No Need For Ice Melt?
Imagine a winter without the need for ice melt. Researchers at Drexel, Purdue and Oregon State University are working with concrete admixtures to hopefully make this a reality. Their research includes the addition of phase changing materials such as paraffin, coconut, or palm oils into the concrete mix and has proven to melt snow in certain conditions. The phase change materials release thermal energy as they solidify, meaning as the temperature drops, they release heat, which melts the snow. The inclusion of the phase changing materials in the concrete mix result in a one-time cost at construction rather than reoccurring costs, such as electricity, in cases where heating elements are embedded in concrete for snow melting. More information on the research can be found at the following link: http://drexel.edu/now/archive/2017/September/self-melting-concrete-roads/.
The Researchers state that this technology is ideal for the Mid-Atlantic region as the performance of the phase changing materials works best where the temperature frequently moves above and below freezing. There are many benefits to eliminating the use of deicing chemicals. Reduced operating costs and the reduced deterioration of concrete structures are the most beneficial to Building Owners. While to the environment, eliminating the use of traditional deicers will help keep the millions of tons of salt used in the region during a typical winter from entering the local waterways.
The new mix additives are expected to begin large scale testing in early 2018. While probably a few years away from widespread commercial implementation, it is nice to think that one day we may never need to clear our sidewalk of snow.