Winter is upon us, and though it has been warmer than usual, those days are limited; sooner or later the roads will be covered in snow, and the city will deal with that issue by dumping a bunch of salt. It’s a common practice, one that can be extremely hazardous if the trucks are delayed or salt availability is limited. The solution may be something that seems incredibly obvious, though: asphalt that is infused with salt.
According to the American Chemical Society, the project was done by Seda Kizilel and a team of researchers who wanted to see if they could make a road that is ice-proof. They did just that, more or less, by mixing salt potassium formate with styrene-butadiene-styrene, a polymer.
That mixture was then combined with bitumen, the primary ingredient in asphalt. The finalized composite material proved to be as strong as regular bitumen, but it had an added perk: ice formation was “significantly delayed.” In the researchers’ tests, the ice-delaying function stay viable for two months, but an application in the real world could end up lasting longer.
The ice-melting feature could last for year due to a thick and even layer of the asphalt when applied to roads. As cars drive over the road, they slowly wear away the asphalt to expose a fresh layer of the material that continues to melt the ice and snow. Plans to get the material into regular production wasn’t detailed.