Federal Regulations Restrict Concrete Innovation

(p. B1) Chris Tuan, a professor of civil engineering for the University of Nebraska at the Peter Kiewit Institute, has been perfecting an electrically semiconductive concrete over the past 20 years.
The mixture includes a 20 percent mix of steel fibers, shavings and carbon added to a traditional concrete mix. Steel reinforcing bars serve as the conductor, and once electricity is added, the concrete heats to 35 to 40 degrees — just enough to melt the ice and snow.
. . .
For now, the concrete can’t be used in public spaces. Anything exposed and electrified above 48 volts — much less than the 208 volts used in Tuan’s concrete — is considered high voltage and is not allowed. Federal law will have to be rewritten to change that.
. . .
Tuan said traditional concrete needs to be replaced every five years or so. Without chemical use, the electric concrete lasts much longer, with fewer potholes. His concrete is also maintenance-free, because the power cords and conductive rods are encased in the concrete and not exposed to the elements.
. . .
In 2013 Tuan also implemented his concrete on ramps in China. He recently installed a private driveway in Regency using the legally allowed 48-volt limit, which is less energy efficient.
“If the government or if insurance agencies approve this technology, then everybody can use it,” Tuan said. “But right now, it’s almost cost prohibitive.”

For the full story, see:
Reece Ristau. “In Concrete World, This Is Hot Stuff.” Omaha World-Herald (Tues., JAN. 15, 2016): B1 & B2.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the title “Special Concrete Mix Can Melt Snow and Ice All by Itself — Just Add Electricity.”)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.