Dr. Yaghoob Farnam, an assistant professor in Drexel University’s College of Engineering, knows that harsh winters pose a significant challenge for the folks who design, build and maintain roads. In an interview with Drexel's News Blog this week, he shared some background on his research:"One of the things that my research group has been looking for is better options for deicing. We are designing special types of phase change material — like paraffin wax or vegetable oil — that can be used to expedite the snow/ice melting process. Right now we have lab-scale work that is very promising. We have proven that these materials can melt about two inches of snow and they will stay in the pavement for longer periods of time, which saves the labor of reapplying it before every snow/ice event. Imagine how much salt and snow plowing could be avoided! By keeping the snow and ice from sitting on the road surface, the phase change materials could also reduce damage from freeze-thaw cycles.
"We are reaching out to local departments of transportation, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration, as possible research partners who could help support full-scale outdoor testing — and benefit from the findings."