The Loh Down On Science

Cold As Ice

Looking to drop a cool million in Mongolia?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Weather in Mongolia? Pretty extreme: frigid winters and blazing summers--especially in the capital, Ulaan Bataar. It's an urban heat island. Meaning the city's structures trap heat, making it warmer than the countryside. Result? Summer electricity demand soars.

The engineering company ECOS-EMI wants to tap winter's cold in summer--with gigantic slabs of ice--or naleds. Naleds form naturally when rivers freeze over but liquid water seeps out, freezing onto the original ice. With repeated seepage and freezing, naleds can grow to twenty feet thick. Such ginormous ice cubes slowly melting in summer could really cool the city off--and provide drinking and irrigation water.

ECOS plans to drill boreholes through the Tuul River's winter ice to create an artificial naled. Cost? One billion tugrik--slightly under one million dollars.

Even though it's summer, it won't be no Mongolian barbecue! Unless they want to barbecue. Which they can supplement with icy sodas.



The Loh Down on Science, online, at lohdown.org. Produced by 89.3 KPCC and the California Institute of Technology, and made possible by TIAA-CREF.

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