Automatic Electrical De-icing System Using Emerging Carbon Nanofiber Paper: A Pilot Field Testing

AIDC project number: 410014


Zhaohui (Joey) Yang (UAA)

  • US Department of Transportation (RITA)
  • UAA
  • Start Date: Jul 1, 2010
  • End Date: Dec 31, 2012

Project Summary

Snow and ice on pavement and bridge decks are a persistent problem, particularly in Anchorage, where black ice (a thin, nearly transparent layer of ice with a slick surface) often forms on coastal highways and bridge decks spanning open water. Black ice is difficult for motorists to recognize and causes many accidents. Typical de-icing/anti-icing strategies include chemical and thermal approaches. Salting is one of the most commonly used. While salting is cheap and effective, it pollutes the environment and corrodes reinforcing steel bars in concrete, damaging bridges. Calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, and potassium acetate have been used, but high cost is only one drawback of these chemicals. Thermal anti-icing approaches tend to be difficult and expensive to install and maintain. Alaska and other cold regions need an environment-friendly, anti-corrosive, and cost-effective de-icing technology. This project will develop and test an innovative de-icing technology based on emerging nanomaterials. A multidisciplinary team (an electrical engineer, a mechanical engineer, and a civil engineer) will design an electrical deicing system using carbon nanofiber paper, conduct largescale outdoor experiments to collect performance data, assess system reliability and cost-effectiveness, and provide recommendations on using such systems in Alaska. This technology is simple to install, it includes laying CNF paper on the bottom of regular pavement and causes minimal interference in pavement or bridge deck construction and no changes in pavement mix design. Operation costs may be cheaper than available de-icing methods, and this technology will reduce corrosion damage to bridge structures, reducing maintenance costs. Last but not least, this new system may reduce pollution to the environment by minimizing use of chemical de-icers.