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Take These Chains From My Tires

Finally, someone’s claiming to have developed the Cure for the Common Snow-and-Ice-Covered Road.

CNN reports that an electrical engineer named Scott Brusaw has come up with an idea to pave roads with “super-strong” glass embedded with heating elements.  The idea is to have the roads serve as giant solar panels, powering the heating elements to melt ice and snow before it can stick.  He even thinks that, one day, the Solar Highway could recharge electric cars and generate energy for other uses.

Meanwhile, another engineer, Rajib Mallick at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, is working on heat-absorbing roads that might use pipes beneath the surface filled with a sort of anti-freeze that warms up in hot weather and is kept hot for when it’s needed to melt snow and ice in the winter — sort of the reverse of how they do hockey rinks.

The products of neither of these projects is imminent, of course.  There’s a lot to work out, from cost (and who pays) to making glass with enough traction for driving.  And we’ve seen cool ideas like these before that never seem to pan out.  But I can remember the days when I lived in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, sliding all over the road in snow and ice and thinking, geez, why can’t the roads have coils to melt this stuff the same way the rear window defroster works?  Maybe they can after all.  It can’t come soon enough.

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6 comments

  • Gasification (sp?) is a process I heard of that super-heats garbage into a dense glass-like material that could be used with the heating element idea. So, we could one day be driving on our garbage, instead of burying it in the ground.

  • Ya know those nice fancy houses that have heated bathroom floors…it’s kinda the same concept just needs to be tweaked and improved a bit! (^_^)
    We have a bridge here where I live that squirts out some deicer stuff when it snows but I don’t think that would work for long stretches of road, it would be pricey to have that much deicer squirt out everywhere and I don’t think that much of that stuff would be great on the environment…we just need some hovercraft space cars that float above the ice – problem solved!

  • I’m just imagining how painful the road rash would be.

    @sawyer -> I was wondering the same thing. What about at night?

    The only thing I could see that would make sense would be if you could somehow place the nations power grid in the highways, and use the highways as a solar panel, but also have electric cars use their regenerative braking to also charge the grid. With the regenerative braking to charge the grid, you would probably have to further the technology of wireless power, like those duracell charging stations for your cellphones.