Technology

Cool Heads Create Heated Concrete

Electric Current

A totally new form of concrete created by researchers at the University of Nebraska has an intriguing superpower that could probably save lives.

In the old days, people would wonder about the inventions of the future.  Things like flying cars, dishwashers, computers, television, were just some of the inventions that once were just imaginary dreams but later came to fruition.  Scientists and inventors are always looking at ways to make life easier, and in the case of the researchers at the University of Nebraska, they’ve come up with a way to make snowy roads a thing of the past.

What they’ve invented and are testing is actually a new form of concrete that incorporates electricity to warm it up during cold snowy weather.

What’s that?  Concrete roads and sidewalks that melt the snow away?  No more shoveling, no more plowing, no more salted roads.  It’s like a dream come true.  There’s got to be a catch, right?

The concrete is a special blend of carbon particles and steel shavings as well as asphalt.   More mixing and configuring go into the process until it hardens and is able to be placed where it is designated.

The FAA is behind the research as well, using the concrete for high human traffic areas around the terminals, not the runways.  The application of this type of technology is considerable but it will need some cost cutting in production to be affordable on a wide scale.  It’s a good bet that after the primary testing is done that researchers will try variations of the materials needed to construct them to make the concrete more within the reach of the average consumer, businesses, and government.

Chris Tuan
Dr. Chris Tuan stands on a slab of conductive concrete that can carry enough electrical current to melt ice during cold days. (Image Credits: SCOTT SCHRAGE/UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS)

Imagine driveways that heat up and no longer needing to be shoveled after a heavy snow.  It sure would cut down on the injuries and deaths that occur every year from over exertion.  Sidewalks cleared of snow so that people won’t stumble and fall and file lawsuits.  Easier access on highways and roads so that travel and emergency vehicles don’t get blocked or slide off the roads.  Consider the amount of snow related accidents that would drop off the map.

Supermarkets and other business with large parking lots would save a ton of money and worry.  No more big bills hiring a snow removal company and the amount of money cities and towns could save would be immense.  Taxpayers would really see the savings.

Sure it would take a lot of money removing old concrete and asphalt but it could be mulched and used in the new concrete.  Recycling like this would save a ton of money too.  It would cut down significantly the tax dollars and investment dollars needed to apply this technology.

It all sounds great but there’s sure to be some conflicts as people who make their living on removing snow will find themselves at a considerable loss.  That includes department workers for cities and towns and private snow removal contractors.

One day this new concrete will be available to the average consumer but when that happens is unclear.

So keep an eye out in your area for whether this new invention hits.  It’s sure to be something that people of the past had imagined, now coming true.

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