Prototype Development of a Piezo-heating Array for Deicing Applications on Bridges

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CAIT project no.: CAIT-UTC-064

Fiscal Year: 2015/2016

Status: Final

Rutgers-CAIT Author(s): Ali Maher, Ph.D., Patrick Szary, Ph.D.

External Author(s): Hamid Ghasemi, Ph.D.

Sponsor(s): FHWA - RITA, FHWA - Turner Fairbanks Highway Research Center


The proof-of-concept prototype will be a scaled model of a bridge and its approach slab. The model will have a scaled version of an axle tandem loading the approach slab. On the approach slab, the team will install the prototype technology – a piezo-electric array linked (in series?) and tied to a battery. As the axle tandem rolls on the model bridge approach, electricity will be generated and stored. The prototype will serve as an example of how modern bridge approach slabs could be constructed to harness the energy produced by truck traffic to mitigate winter conditions.

The team envisions triggering a heat element to raise the temperature of the mock road-surface up to sufficient temperature to surpass the needed energy to melt an inch of snow or moderate amount of ice.  The prototype will be constructed to conform to a technical memorandum documenting performance metrics for a successful competitor to deicing chemicals. NCHRP Synthesis 449 offers several conditions that contribute to deicing performance:

– In a case study, the shift from using rock salt to brine for deicing led to roughly 50% materials savings, as the standard application rate of rock salt and salt brine was 250 pounds and 50 gallons per lane mile, respectively, and 1 ton of rock salt makes about 1,000 gallons of brine (Dave Frame, CalTrans, personal communication, Apr. 5, 2012).

– “When the pavement temperature drops below −12.2ºC (10ºF), salt is no longer cost-effective, and agencies thus utilize other chemicals either alone or as pre-wetting agent to enhance the performance of salt (Ohio DOT 2011) or apply abrasives to provide a traction layer on pavement.”

Other resources to consider in the development of this performance metric will be the following:

– Manual of Practice for an Effective Anti-icing Program (FHWA, Ketcham 1996)

– NCHRP Report 577 “Guidelines for the Selection of Snow and Ice Control Materials to Mitigate Environmental Impacts”

– Burtwell, M., Transportation Research Circular Number E-C063: Deicing Trails on UK Roads: Performance of Prewetted Salt Spreading and Dry Salt Spreading, Sixth International Symposium on Snow Removal and Ice Control Technology (04-063)

– CTC & Associates, LLC, Anti-icing in Winter Maintenance Operations: Examination of Research and Survey of State Practice, Transportation Research Synthesis 0902, Minnesota Local Road Research Board, May 2009

– Luker, C., B. Rokosh, and T. Leggett, Transportation Research Circular E-C063: Laboratory Melting Performance Comparison: Rock Salt With and Without Prewetting, Sixth International Symposium on Snow Removal and Ice Control Technology (04-032)