AUTC project number: 510022
Zhaohui Yang (UAA)
An ongoing collaborative research project is helping find more cost-effective and sustainable de-icing solutions to benefit a wide variety of transportation infrastructure users. Partnering with the AUTC and the University of Houston, researcher Zhaohui Yang of UAA plans to test a carbon fiber tape (CFT) based de-icing technology in hopes of offering an environmentally-friendly, anti-corrosive, cost-effective de-icing technology that can improve transportation safety. This new de-icing technology is potentially applicable to bridge decks, road sections susceptible to icing, airport runways, street crossings and frequently used sidewalks in urban areas in Alaska and other cold regions. Cold regions like Alaska suffer serious transportation system safety problems in the winter months. South central Alaska, Anchorage in particular, is susceptible to a large number of icing events due to frequent freeze/thaw cycles in the winter season. This creates ice on sidewalks, pavement and bridge decks that poses a significant safety risk to pedestrians, travelers/commuters, and commercial drivers alike. Black ice, a thin shiny layer of ice with a slick surface, is of particular concern because of its near invisibility o drivers, pilots and pedestrians. Researchers conducted a series of de-icing and anti-icing experiments. Preliminary results showed a considerable cost reduction for de-icing and anti-icing compared to other electrical resistance heating type technologies. Researchers found that the new technology demonstrates excellent de-icing capability and shows great potential for application in the transportation industry. Continuing the research, Yang and his team aim to address three important areas of question that arose during the pilot testing: The impact of heating panel embedment to structural integrity of pavement/bridge decks, The impact of coupled thermal cycling (from de-icing operation) and freeze/thaw cycling (due to ambient temperature fluctuations) to the mechanical properties of pavement, and The impact of electromagnetic field generated by the de-icing operation on the corrosion of steel reinforcement in the pavement/bridge deck. Combined lab and field work will address these issues. Field experiments, such as structure member testing, will assess the impact of the heating panel embedment to structural integrity of Portland cement concrete pavement. Laboratory testing of samples obtained from the outdoor pilot experiment facility will help evaluate the impact of coupled heating/cooling and freeze/thaw cycles upon concrete pavement. Findings from the test sidewalk laboratory test will be incorporated into a sidewalk to be constructed on the UAA campus to evaluate the field performance of this new technology.