Heated Roads, Bridges? A Look Into Conductive Cement

In a recent article from Civil Engineering called “Conductive Cement Could Pave Way to Heated Roads, Bridges,” we are introduced to a new technology that could improve safety, as well as reduce heating and maintenance costs.

Imagine driving down I-69 after a snowstorm, with no concerns of slick and icy roads. According to researchers in Spain at the Universidad de Alicante, it’s not that far off. The research team in the university’s civil engineering department is working to develop composite cement that contains electricity much better than conventional concrete.

Here are some interesting points gathered from the article:

  • According to Pedro Garces Terradillos, a professor at the university and the research team’s leader, the team began working on the technology more than 10 years ago. He believes the cement could someday be used to make conductive concrete for use in roadways, buildings, and other facets of infrastructure.
  • Applying a continuous electric voltage to the concrete would cause it to heat up, and such concrete could deice a frozen surface, prevent freezing, or regulate building temperature.
  • Garces’s research team has patented a preliminary design that includes admixtures of carbon nonofibers, nanotubes, and grapheme.
  • However, Garces pointed out that there are still concerns with this technology. A major issue is determining which materials and procedures will ensure proper carbon fiber dispersion in any cement mix so as to safeguard structural integrity.
  • Researchers say the conductive cement could be used one day to coat new and existing surfaces and structures.

In summary, researchers from all over the world have been working on this technology for decades. If it’s economically competitive with that of conventional concrete and it’s used to improve safety, it could be a huge breakthrough for our industry.  Stay tuned!