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Federal Highway Administration / Publications / Focus / January 1996

Accelerating Infrastructure Innovations

Publication Number: FHWA-SA-96-012
Date: January 1996

Anti-Icing Study Completed

To wrap up its 2-year anti-icing test and evaluation project (TE 28), FHWA hosted a symposium on anti-icing technology in October in Estes Park, Colorado. The more than 200 participants represented State and local highway agencies, academia, consultants, suppliers, and manufacturers.

The symposium culminated an extensive field test initiated under SHRP of various anti-icing technologies.* The 15 participating highway agencies reported on the strategies used and the benefits gained from using anti-icing technologies. The contractor for the project, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL), summarized the final overall results and described the methodologies used in the study.

The traditional method of clearing ice and snow from roadways involves deicing, which focuses on breaking the bond that had formed between the pavement and the snow or ice. Now, using road weather information systems (RWIS) and anti-icing strategies, highway agencies can prevent a strong bond from forming. While anti-icing technology itself is not new, advancements in RWIS enable highway agencies to develop and implement strategies for effectively applying anti-icing techniques. The focus of anti-icing strategies is to combine available resources to develop a systematic approach that would be appropriate for a variety of weather conditions and roadway locations.

According to Stephen Ketcham, CRREL's principal investigator for the project, anti-icing technology incorporates a number of methods currently being used in America.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about what anti-icing is," says Ketcham. "One of the things we needed to do was to show that many of the current American practices are essentially anti-icing, and the evaluation project allowed us to do this."

Ketcham stressed that local experiences are an important component of anti-icing strategies. "We certainly don't want to turn our backs on experience; rather, we want to take the positive strategies that local highway agencies have developed and incorporate them into systematic, effective programs."

Based on data from the study, CRREL has developed a manual of practice for anti-icing operations under a variety of storm conditions. The manual provides a guidance document that highway agencies can use to develop their own localized anti-icing strategies. A draft of the manual was distributed at the conference, and FHWA is currently soliciting comments. CRREL will revise the manual in light of those comments, and the manual will be available for distribution in early 1996.

"There is no one definitive answer for anti-icing," says Salim Nassif, project manager for FHWA's TE 28. "You have to look at it on a storm-by-storm basis."

Beginning early next year, FHWA's Office of Technology Applications will be conducting snow and ice showcase workshops on a regional basis throughout the United States. The workshops will provide an in-depth look at the SHRP-developed products for snow and ice control on highways, such as the snow scoop, new snow fence designs, RWIS, anti-icing strategies, and deicing chemicals.

For more information about FHWA's snow and ice workshops, contact Salim Nassif at FHWA at 202-366-1557 (fax: 202-366-9981).

* (See the December 1994/January 1995 Focus about Test and Evaluation Project 28.)

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Updated: 06/27/2017
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