AMES, Iowa (AP) – Roads can become dangerous and deadly during the winter's anger, and a project along the way in Iowa looks at a possible solution: Pavement heating.
Iowa Department of Transportation and Iowa State University work together on heated pavement technology, Ames Tribune reports.
ISU engineer professor Halil Ceylan is also director of the Institute for Transport's program for sustainable pavement engineering. He is the principal researcher of the heated sidewalk project, which began as a class project.
"Considering the harsh winter conditions we have here, we thought of a solution to safely travel to the public," Ceylan said. 1
This test received the attention of the Iowa Department of Transportation, which, together with the Highway Research Board, now provides funding for the study.
"Winter can be tough in Iowa. If there is anything that can help increase mobility and public safety, we will look into it," said Bob Younie, director of the DOT maintenance office.
Ceylan said the project starts as any road project, with poured concrete. Then three inch electrically conductive concrete is poured on top – the layer that actually heats.
The project coat stays around 40 degrees when the power is turned on – just enough to melt ice and snow.
The problem is the cost. Ceylan said that the electrically conductive concrete is 50 percent more expensive than ordinary concrete per square meter, and the cost of heating the bottom plate is 2.8 cents per hour.
Iowa state officials have experimented with 10 different concrete slabs, each with varying sizes and diameters of electrodes. Ceylan said it allowed an opportunity to see which turned out to be the most energy efficient.
Several samples remain to be done.
"Every winter is unique and different," said Ceylan. "The more we test it, the better understanding we have of the long-term system."