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Scientists are looking at the technology and economic benefit of geothermic piles to heat concrete and defrost roads

Research is being carried out on “heated concrete” that could reduce the recent problems caused by snow and ice on Scotland’s roads.

The benefits of geothermic piles, which are used to heat and power large buildings through plumbed underground pipes, is being studied by scientists at the University of Dundee.

Heated concrete is already used abroad

A similar scheme is said to be used in Holland and the US to heat bridge surfaces and pavements, and Transport Scotland is supporting the university team in examining the technology required and its economic benefits.

Transport Scotland said it could also help stabilise roadside slopes and reduce the risk of landslips.

snow covered cars but no heated concrete yet

Hundreds of motorists were stuck overnight on the M80 between Glasgow and Stirling last week as jack-knifed lorries and heavy snow combined to block the road.

Could heated concrete prevent motorists been stuck for hours on end?

Motorists reported being stuck for more than 17 hours with some spending the night in their cars and others abandoning their vehicles on the motorway. It wasn’t just in Scotland of course. The Beast from the East caused chaos across the country with motorists trapped for hours on major roads including the M62 and A30.

A Transport Scotland spokeswoman said: “We are currently supporting research by the University of Dundee into the potential application of geothermal piles to help stabilise slopes near roads that would reduce the risk of landslips and consequential road closures, and also the transfer of heat to carriageways that would help mitigate the impact of snow and ice on the road surface.

“Work is in its early stages but will identify the technology requirements, the economic benefits, and any limitations.”

The snow might only affect us for a few days every decade or so but heated concrete does seem an elegant solution to a problem which always seems to take us by surprise.

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  1. We have a heated flyover in tyneside put in donkeys years ago used for one winter. No one had considered that it would cost a fortune to run

  2. Perhaps we could do away with rear wheel drive cars as most of the ones I see stuck are RWD.

  3. Perhaps diverting the exhaust fumes from cars down, into the road, could help melting the snow as car move along over it. A temporary measure and only when required. Seems like an energy waste if not used.

  4. “Perhaps we could do away with rear wheel drive cars as most of the ones I see stuck are RWD.”

    That’s hardly a solution…. I drive a RWD car and was in Leeds/York Yet I had no real trouble getting around. The problem lies in the fact that we as a nation do not experience this kind of weather regularly enough to be adequately prepared. It’s an old story.

    What further compounds this however, is the sheer lack of common sense. Simply put, if you have never driven in such conditions before and are somewhat unsure of both your driving skills and the vehicle you are driving then don’t drive.

    I get that many were simply caught short and their plight could not be avoided but many motorists carried on with their “ah it’ll be ok” attitude. I’ll also bet that 90% (completely made up number) of motorists have summer tires on their vehicles too.

  5. I would guess that most roads in the UK are actually tarmac, not concrete, so would this still work if the road isn’t concrete….or have they made a mistake with the wording?


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