Design and Evaluation of a Retrofittable Electric Snow Melting System for Pavements
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The objective of this research is to develop a novel electrically conductive heating system that can be retrofitted to existing asphalt pavements. This system is designed for permanent installation on the pavement surface, thus eliminating the expensive reconstruction required for embedded systems and the inconvenience of placing and then removing portable heating mats. The research approach combined theoretical analyses based on the physics of the problem, laboratory explorations of potential system components, and large scale testing to evaluate the constructability, functionality, and efficiency of the full system. The final system design consisted of a low-voltage grid of Nickel Chromium wire resistance heaters embedded in an asphalt sealcoat surface layer. Outdoor testing during an actual snowstorm conclusively demonstrated the effectiveness of the system for melting snow, even during continuing accumulations. Based on these evaluations, several practical designs suitable for production use are suggested. Installation and operating costs are also evaluated.