It’s about that time of the year when roads start freezing over and cars slip-slide into accidents. Fortunately for drivers, Researchers at the University of Houston, Texas want to make these ice-related mishaps a thing of the past with self-heating roads that can keep ice from forming.

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The so-called road radiators consist of sheets of carbon nanofiber that heat concrete with help from an electrical element. Heating a block from -10 C to 0 C takes jut two hours and 6 watts of power. That’s a relatively small amount of energy, but heating up whole roads could be extremely power-intensive.

On the brighter side, paper embedded with carbon nanofibers is cheap since it is already used to make electrical components. And cutting down on salting and snowplowing could easily make up for energy lost through the concrete’s heating element.

We probably won’t see entire roads covered in self-heating concrete any time soon, but spots known for being icy or snowy might be ideal locations for carbon nanofiber-based heat. And if a little extra power is used to save lives, well, we’re all for it.

+ University of Houston

Via New Scientist

Lead photo by Martin Pettitt