|Dec 07, 2009
||Posted By: Alex Navrotski
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We had the first snow of the season here in Chicago, which means everything on the road will soon be lightly crusted in salt. While salt is great at keeping the roads clear, the corrosive runoff tends to do a number on the steel in bridges, road supports, and your car. There are alternatives to using salt, like piping hot water under the pavement or introducing additives such as steel shavings that produce heat in the presence of a little electricity. However, those methods work too slowly or are far too costly to implement.
Fortunately, there's still hope for those who wish their driveways would just shovel themselves. Christiana Chang and her colleagues at the University of Houston used paper embedded with cone-shaped nanofibers to heat a 10cm thick chunk of garden-variety road concrete from -10 to 0 degrees Celsius in two hours. That’s just enough to prevent snow and ice from accumulating in the first place.
The nanofiber paper Chang and colleagues are using is already widely and cheaply used to make electronics, but it will still take a considerable amount of work to scale up to a full-size roadway. Still, the potential savings on salting, plowing, and maintenance could make self-heating roads cost-effective
[Source: NewScientist via AutoBlog]