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FAA testing a concrete way to clear snow

FAA testing a concrete way to ...
The FAA is interested in potentially using the technology at airports
The FAA is interested in potentially using the technology at airports
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The FAA is interested in potentially using the technology at airports
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The FAA is interested in potentially using the technology at airports
Professor Chris Tuan's material conducts electricity, thereby giving off heat and melting any snow and ice that has settled on it
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Professor Chris Tuan's material conducts electricity, thereby giving off heat and melting any snow and ice that has settled on it

Anyone who's dealing with the current snowstorm in the US will know that clearing snow is hard work and futile if there's another dump. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Chris Tuan may have put an end to the need to shovel snow, however. His conductive concrete simply melts any snow that lands.

The special concrete has added steel shavings and carbon particles that make up around 20 percent of the mixture. This is enough to allow the solidified material to conduct electricity, thereby giving off heat and melting any snow and ice that has settled on it. Despite this, it remains safe to the touch.

Tuan, a professor of civil engineering, and his research team are working with the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to test the concrete. According to Tuan, the FAA is interested in potentially using the technology at airports.

"To my surprise, they don't want to use it for the runways," says Tuan. "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."

Professor Chris Tuan's material conducts electricity, thereby giving off heat and melting any snow and ice that has settled on it
Professor Chris Tuan's material conducts electricity, thereby giving off heat and melting any snow and ice that has settled on it

Airports wouldn't be the first application of Tuan's conductive concrete. A form of the material was on a bridge as far back in 2002 and is said to have been successfully de-icing its surface ever since. While he says it's not cost effective to lay entire roads using conductive concrete, Tuan says that it is well suited to targeted locations like this, with other suitable locations including intersections, exit ramps, driveways and sidewalks.

In a similar use of technology, Tuan has also shown that concrete with the mineral magnetite mixed into it can be used to block electromagnetic waves. Such a material could be used for protecting against cell-phone triggered attacks or espionage.

The conductive concrete is being tested with the FAA until March this year.

Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

12 comments
oldguy
I wish Chris Tuan and his concrete all the best! I hope he makes loads of money and has a happy life! I hope the concrete is very successful! Okay, Im trapped in my house by snow and probably will be for the next few days, so I guess you can see where my heads at.
Observer101
I have a private drive 1/4 mile long, 10 feet wide. I wonder how much electricity it would take to heat it up during the winters?
Stephen N Russell
For whole Midwest & NE SE airports alone & select frwy on/off ramps. Read someplace in FB about snow hitting East that WONT melt even by blowtorch, FYI
bugnuker
I hope they consider what large installations of this stuff may do to customary soil temperatures, as well as energy usage.
vcr
This has to have ADDED CARBON - is this somewhere we can park all that extra carbon we have a problem with or is it only CO2 (cant we split that CO2 to then use the nuisance carbon) ? Next - if they make a do-it-yourself recipe - we will ALL GET OUR DRIVES REFINISHED WITH THIS STUFF - big new industry ready to blossom - then local people can pay for their county to refinish certain areas too !
darkcook
I see the embedded steel particles as a future failure area due to corrosion and visible surface rust blooms. Others have hit on the power consumption figure. I can't imagine how many KW you'd have to pump into those slabs to raise the temps above freezing. Suffice it to say, its a high number.
Daishi
@Observer101 A 1/4 mile heated concrete driveway would cost a fortune. Even ignoring the heating elements you are looking at about $15/square foot. 1320 * 10 * 15 = $198,000 I don't have numbers for what it would take to buy and power a heating element that big but here is a 40 ft one I used for my kitchen floor: http://www.homedepot.com/p/SunTouch-Floor-Warming-40-ft-x-30-in-240V-Radiant-Floor-Warming-Mat-24004030R/100607092 That's about $10/square foot but one to heat a driveway would require way more power than heating a floor that's already in a climate controlled environment. I think it's safe to assume another $15/square foot or more for the heating element meaning you would be spending $400k or more not counting the electricity required to power it. It might be semi-practical to heat just the end of the driveway where the plow tends to pike snow but in your case just delivering enough power to it over that distance would be a pain.
gizmowiz
Wish I had that on my driveway!
Just Cause
I prefer geothermal heated driveway.
Matt Fletcher
I want to know more. Wonder how much electromagnetic energy it can absorbs naturally from the ground, sun, or atmosphere and also wonder how much is required to melt snow or ice at varying temperatures. As far as supplying electricity to the concrete I can't imagine it's that great of a conductor so this could be significantly more expensive than just plowing but worth looking into.