InTrans / Jan 18, 2022

Heated pavement research named Focus Technology by AASHTO

Installation of electrodes during ECON HPS construction at the Iowa DOT headquarters

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) recently recognized research performed by the Program for Sustainable Pavement Engineering and Research (PROSPER) that demonstrates the value of an electrically conductive concrete (ECON) heated pavement system (HPS).

The AASHTO Innovation Initiative named the research, led by PROSPER Director Halil Ceylan, a focus technology for 2022. Per the initiative’s website, an executive committee each year “selects highly valuable technologies, processes, software, or other innovations that have been adopted by at least one agency, are proven in use, and will be of significant benefit to other agencies.” It aims to advance innovation from the grassroots up: by agencies, for agencies, and peer-to-peer.

The technology was selected from about 50 other applications in this year’s cycle.

Ceylan and his team have spent the past seven years conducting extensive laboratory testing and material characterization, theoretical and numerical modeling studies, and two full-scale demonstration projects, with another expected this year.

The completed demonstration projects were constructed at the Des Moines International Airport and at the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters, the results of which are summarized here. Another full-scale implementation project is underway as part of a bus stop enhancement in Iowa City.

“I hope this recognition will help us expand our research on conductive concrete for heated bridge decks, rest areas, and other transportation infrastructure system applications as more sustainable and resilient winter maintenance techniques,” Ceylan said of the AASHTO recognition.

He added that agencies face a critical need for an improvement or an alternative to snow and ice removal technology that is dependable, fast, cost-effective, and has minimal impact on the environment, considering both the economic implications of even partially shut-down infrastructure due to snow and ice accumulation and the negative environmental impacts of applying deicing salts to pavement surfaces during these events.

Per the Iowa DOT-submitted application on behalf of the ECON HPS, additional applications could include the following:

  • Businesses and municipalities that have pavement locations with high foot traffic, especially in locations with many physical obstacles
  • Rest areas with high pedestrian use and located in less accessible areas for winter maintenance crews
  • Bridge decks, which are the first locations in a highway system to freeze during the winter season
  • Additional highway locations that include high-traffic volume routes, ramps, and tunnels
  • Further implementation at airports

The application also notes that the HPS technology is in full compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act’s mission to ease the commute conditions of individuals with disabilities, especially during the winter season.