Electric Concrete Could Be Solution to Winter Flight Delays

April 23, 2017 5:00 am
Electric Concrete
(Courtesy of Halil Ceylan)
Electric Concrete
(Courtesy of Halil Ceylan)


It’s pretty easy for a traveler to remember the last time a flight they were supposed to take was delayed … because it happens all the time. (Hopefully, you weren’t on this flight.) Inclement weather is a big cause of flight delays, and sometimes even cancellations.

But researchers at Iowa State University want to make sure travelers of the future don’t have to let snow and ice on the ground affect their Thanksgiving or holiday travel plans.

Professor of Civil Engineering Halil Ceylan and a team of researchers recently tested app-controlled slabs of electrically heated concrete at the Des Moines International Airport, according to the university’s news service. The slabs—which measure 15 feet by 13.5 feet each and are made of an amalgam of carbon fiber, cement mix, sand, and rocks—were able to melt off one to two inches of snow and ice in about seven hours, simply by engaging them on the app.

“We have proven this technology does work,” Ceylan told the news service. “Our goal is to keep airports open, safe and accessible. We don’t want any slips or falls, or any aircraft skidding off runways. Our technologies can contribute to providing a safe environment and fewer delays.”

At present, the slabs require about 333 watts of electricity per square meter, so in terms of cost, that runs about $0.19 per square meter. While installation could potentially get pricey, what’s clear is just how much time and money the concrete could save travelers.

Testing is still underway, and it’s unclear when the technology will be brought to market.

Read the full Iowa State University report here.

For a short look at how the concrete’s produced, watch the video below.


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