Image © University of Rhode Island
Another method would see the installation of water pipes under the roadway. Heated water could be flushed through the pipes to melt ice one the roads, making them safer to drive on. It would also eliminate the need for salting roads, which would reduce carbon emissions related to hauling and spreading salt by truck. Graduate student Andrew Correia has built a prototype of such a system in a URI laboratory to evaluate its effectiveness. “One property of asphalt is that it retains heat really well,” Lee said. “My tests showed that during some circumstances, the water even gets hotter than the asphalt.”
The third options uses the thermoelectric effect, which occurs when hot and cold spots are linked by semiconductors. By planting semiconductors at different depths, the heat from the asphalt can be collected.