A glacier in the desert might seem to be something of an anomaly, if not an absurdity, at a time when global warming is seen to be one of the most pressing global environmental issues.
Dutch artist Ap Verheggen is determined to prove that this is an impossibility that can be overcome. Verheggen wants to build an artificial “leaf” for the desert that would be capable of generating a layer of ice on its underside.
It is envisioned that SunGlacier will work by covering a 200 square metre surface with photovoltaic solar cells. These cells will provide the power to condensers on the underside of the giant leaf-like structure. The condensers soak up humidity from the desert air and turn it into ice. Contrary to popular belief, desert air does have a lot of moisture, which would make this concept potentially feasible.
For the first prototype Verheggen created a 10cm-thick slab of ice on a piece of aluminium that was placed inside a shipping container in which desert conditions were simulated.
While applications for the SunGlacier may not seem obvious or solution-based, Verheggen hopes that this project with start a conversation about smart solutions for climate change issues.
Images: Artist impression - Ap Verheggen.