Driving in winters could soon become easier and safer, thanks to a new material developed by scientists that could `de-ice’ snow-covered, slippery roads potentially for years.The new road material delays the formation of ice compared to conventional materials, researchers said. Every winter, when weather forecasters predict snow or icy conditions, local governments deploy trucks that dust roads with salt, sand or other chemical mixtures to help prevent ice build-up.
Residents break out their own supply to keep their walkways and driveways from freezing over and becoming dangerously slick. However, the de-icer does not stay on the streets for long. Melting snow and vehicles driving by wash or force it off, making re-application necessary. To break this cycle, Seda Kizilel and colleagues from Koc University in Turkey wanted to see if they could devise a way to ice-proof the road itself.
The researchers started with the salt potassium formate and combined it with the polymer styrene-butadiene-styrene. They added this mixture to bitumen, a major component of asphalt. The resulting material was just as sturdy as unmodified bitumen, and it significantly delayed ice formation in lab studies.
The new composite released de-icing salt for two months in the lab, but the effects could last even longer when used on real roads, the researchers said. In that instance, the salt-polymer composite would be evenly embedded throughout the asphalt. Thus, as cars and trucks drive over and wear away the pavement, the salt could continually be released -potentially for years, researchers said.