A new Ingersoll Rand NX-500 Centac air compressor recently arrived at Killington Resort in time for the start of the 2022/23 snowmaking season. This sizable machine took a professional rigging crew to move and install, and it now lives in the red snowmaking barn in the K-1 parking lot. There, it will do the job of creating the high-pressure air used to make snow much more efficiently than the old unit it replaced.
In addition to simply being new, the unit features movable vanes, which allows the system to vary the amount of air that is compresses. Previously, the outfit was fixed, meaning it was sometimes running at excess capacity. It’s estimated that the new compressor will save 391,160 kWh and 439,000 pounds of CO2 annually.
“This new unit enables us to throttle up and down, whereas prior units only had on and off,” explained Mountain Ops Financial Coordinator Matt Poli. “Excess air produced was wasted and this new compressor has options. We have the ability to top off the tank with this one.”
The compressor is the first of several steps to improve the system’s efficiency. Inclusive of the figure above, the resort also purchased two new air-cooling fans which take the hot air produced by the compressor and cool it down as it travels through the system and up the hill to the snowmaking hydrants. The two units being replaced were nearly 30 years old and severely clogged due to their years of use. The cleanliness of the new system alone improves efficiency, and these after coolers also come equipped with variable frequency drives, which change the speed of the fan blades based on outside air temp and the amount of air flowing inside. It is estimated that the two fans will save 22,722 kWh and 25,500 pounds of CO2 annually.
“The air-to-air cooler that we replaced had a variable frequency drive, so that wasn’t new but the old one had a 120-horsepower motor and the two new units have 15-horsepower motors, so they are way more efficient,” said Poli.
Making the amount of snow needed each season at The Beast is an energy intensive process, so the resort committed to taking any steps it can to reduce its energy footprint. In addition to these equipment upgrades, we will continue our practice of using a heat recovery system to take the waste hot air produced by our snowmaking system to heat the snowmaking barn and vehicle maintenance buildings at the resort.Steps like will help ensure we can continue to play forever.