January 19


Naturally De-Icing Asphalt

By Mike Spack

January 19, 2016

asphalt, de-icing, roads

Snow and Ice Covered RoadsResearchers at Koc University in Istanbul, Turkey have developed a new asphalt mix that de-ices itself by slowly releasing a salt mixture.  Specifically, potassium formate is combined with the water repelling polymer styrene-butadiene-styrene, which is then added to the bitumen that goes into making asphalt.

Since road salt is hard on cars and their tires, this type of asphalt should be used judiciously.  I don’t know if this particular mix is THE answer, but building roads that don’t ice over is a very important goal.  The Minnesota DOT spent more than $130 million in 2015 on snow plowing and de-icing.  Plus, this asphalt would save the cost of hundreds of crashes (and several fatalities) caused by ice and snow in Minnesota each year.

Worldwide, it’s easy to see that self-de-icing roads would save billions of dollars per year.  I’d like to invest in the company that comes up with the patented asphalt additive – someone will make a lot of money!

With the advances in material science, I expect we’ll see self-de-icing roads in my career.  The mix from Koc University may be a big step in that direction.

  • I’d like to present something like this to my small upstate New York city’s Common Council as a possible solution for a nearly four season bikeway throughout the community. We have a (relatively) new Comprehensive Plan and Downtown Revitalization Plan, both of which place heavy emphasis on the community’s walking and bike riding scale.

    Are you, perhaps, aware of anyone experimenting with this material for that purpose?

    Good article, and thank you for posting it.

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    Mike Spack

    My mission is to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.

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