell you that’s not a simple or cheap way to make potable water.

    The process is really cost prohibitive in all but the driest of areas on this planet. If you think oil is a valuable commodity – you should see the security around some of the desal facilities in the middle east!

    Anyway – the problem with these membrane based processes is that when you need twice as much water… you generally need twice as much membrane (therefore twice as big of a facility!).

    I’m not sure what the exact design of facilities at either McMurdo or the pole are, but I would imagine that there’s even more energy expenditure in getting water (from ice) and/or maintaining it at the proper temperature for the desalination process.

    I guess my viewpoint is: let us not forget that we are talking about living on the ends of the earth! The fact that they’ve built a viable infrastructure there at all amazes me.

    #9795
    Anonymous
    Member

    @Been There wrote:

    Angie,

    If limited showers would drive you nuts I hope you are not considering working in the program. Due to the nature of the location there are many restrictions. Some folks don’t understand the basic reason for the restrictions is to ensure the workforce is safe, both due work hours and equally important, due off time.

    Been There

    Hi, Been and everybody, I am a retired desert ecologist, and in my time I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about how difficult it can be to acquire potable water. Pole, after all, is located in a desert. 😀

    I’m about 40 years past being eligible to work in “the program,” and age has turned me into a devout comfort freak. But I am very interested in what you are doing, and sympathetic towards you with your necessary privations.

    Angie

    #9793
    Anonymous
    Member

    Let me throw in my 2 cents worth. I’m an American who wintered over at Scott Base in ’59. We had two snow melters on the base, one in each of two of the buildings. The melters were not very sophisticated, just tanks through which exhaust pipes from the diesel engines ran. There were always diesel engines running to provide electrical power for the base. There were trap doors in the outside walls adjacent to the melters. Every day we would go outside, cut up blocks of snow and throw them through the trap doors into the melters and the heat from the exhaust pipes would melt the snow. We had no shortage of water.

    #9794
    Anonymous
    Member

    Ok, here are ze facts …

    McMurdo: DeSal plant produces a lot of water. Conservation is encouraged. But you can take a shower when you need to. Lots of hot water most of the time.

    Pole: The problem isn’t water, after all we’re on a glacier several kilometers thick. We have all the water the world will ever need. The problem is it’s frozen. Hard frozen. So it takes energy to convert the ice to usable liquid water, plus energy to heat it to comfortable drinking and bathing temperatures. While we have an endless supply of water, we have zero energy available, especially in winter. All energy is then supplied by generators running 24/7 on aviation fuel. If purchased in the USA at an airport, this fuel would be reasonably priced but still expensive. By the time it is transported to Antarctica via vessel, then to South Pole by airplane, it costs as much as a nice Mercedes per tank. We have a lot of tanks. Even then we don’t have unlimited capacity and we have a long time between refueling trips (February to November). So, conservation is not only encouraged, it is mandatory. In the summer it is 100-percent vital that people stick with the 2-minute/2 per week rule. In the winter, there’s a bit more leniency when somebody gets dirty on the job or if there’s a good reason to take an extra one. But people who abuse it are quickly scorned. Taking extra showers at pole can theoretically put other people at risk. Fuel and water usage are monitored daily so most likely if there was widespread abuse it would be discovered and corrected quickly, but nobody wants to be “that guy.”

    Then there’s this. You don’t need to take a shower every day unless your job demands it or you don’t take care of yourself. Daily showers are a modern luxury. In McMurdo, you’ll likely regress to one every other day. At Pole, by the end of winter, we are used to one a week … four minutes long of course 🙂

    Hope this helps.

    #9792
    skua77
    Keymaster

    Ah yes, those four minute showers once a week during my second Pole winter in 2005…every Sunday morning.

    During my first winter at Pole (1977) we had a snow melter. We could make enough water for the 21 of us but we really didn’t use that much water. After all, there were just 21 of us 🙂

    Palmer and McMurdo back then relied on flash desalinization units–basically boiling water and distllling it. The heat for the McM plant originally was waste heat from the nuclear plant, the heat for the Palmer units came from waste heat from the generators.

    Before global warming melted the glacier, in the 80s during the summer there used to be a melt pond at Palmer that provided lots and lots of water during the summer months.

    Nowadays both McM and Palmer use reverse osmosis units. And Pole has a well, as it were. Here are more details than you ever wanted to know…http://www.southpolestation.com/trivia/rodwell/rodwell.html

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