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food / travel

Grape Pulp And Snow Plows: Swiss Firm Clears Winter Roads With Winemaking Waste

Alcohol, apples and seashells… Swiss authorities have tried almost everything to clear snow off roads and sidewalks. This time, a Geneva-based startup claims it can cut down the use of salt by 70% by replacing it with 'Snowfree', a produ



Why does snow melt so much faster in vineyards than elsewhere? This remark got a Swiss perfumer thinking and ultimately led to the creation of Snowfree: small pellets made of grape "waste" – seeds and pulp remaining after the fruit has been pressed into wine — each containing a small quantity of salt.

The startup company that sells Snowfree claims that the product is considerably more environmentally friendly than pure salt, which tends to damage roads and buildings over the long haul. The product also offers a good way to recycle agricultural waste, and could lead Swiss authorities to use 70% less salt for snow removal.

The product, already tested in France, is 15 to 20% more expensive than regular salt, but the Swiss company claims that it lasts significantly longer.

Read the full story in French by Marie-Laure Chapatte

Photo – graybee

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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