Those not blessed with endless sun have to put up with road salt each and every winter, and it does a number on cars and roadways alike. There must be a better option, right?
Enter Christiana Chang and her colleagues at the University of Houston in Texas. The researchers are developing self-heating roads that would melt off the snow and ice without resorting to a powdery mess of road salt. There are a number of ways to go about heating the road, including coating it in fly ash or steel shavings and sending electricity through it or pumping heated water through the concrete, but the system favored by Chang is predictably a bit more high-tech.
Sheets of cone-shaped carbon nanofibers are embedded in paper and placed under the roadway. Electricity heats these sheets, thereby melting the sloppy wintery mix. According to Chang, this system consumes less power than other options and the carbon nanotube-embedded paper sheets are cheap and plentiful. Will it ever see the light of day? We hope so, for the sake of our salt-covered buddies out east, of course.
[Source: NewScientist | Image: J.D. Pooley/Getty Images]