Ice and snow on roads cause increased traffic accidents and businesses and school to close. The most popular defenses against ice build-up is to salt or sand roads, sidewalks and driveways, but it’s expensive for cities to send out trucks to drop it. Not only that, but most of it gets picked up by cars or wash away when the snow and ice melts, causing it to need to be re-applied.
Researchers from Koc University in Turkey have been conducting experiments on additives for asphalt roads that would slowly release de-icing salt. The study, released by Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, concludes that by adding a mixture of salt potassium formate and the polymer strene-butadiene-styrene to bitumen (one of the major components of asphalt), it greatly reduces ice formation. In their lab studies, the asphalt released the de-icing salt for up to two months, but the scientists believe that, in real world conditions, the salt could be released for years, due to road traffic slowly wearing away layers of asphalt and exposing more salt. It was also determined that the additives did not comprise the strength of the bitumen.
While positive test results are promising, the real world application estimate of releasing salt for several years will certainly need to be proven before buy-in would happen.