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Extreme Ice Testing

National Research Council Wind Tunnel, Ottawa, Ontario - Jan. 27, 2007

The last time I visited the wind tunnel at the National Research Council in Ottawa, they cranked it up and sprayed me with water at 150 kilometers per hour. We decided we could kick this concept up a notch by returning in the dead of winter and doing it again. This time, the air temperature was around -18C and I wanted to see if I could get large amounts of ice to accumulate on me...I got my answer!!!

Frozen_Tunnel_07

The ice man cometh...This is what happens to the human body when you combine an ice storm with hurricane force winds.
I became completely ice encrusted in only a matter of minutes. The high winds of the wind tunnel atomized the water droplets and the cold temperatures pulled in from outside froze them to me instantly. I felt like a meat popsicle. There were a few times when we had to stop the experiment: once when one of the cameras had to have the ice chipped off it and another when the water nozzle iced up. Since they told me that nobody has ever done this before, we didn't know what to expect so I wore as many layers of warm clothes as I could manage but the real difficulty ended up be overheating. Everyone around me was cold but I was having trouble breathing. Especially when the ice really started to build up.
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The huge fan blades of the wind tunnel.

Inside the main control room.

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Getting suited up and prepared.

Safety crew checking my breathing.
After about 15 minutes of being harnessed in the tunnel, the ice buildup had gotten so bad that I wasn't sure if my air supply was going to be completely cut off and I knew that it was going to take at least a few minutes for them to chip me out so as soon as I started feeling my air getting choked off, I gave the signal to abort the experiment. Waiting for them to get me out of there was some of the longest minutes of my life. I had to shout as loud as I could for the crew to hear me and it was difficult to relay the message that I needed fresh air NOW.

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OK, That's it. Time to chip me out.

It's good to be able to breathe again.

Luckily, I had a great safety crew there with me (John, a fireman and Marc, a paramedic. Thanks guys) They rushed in and used an ice axe and hammer to chip the ice off my helmet and pull away my clothing to a point where I could breath again. Definitely a unique experience.