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Researchers from Drexel University discovered what they described as being the secret ingredient to make roads melt ice and snow down by themselves.
According to them, adding paraffin wax to the concrete mix make the road surface capable of melting ice and snow much faster than normal roads. A professor from the Engineering School in Drexel University says that paraffin oil is known as a phase change material in chemistry. The paraffin oil stocks energy in itself and can set it free as heat when the roads need to be defrosted.
“By inhibiting the formation of ice and snow on the pavement or bridge surface, the use of PCM may reduce or eliminate the need for deicing chemicals/salts, snowplowing or both — thus saving money and positively influencing the environmental impact of such operations.”, says the professor Yaghoob Farnam.
Paraffin is found in candles, wax polish cleaners, cosmetics and water proof products. The engineers chose it because it is organic, widely available and cheap. Although the new formula to the roads without ice seems promising, scientists are pointing out to the difficult to convince the long time road builders to change their procedures.
“A new concrete formulation needs very, very thorough field testing before contractors would dare to use it, because there are liability issues,” points out Deborah Chung, an engineering professor at SUNY University at Buffalo, NY. “To get a new concrete to be accepted by contractors, it’s a long haul.”, she adds.