Speaking of infrastructure improvements:
Dr. Chris Tuan, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and his team of researchers have developed a concrete mixture prototype that melts away falling snow and ice by conducting electricity.
Steel rods beneath the concrete’s surface connect to electrodes, which connect to a 120-volt AC power source.
Carbon byproducts from coal mining and steel shavings from industrial waste make up only 20 percent of the otherwise typical concrete mixture, but the conductivity is strong enough to clear the surface.
Still, it’s not cheap: Tuan’s concrete runs $300 per cubic yard, compared to $120 per cubic yard of regular concrete.
But the typical salt and de-icing chemicals used on streets can corrode concrete and lead to potholes. Tuan said this makes his conductive concrete an even more attractive option, with a greater upfront price tag offsetting later maintenance and operating costs.
“Bridges always freeze up first, because they’re exposed to the elements on top and bottom,” Tuan told UNL Today. “It’s not cost-effective to build entire roadways using conducive concrete, but you can use it at certain locations where you always get ice or have potholes.”
“Statistics indicate that 10 to 15 percent of all roadway accidents are directly related to weather conditions,” Tuan explains in his 2008 analysis of the bridge study. “This percentage alone represents thousands of human injuries and deaths and millions of dollars in property damage annually … The conductive concrete deicing technology is readily available for implementation at accident-prone areas such as bridge overpasses, exit ramps, airport runways, street intersections, sidewalks and driveways.”
(click here to continue reading Electric concrete to melt snow faster – Business Insider.)
also, there are environmental advantages to using less de-icing materials:
Conductive concrete can alleviate environmental damage by reducing the amount of salt and chemicals dispersed on roads and sidewalks after storms. Melting snow and ice carries deicing chemicals into local waterways and nearby soils, which in turn can slow plant growth and attract animals into dangerous roadways.
Cool. Err, well, interesting…