SCIENCE

Special Electric Concrete Can Melt Roads

  • Osvaldo Nunez , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Jan, 26, 2016, 08:35 PM
Tags : science, streets
(Photo : Scott Schrage/University Communications/University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Researchers at the University of Nebraska are working on a new kind of warm concrete that will aid in the cleanup of streets after a snowfall.

The concrete will be warmed by electric currents, allowing it melt snow without the aid of plows and salt trucks. At the moment, the researchers are testing the concrete at a 200-square-foot space outside of Nebraska's Peter Kiewit Institute.

How it works: carbon particles and steel shavings are added to asphalt mix. The additional elements added make just 20 percent of the overall concrete mix. After the material hardens, the particles and shavings can still conduct electricity that can melt snow and ice, and remain harmless to humans.

"When you use conducting concrete, the entire concrete heats up," said lead researcher Chris Tuan, a professor of civil engineering at Nebraska, via National Geographic. "There is no cold area."

The FAA is funding the research. They look to use the concrete for airport tarmacs, however.

"To my surprise, they don't want to use it for the runways," Tuan said in a press release. "What they need is the tarmac around the gated areas cleared, because they have so many carts to unload -- luggage service, food service, trash service, fuel service -- that all need to get into those areas."

"They said that if we can heat that kind of tarmac, then there would be (far fewer) weather-related delays," Tuan said. "We're very optimistic."

It would probably be too expensive to replace all concrete with electricity-conducing concrete, and it would make more sense to use it in strategic locations, like bridges and driveways.

Tuan is already using the special concrete in his own home with success.

"I have a patio in my backyard that is made of conductive concrete," he said. "So I'm practicing what I preach."

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