Thin Conductive Concrete Overlay for Bridge Deck Deicing and Anti-Icing

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Transportation Research Record



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Concrete bridge decks are prone to ice accumulation. Bridge decks freeze before the roads approaching them freeze, making wintry highway travel treacherous. Road salts and deicing chemicals are effective for ice removal but cause damage to concrete and corrosion of reinforcing steel in concrete bridge decks. The resulting rapid degradation of existing concrete pavements and bridge decks is a major concern to transportation and public-works officials. The use of insulation materials for ice control and electric or thermal heating for deicing have been attempted, with unsatisfactory results. Conductive concrete is a cementitious admixture containing electrically conductive components to attain high and stable electrical conductivity. Due to its electrical resistance and impedance, a thin conductive concrete overlay can generate enough heat to prevent ice formation on a bridge deck when connected to a power source. In 1998, Yehia and Tuan, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, developed a conductive concrete mix specifically for bridge deck deicing. In this application, a conductive concrete overlay is cast on the top of a bridge deck for deicing or anti-icing. The mechanical and physical properties of the conductive concrete mix after 28 days have met ASTM and AASHTO specifications. Two concrete slabs were constructed with a 9-cm (3.5-in.) conductive concrete overlay for conducting deicing experiments in the natural environment. Deicing and anti-icing experiments were conducted in five 1998 snowstorms. Average power of about 590 W/m2 (55 W/ft2) was generated by the conductive concrete overlays to prevent snow and ice accumulation.