Slipping and sliding on snowy or icy roads makes driving very dangerous. There is a high risk of losing control of your vehicle and having an accident. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in the US alone, about 1,705 deaths are caused by snowy and icy road conditions every year.
Traditionally, road salting is considered an effective solution to this issue. It involves the direct sprinkling of large-crystal rock salt onto roadways using specially equipped salt trucks. The U.S. uses over 24,000,000 tons of salt annually. Although it does help lower the risk of accidents, salting the road can harmfully affect motorists and the environment.
Now, researchers from China’s Hebei University of Science and Technology (and other institutions) have come up with an eco-friendly alternative, that involves mixing microcapsules filled with a chloride-free salt mixture into the asphalt.
As these capsules are added to asphalt before roads are paved, it provides long-term snow-melting capabilities. This chloride-free salt mixture is also less corrosive to steel and other materials. Moreover, these also work at lower temperatures.
In lab tests, the researchers observed that the new additive lowered the freezing point of water from O °C (32 °F) down to -21 °C (-6 °F). They also estimated that a 5cm-thick slab of pavement would be effective at melting snow for seven to eight years.
Image by Ioannis Ioannidis from Pixabay