Can a dummy load be switched on to overload the outside power lines, raise their temperature and melt the accumulated ice away?
Asked by: Patrick MacKinnon


I suspect that the energies involved are just too large to be practical. Consider this 'table napkin' estimation:

The heat of fusion of ice is 333.6 j/gm. Consider an ice jacket 1 cm in radius around a wire of negligible radius. This ice jacket weighs 314 gm/meter of length, and would require ~100 watt/meter to melt. That's about a 100 watt light bulb for every meter of power line.

This ignores any redeposition of fresh ice. All heat losses due to convection and a lot of other things.

In short, Mother Nature can supply more ice to a power line than Man can melt from the same power line. And the race isn't even close.
Answered by: Vince Calder, Ph.D., Physical Chemist, retired
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