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British Antarctic search for life in Lake Ellsworth halted with Boiler trouble

The British Antarctic attempt to search for life in an ancient lake 2 miles under the ice has ground to a halt after their boiler broke down.

The British attempt to find life in an ancient lake lying beneath 3km of Antarctic ice has hit problems. The team have been using a high pressure hot water drill to bore a hole through solid ice into Lake Ellsworth. Unfortunately the boiler designed to heat 230 litres of water per minute to 90C has broken down.

Problems started last Thursday when a key circuit failed. A back-up burner was fitted and ran until Saturday when it too failed. Replacement parts have been ordered but with the manufacturer based 10,000 miles away in the UK, drilling is unlikely to resume before December 21st.

The team are currently running the boiler on a less powerful back-up element which, though not powerful enough to resume drilling, is keeping the pipes from freezing. Project Manager Chris Hill told BBC News by email:

"We are also vulnerable if this element fails, we will have to fully drain down the system … and start over from scratch – this would be a big deal.”

Typical isn't it, run up to Christmas and your boiler fails just when you need it most and it's hardest to budget for. If you're in this position you might be interested in a new concept in boiler maintenance from English company Everlasting Boilers.

Everlasting Boilers will fit an A Rated Combi Boiler to your home free of charge. Annual servicing and all breakdown call outs (24/7) are all included in a fixed monthly fee. If they can't fix the boiler they will replace it. Even better, it's free for the first three months, then half price for the next 12 weeks. Ongoing charges are £8.79 per week. After 10 years you are eligible to upgrade to the latest new model.

Sadly for the British Antarctic Survey, Everlasting Boilers currently only offer their services to home owners in England.