135. Ice Concrete


Engineering in ice began during World War II, when British Engineers drew up plans for an aircraft carrier made of ice. Addition of saw dust would make the ice stronger. Although no air crafts actually landed on an ice-warship, several planes did touch down on an ice runway built on the sea, off the Alaska coast, by U.S Navy, in the winter of 1952-53.

The location of the runway was a natural ice sheet off Point Barrow, Alaska. A confined area 3000 feet long and 150 feet wide was flooded with sea water until a block of ice 16 feet thick was formed. But water pockets formed due to the defective freezing method rendered the structure weak.

Further research showed that tougher surfaces can be formed by freezing wooden cross members into the ice, similar to the steel reinforcement in cement concrete. Another form of “Ice- concrete” was formed by mixing crushed ice with fiber glass.

In 1986, The Amoco Corporation built one of the largest oil exploration platforms ever built. Named as “Mars I”, it took only seven weeks to be completed and cost only one-third of comparable drilling rigs. No shipyard was needed to build the platform. The building material (water) cost nothing and was available in plenty.

“Spray-ice” was formed by spraying water high into the air at sub-zero temperatures. The water froze into ice granules before it hit the surface. These granules compacted under their own weight to form a tough but flexible material.

An island 950 feet in diameter and 50 feet thick was formed by spraying water from four cannons. Forty workers worked for seven weeks drilling holes 8300 feet deep. The oil wells were capped. When the spring came the island of ice simply vanished!

The present methods are suitable for temperature less than16 degree F. In future bacteria called “Pseudomonas Syringe” may be added in powder form, to make ice which will withstand the higher temperature of the summer.

When ice is compressed, some of it melts and the rest of it freezes into a solid lump. This is the principle used in ice skating. When this process is repeated several times a substance called “Ice 9 “is formed. This is so hard that only by a blow torch can cut through it.

Environment friendly ice islands will be welcomed in future. Who can complain about an industrial complex that simply vanishes with out a trace, once the job is over?

Visalakshi Ramani

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2 Responses to 135. Ice Concrete

  1. When I first saw this title 135. Ice Concrete. | The wonderful world we live in on google I just whent and bookmark it. Manner cool! Some very legitimate factors! I admire you writing this text and the remainder of the website is extraordinarily good.

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