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Conductive Concrete Could Melt Road Ice

(Mirror Daily, United States) – One day, conductive concrete could melt road ice and eliminate the need for snow plows or salt in order to enable safe driving. Snowstorms or simple winter weather in most regions create several accidents and delays within cities. This is especially the case in airports, where several problems occur due to snowfall.

That is why the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is funding Chris Tuan’s project, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Nebraska. Tuan and his team managed to create a conductive concrete that can send electrical signals and melt the ice or snow on top of it. It could be a potentially money-saving solution for numerous cities or one that could prevent delays or accidents.

According to the leader of the research, cities will spend millions of dollars to clear their roads. This could be an essential solution to their problems.

Tuan added carbon particles and steel shavings into the regular mix of asphalt. The newly introduced compounds, however, make up for just 20% of its composition, which means that the result is mostly just concrete in the end. That underlines the fact that his invention won’t actually result in asphalt of a lower quality.

Once the mix hardens, the concrete will be able to conduct electricity that will melt the snow and ice, remaining warm enough for the job, yet harmless to human contact. According to Tuan, when conductive concrete is in use, the entire area heats up. There will be no isolated cold regions where patches of ice could appear. It could be an exceptional material to be used on bridges, highways, and other major roads that need quick clearing.

The FAA, however, intends to use it only on the tarmacs. Tuan stated that he was “surprised” they did not wish to use it on the runways. However, the de-icing concrete will be of great benefit as the tarmac is usually the place that gets covered with snow and needs quick clearing. It’s the center of transportation for numerous services around the airport, and usually why delays appear.

Tuan worked on his own projects and on several other practical experiments. Back in 2002, the researcher worked at the construction of a 150 foot long Roca Spur Bridge made with conductive concrete. In the 5 year long trial run, the bridge became the peak example of what he’s aiming for. Even more, he stated that he’s currently using conductive concrete around his own patio, which has worked wonderfully.

Tuan “practices what he preaches” and has firm belief in his invention. However, it would likely be too expensive to start replacing the normal asphalt with conductive concrete. It would make more sense to simply introduce it on bridges, driveways, intersections, or other areas which prove difficult to drive through during the colder months.

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