Scientists Create 'De-icing’ Concrete That Can Melt Snow From Roads

Posted: Jan 26 2016, 12:05am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News


Scientists Create 'De-icing’ Concrete that can Melt Snow from Roads
A slab of conductive concrete demonstrates its de-icing capability. Credit: Chris Tuan

The new form of concrete will help making roads safer during winter storms

Clearing snow from roads, bridges and streets during winter storms is an uphill task. People try different methods to de-ice roads such as spraying chemicals or doing manual scraping but all those methods are either too expensive or involve a lot of effort. Now researchers have found a better way to remove huge chunks of snow covering the roads.

A researcher from University of Nebraska-Lincoln has created a new kind of concrete slab that melts away ice and snow on its own. The concrete slab is made up of 20 percent blend of steel shavings and carbon particles that are incorporated into regular concrete. The mixture allows carrying electrical current and generates heat to melt away ice. 

The technology will potentially help making roads safer in the future blizzards while not causing any harm to humans if touched. 

“De-icing concrete is intended for icy bridges, street intersections, interstate exist ramps and where accidents are prone to take place," said Chris Tuan, the creator and professor of civil engineering at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“Bridges always freeze up first, because they are exposed to the elements on top and bottom. It’s not cost effective to build entire roadways using conductive concrete, but you can use it at certain locations where you always get ice or have potholes.”

The new concrete slab is currently being trailed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The testing phase will run through March this year. If FAA is satisfied with the results they will consider using this technology in major airports in U.S.

In 2002, Tuan and Nebraska Department of Roads have a made a 150-foot bridge Roca Spur Bridge, about 15 miles south of Lincoln and it’s the worlds first ever bridge to incorporate conductive concrete. It has been successfully de-icing the surface for a decade or so.

The concrete is connected to a power source to generate ice and melting ice. The power required to de-ice the bridge during a three-day storm typically costs about $250 – several times less than a truck loaded with chemicals and also makes road safer and traveling easier. 

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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