Wayback Machine: How to clean your sidewalk with calcium carbide

These days just about anyone anywhere but Sochi is getting pretty tired of snow. Matt Novak of Paleofuture flames out with this totally un-TreeHugger way of getting rid of it: The Snow Burner. It sprinkles calcium carbide on to the snow, which then reacts with the water to make acetylene gas, which ignites and melts the snow. What could possibly go wrong? How about this:

Great care must be exercised in sprinkling calcium carbide upon snow, so that when the gas is evolved and ignited, it will not set fire to shrubbery, trees or the house itself. Under no conditions should such a snow remover be used when a gale is blowing, and the individual drawing the mechanism over the road should always see to it that he heads into any slight breeze which may be blowing, so that his own clothes will not be ignited.

City of Toronto/Public Domain

Melting snow isn't a new idea; they do it in Toronto with the giant MetroMelt that sucks up snow and melts it, sending the water down the sewers and into the lake, along with all the road salt, cigarette butts and and dog poop. It burns $1700 worth of fossil fuels per hour to do this job.

© Arthur Radebaugh via Paleofuture

Much cooler, or hotter as the case may be, is this Sno-Melter that Esso Research developed that has flame-throwing jets in front and tandem fuel trucks with Esso's finest towed behind. Also from Matt at Paleofuture. The copy reads:

Snow piles and drifts on highways and turnpikes may soon be a thing of the past. Esso Research and Engineering Company has already devised a system for clearing urban roadways that is reported to be cheaper than under-pavement steam or electric coils. A trough is built alongside the road and kept half-filled with water which is heated by oil and air fed units at the bottom. Snow channeled into the trough melts instantly.

Truly, snow is nothing that a good dose of fossil fuels won't cure, one way or another.

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