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Keeping the elves warm

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north pole factory

Keeping the Elves Warm

Welcome to the last in our series looking at “The Science of Santa”. Today, we’re looking at the Santa workshop, and how to keep those elves warm while they are at work.

There are many many elves working with Santa to get Xmas delivered to us every year. It seems fair to think, given that Santa himself wears a reasonably warm suit, that the elves would also like to be in a comfortable temperature (we’re going with around 20C).

The North Pole gets pretty cold at times and averages -40C in winter. In order to warm up a space big enough for a single elf from -40C to 20C Santa would need around 3000kJ of energy (that is about 50kg of air being warmed up). 

We’re pretty sure from some other calculations we’ve done (such as the number of toys that the workshop needs to manufacture) that the number of elves living with Santa is significant. Let’s conservatively say that there are 1 million elves at the North Pole. That translates to needing 3 billion kilojoules of energy to warm up Santa’s workshop (note that we’re assuming a very well insulated workshop, and that we’re trying to heat it from cold in the middle of winter – but we’re pretty sure that the workshop never shuts down).

Tarong power station in QLD has a capacity of 1,400MWatts, and could therefore heat up Santa’s workshop in about 40 minutes (assuming a large number of very efficient heaters). And that’s just for heating, not running any machinery, lighting or anything else that the elves might need to make toys.

Hopefully Santa is using sustainable energy sources to keep the elves warm during the long cold North Pole winter. We’ll leave it questions such as that for another year – but one thing is for sure, Santa and his elves are working at the cutting edge of science, and they are very good at keeping their secrets, so they probably don’t need our help.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our series speculating about the Science of Santa.

Published December 2, 2020

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