NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A local research team is trying to rethink how North Texas battles slick road conditions during extreme winter weather events.
Xinbao Yu, an associate professor of civil engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington, is leading the research project and says the traditional brine solution TxDOT uses to prevent slick road conditions has harmful side effects.
“The chemicals get mixed with the ice, the iceelts and mixes in the groundwater and pollutes the environment,” Yu explains. “It also does a lot of corrosive damage the the bridges.”
Yu and his team have been working since 2015 to develop a better more environmentally friendly method. He says the system his team is creating harnesses the heat and energy stored beneath earth’s surface which is known as geothermal energy.
“We are using a pipe system that is tapped into the earth and brings that heat to the bridge to keep it from icing,” Yu says.
The warm ground water is pumped through a circulation pipe to bring thermal energy from the ground to the surface of the bridge, warming it to the point where ice and snow melt instead of sticking to the surface.
Professor Yu and his team have been given $100,000 by TxDOT to test the design and perform a cost benefit analysis.
If the experiment is successful, it could be installed and tested on some new and existing bridges in Texas within the next five years.
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