Feasibility of Anti-Icing Airfield Pavements Using Conductive Concrete and Renewable Solar Energy
Snow, ice, and slush pavement conditions significantly impact aircraft landing, takeoff, and ground operational safety. Snow removal operations, involving plowing and chemical treatment, are costly to airport operators and result in delays to the traveling public. This report presents an alternative approach that combines photovoltaic energy with conductive concrete to develop an anti-icing airfield pavement to prevent snow/ice accumulation. This approach maintains the concrete slab surface at an above-freezing temperature using direct current energy supplied by a photovoltaic and battery system. To test this approach, the University of Arkansas Engineering Research Center constructed a series of conductive concrete overlay test sections. The thermal mass properties of concrete were used in this work to minimize energy demands. Energy was continually supplied to the concrete mass to maintain a uniform temperature and, therefore, to negate the need of an energy surge to remove snow.
Although the conductive concrete test sections showed some heat gain from the photovoltaic energy system, the overall heat gain was not sufficient to ensure reliable snow-melting capabilities during cold and windy conditions. Additionally, the costs for additional photovoltaic cells and batteries necessary to supply the energy needed for the system would result in poor cost-to-benefit ratios.
Author: Ernie Heymsfield, Adam B. Osweiler, R. Panneer Selvam, and Mark Kuss