April 16, 2004

Anti-Ice Coating Passes Test

There's a bridge along Wisconsin's Highway 8 that's notorious for ice and bad wrecks. But this winter, no one has spun out and slammed into the guardrails above the Wolf River, and officials say that's no accident. There's a new anti-icing pavement overlay. It's a sheet of epoxy covered with an aggregate. From the top, it looks like kitty litter. A cross section looks more like toffee covered with lots of chopped nuts.
"It acts sort of like a hard sponge," says inventor Russ Alger, of Michigan Technological University. "You put a light amount of de-icing chemical on there, and it keeps coming up to the surface."

As for the bridge along Highway 8 that was chosen to test the material: so far, so good. There have been no accidents so far this winter, and crews have applied magnesium chloride to the bridge only five times, fewer than half the typical number.

"One time I was out there, and the bridge was white on both sides and wet in the middle," said Ron Cole, patrol superintendent of the Forest County Highway Department. "It's been a success in my mind."
Alger hopes that the Wolf River Bridge success will be repeated elsewhere. The next test of his anti-icing overlay will be at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

There's no mention of the cost, but I'm guessing it's going to be coming to your hometown, if you live where it snows, in just a few years.

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