Researchers 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.