Wax could help roads de-ice themselves
Researchers tested the de-icing capabilities of concrete slabs featuring paraffin-filled pipes and a light-weight paraffin-treated aggregate. During testing at temperatures between 35˚F and 44˚F, snow on the control slab remained frozen, while slabs intersected by paraffin melted away the snow within 25 hours.
In the first round of testing, paraffinfilled pipes were more efficient than the paraffin aggregate.
When scientists tested the different slabs at temperatures below freezing, they found the concrete aggregate treated with paraffin proved more effective at keeping the slab free of snow and ice.
Farnam said, “The gradual heat release due to the different pore sizes in porous light-weight aggregate is more beneficial in melting snow when concrete is exposed to variety of temperature changes when snow melting or deicing is needed.
“We believe that using porous lightweight aggregate can be potential way of incorporating phase change materials in concrete as it is easy to be implemented in practice and can cover environmental conditions of various locations in the US dealing with snow, especially melting snow or deicing in roads and bridges in the Northeast.”
Researchers plan to test the paraffin aggregate at larger scales. The technology could eventually be installed on highways and airport runways, but first scientists need to make sure paraffin doesn’t negatively affect the pavement’s durability or traction.