Snow and ice on roads is an expensive and dangerous problem, not only for cities, but for motorists and businesses. The cities have to pay for a fleet of trucks to dump salt and other chemicals on roads, as well as plow. Motorists get into an increased amount of traffic accidents in poor driving conditions and also have to deal with the after effects of all of that salt destroying the undercarriage of their cars. Businesses suffer legal claims from not being able to keep their sidewalks clear or increased costs from plowing and shoveling.
Because of all those costs, it’s no wonder why scientists have been working on a solution to reduce ice and snow build up on rows. Just recently, we learned about Turkish scientists who developed an additive for asphalt roads that would slowly release to the surface and melt ice. Now, it appears another group of researches want to electrify concrete in order to melt snow.
Professor Chris Tuan, from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL), has been researching and developing his solution for years and is now close to a breakthrough. Tuan’s electrified concrete is currently being tested by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for use on tarmacs, which, they say, could potentially greatly reduce weather related delays for airlines.
The formula for conductive concrete is pretty simple, it’s 80% standard concrete mixture and 20% metal fiber and carbon particles. Add a little electricity and you’ve got the makings for an ice and snow free surface. The big hurdle that Tuan and his creation will face is cost. Though over time it could save cities tons of money, the initial cost to tear up roadways and re-pour would be extremely cost prohibitive. Tuan’s concrete has actually been used on the 150-foot long Roca Spur Bridge for the past 14 years, since it’s completion in 2002. In total, the bridge has 52 conductive concrete slabs, which Tuan told Phys.org cost $250 in electricity over a three day storm. That $250 is several times less than what it would cost trucks to dump chemicals on the bridge.
It would certainly be interesting to see what else could be accomplished with electrified roads…could they possibly charge electric cars? We could let our imaginations wander for hours, but for right now, Tuan wants to focus on specific areas, like intersections, exit ramps, driveways, and sidewalks.
The story below from WOWT 6 News, includes an interview with Tuan.