With sub-zero temperatures a regular appearance throughout British winters, the need for concrete repairs to roads and structures isn’t going away any time soon – however, there’s a very special concrete which could provide the answer to some of our issues when it comes to ice, snow and concrete surfaces.
Created by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the US, conductive concrete can rid pavements of ice and snow without the need for chemicals. While the majority of the make-up of this concrete is exactly what you’d expect to find inside this material, 20 per cent of consists of steel shavings and carbon particles, according to Science Alert. This gives it enough conductivity to melt ice and snow while still remaining safe.
In Nebraska, with its large quantities of sub-zero weather, the material developed by civil engineer Chris Tuan has found many uses, but it’s now being looked at by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for inclusion at airports. However, rather than being used for entire railways, its application is thought to be more for loading areas to keep access available for goods and loading vehicles.
Its use is very much determined by the cost of the material to produce. Of course, it is much more expensive than concrete so is best used in small quantities where the effect is maximised.
The conductive concrete has been in use since 2002 in Nebraska on the Roca Spur Bridge. “Bridges always freeze up first, because they’re exposed to the elements on top and bottom,” said Tuan.
This bridge was the first in the world to use the material and has 52 slabs along the length of the roadway, which act as a de-icer.