Can heated concrete become an everyday reality? University of Nebraska professor Chris Tuanset out to find an answer in his lab. Relying on his civil engineering background, Tuan was able to come up with not only a solution for heating concrete but also a more cost-effective approach to melting ice and snow. This discovery opens up a number of possibilities for the future.
The Perfect Cost-Effective Mix
So what is the secret to getting concrete to heat itself and melt away snow and ice? It involves a very careful mixture making up only 20% of your standard formula mixture (cement + sand + gravel) for concrete. Professor Tuan and his team found that adding steel shavings, carbon particles, and steel fibers into the mixture enables the concrete to heat up and melt the ice while remaining safe to touch! Because of this slight change of the mix, using the steel rods that are installed when pouring concrete will provide enough energy to allow the concrete to heat up and melt any snow or ice on top.
What is even more excitingis that using conductive concrete is more cost-effective than the typical costs of hiring de-icing trucks to dump their mixtures on the roads. Those mixtures often are blamed for causing roads to have significant damages including cracks and potholes. With Tuan’s mixture, those methods aren’t needed at all.
One Airport At a Time
It’s no surprise since the FAA is funding Tuan’s research that some of the first testing of this technology is at the airport. While this technology has been researched for more than five years, conductive concrete will soon be tested out on the tarmacs in airports that normally have delays and cancellations due to winter weather conditions. The hope is that installing heat-conductive concrete on the tarmac will enable food and beverage, baggage handling, and maintenance staff to move around without safety concerns. If airport employees can move around without worrying about the conditions, the result will be fewer or smaller delays during the winter season at the airport.
So where might this technologytake us in the future? Municipalities will be able to use this technology to manage conditions on their major highways and roads. On ways and highway ramps can leverage such concrete to manage traffic conditions during winter. Homeowners might also use this mixture for inclined driveways. This could be beneficial in helping them safely commute to and from their home. You could even have this type of concrete installed in a backyard patio, allowing you better access to your backyard during the winter weather.
This new technology can change the way we use concrete and shape the way for the future. To tap this unlimited potential, more research is needed to determine how to best realize this value. As more uses are learned, concrete contractors will have to be ready to adapt to the world of conductive concrete once it becomes available to the consumer.
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