Magazine article ASEE Prism

Warm Roads and Hearths

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Warm Roads and Hearths

Article excerpt

HOT TAR ROADS may burn your feet, but a Dutch civil engineering firm has figured out how to capture and store that heat, then put it to use. Noting how well asphalt absorbs solar heat, Ooms Avenhorn Holding devised an asphalt for paving roads and parking lots that is embedded with a network of water pipes. After the asphalt heats the water to 68 degrees, it's piped into underground reservoirs. Come winter, the warm water is returned to the pipes, heating the road surface.

That means that much less salt is needed to keep roads ice-free. Less salt means less maintenance and longer-lasting roads that are not sodium-corroded. Once Ooms Avenhorn realized that it was collecting more energy than needed to keep the roadbeds toasty, it developed a second system to pipe the water to nearby buildings to warm them, as well. The asphalt-heated water needs help from an electric heat pump to heat the buildings, and the cost to install the waterworks is double that of a conventional gas heat system. …

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