Successful hot-water drilling in the Antarctic is predicated on utilization of the abundant water supply available in the form of the Antarctic ice sheet. For WISSARD (Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling) field operations, a snowmelting system was developed that could adequately provide water for a 1000 kW hot-water drill. The system employs ∼100 kW of waste heat from a 225 kW generator to melt snow for initial water (known as seed water) to prime the drill’s high-pressure pumps and water heaters; once the water heaters can be engaged in snowmelting, enough water can be supplied directly to the WISSARD drill to successfully melt a 40 cm diameter hole through 800 m of ice.
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