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Institute of Snow Research

Services Introduction About ISR    
Keweenaw Snow Paver Anti-Icing and Deicing Research Elastomeric Coatings T.R.A.C.S. Vehicle Mobility Testing

About the Institute of Snow Research

Areas of Expertise
Keweenaw Snow Paver

The Keweenaw Snow Paver

  • Revolutionary advancement in snow processing
  • Allows operators to control snow characteristics after processing

Deicing and Anti-Icing Chemical Performance Analysis

  • Advanced measurement instrumentation
  • Able to perform consistent and repeatable tests
  • Year round testing capabilities
  • Laboratory and field test capabilities

Elastomeric Coatings

  • Anti-Icing potential
  • Bridges
  • Snowmobile trail crossings

Snowmobile Bump Formation / Snowmobile Suspension Studies

  • TRACS - the Testing, Research, and Analysis Center for Snowmobiles
  • Utilization of geodimeter system
  • Determinance of trail bump formation with respect to a number of variables

Vehicle Mobility Testing

  • On-board data acquisition
  • Expert snow characterization and modeling
Equipment and Facilities

The Institute of Snow Research is a part of the Keweenaw Research Center and Michigan Tech University. This union equips ISR with just about any tool that may be needed to get a project done.

Some of the specialized equipment and facilities available to ISR are:

  • Fully equipped environment cold chamber capable of achieving temperatures down to -40 degrees Celcius and able to maintain within +/- 1 degree. Fully programmable to ramp diurnal cycles.
  • A large array of data acquistion equipment
  • Laboratory frost simulation system
  • Snow/Ice computerized shear strength measurement system
  • Necessary equipment to perform all "SHRP" certified deicing chemical performance tests
  • Several sizes and types of solid and liquid chemical spreaders
  • Traffic simulation rollers
  • Water trucks to simulate freezing rain
  • Saab pavement surface friction measurement vehicle
  • 500 acre winter test facility, which includes
    3 packed snow areas ranging from 150' x 190' to 300' x 1200'
    2 circle tracks
    200' x 1200' ice rink
    A variety of handling loops
    Vehicles of all shapes and sizes both for support and testing
    Numerous locations for testing in undisturbed, deep, fresh snow
  • Snow grooming and moving equipment
  • Access to hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails located in Michigan's scenic Upper Peninsula
  • Several snowmobiles
  • Snow characterization equipment
  • "Geodimeter" laser controlled surveying equipment
Recent Projects
  • Publication of the "Snowmobile Trail Grooming Handbook" for Michigan
  • Antarctic Traverse
  • Snowmobile bump formation study in Yellowstone National Park
  • Development of elastomeric concrete coatings for bridge deck sealing, carbide snowmobile stud wear, and anti-icing
  • Involvement in the FHWA funded "Maintenance Decision Support System" project
  • Keweenaw Snow Paver trail grooming system
  • Numerous laboratory and field performance evaluations of deicing and anti-icing chemicals both liquid and solid
Why ISR and the Keweenaw Research Center?

The real reason for the existence of ISR is the location of the University on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The center is located on the peninsula in the middle of Lake Superior. This location gives the area an average of almost 25 feet of lake effect snow annually. Snowfalls occur almost daily during the month of December. The temperature during the winter is relatively warm due to the lake effect. This combination of snow and temperatures generally above 0 degrees Fahrenheit make the area ideal for winter maintenance and mobility research.

Russ Alger is the Chief Scientist for the ISR. He has been involved in winter related research for over 25 years. His expertise in the field is known worldwide. He has been involved in numerous research projects involving all aspects of snow and winter related problems. He is the author of the Snowmobile Trail Grooming Handbook for the State of Michigan, has conducted an array of tests involving the control of snow, ice, and frost on pavements using chemicals and varied application scenarios, is a co-designer of a revolutionary new method to groom snowmobile trails and develop snow runways, and has worked in many aspects of mobility in both deep and shallow snow.

Mr. Alger was one of the lead snow scientists in a 1,500 mile traverse through parts of Antarctica to help develop an overland route to the South Pole for NSF. He is a member of several snowmobile related committees and groups, a member of the ASTM F-9 Winter Tire Committee, a member of the SAE Committee G-15 - Anti-icing and Equipment, has authored a number of papers on related topics, and given presentations at several conferences.

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