Design and Field Testing of a Remote Ground-Based Liquid Propane Dispenser

David W Reynolds

Abstract


The design and field test results of a remotely operated ground-based liquid propane dispenser used for augmenting snowpack in the Sierra Nevada are described. Operation of the dispenser is controlled by a microprocessor interfaced to a VHF radio. Software resident on a Sacramento-based personal computer (PC) provides the necessary commands or dispenser operation via a microwave mountain top repeater. Each microprocessor is programmed with a separate I.D. allowing independent operation. With eight analog and eight control channels available on the microprocessor, options are available both for dispenser control and monitoring dispenser performance. Verification of liquid propane release consists of monitoring air temperature within the evaporating liquid spray, and flow rate through the valve assembly. Based on a two-year test program, a final design has now been completed. Ten dispensers have been fabricated and installed in the field for operation this winter. If environmental procedures can be completed, this winter will be the first year of a five-year prototype test program to evaluate propane as an effective seeding agent for augmenting winter snowpack.

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