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Real-time reaction, autonomous and energy-efficient snowmelt technology for lightly and heavily trafficked pavement surfaces.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Snowless (Real-time reaction, autonomous and energy-efficient snowmelt technology for lightly and heavily trafficked pavement surfaces.)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2020-08-31

Due to the reduction of skid resistance of pavement surfaces caused by snow and ice, severe economic losses and injuries related to transport are provoked. Winter conditions on roads cause traffic delays that cost 1% of EU GDP and 1,000 causalities annually. Similarly, snow fall causes air traffic disturbance that can cost €57.3M per storm. For pedestrians it a major health issue as an increase of 25% increase in hospitalization and 33% rise in cases of hip fractures is observed during winter season. Current solutions suffer from many shortcomings. The most popular, plowing and salting, is manual, has low response times, damages traffic surfaces, vehicle corrosion and environment pollution.
So, effective ice prevention is of main importance. The SNOWLESS project, an instant de-icing, energy efficient solution, overcomes those drawbacks using our proprietary amorphous alloy heating ribbons that are embedded in pavements and completely automatic control unit with real-time dynamic response, which convert electrical energy into direct radiant heat energy for melting snow on the surface.
Our solution is environmentally friendly, prevents asphalt cracking by reducing the temperature amplitude and promotes self-healing in the asphalt itself.
We intend commercialize SNOWLESS 3 years after development, ideally by 2021 in 2 phases, with initial introduction to shopping malls parking, which have less stringent requirements and then progress to difficult applications such airports and road infrastructure. We anticipate a revenue and profit of €50M and €15M respectively coming from sales over 5 years, creating 21 employment opportunities in the process.
So far the following was performed: (i) development of first generation mathematical models to account for heat requirements based prevailing weather conditions, (ii) development of a computational framework for modelling ribbons in an asphalt pavement structure, (iii) mechanical testing of ribbons, (iv) construction and testing of a grooving machine prototype, (v) planning and design of new ribbon coating and connectors; (vi) planning and design of new control software and hardware; and (vii) construction and testing of new control unit prototype.
In the period October 2019 to August 2020 the consortium installed Pilot sites: Ramp Woerden, DTU Denmark, ASML Docking stations (handover planned November 2020) and a ramp at Grotius The Hague (handover planned for Summer 2021). The main objective of this installations is an in-depth analysis of data and how the system acts and performs along with constructability validation and experience. The pilot installations integrate all SNOWLESS solution features as were developed and finalized in the first period, including grooving capabilities, adapted ribbons with new coating and connectors alongside full modularization algorithm control unit and software (D3_2). Due to the lack of wintery circumstances (2019-2020) in the Netherlands, no experience of the ramp Woerden is collected.
This also for the installation at Brandenburg. No deep investigations have been executed.
From scaling-up point of view HSI and SAN have scaled up their production facilities and adapted the production processes. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 it is a struggle to discuss Snowless opportunities in the Nordics or China/ Canada/ US. Also, the Intertraffic exhibition has been postponed to 2021. So, from that perspective as soon as the pandemic eases, we will disseminate our solutions in a more effective manner.
Snowless is ready for commercializing. A brochure is ready, the website is launched (www.snowlessroads.com) and the solutions are ready.
Snow and ice can cause severe traffic disturbances resulting in enormous economic losses and fatal or serious injuries. It is a common problem to which there is no efficient solution. Snowless overcome all the shortcomings: it consumes 30-60% less energy compared to current systems, while enabling 300% faster response time. All these benefits are packaged in one green solution at very low initial investment and annual costs much lower than alternative solutions for the same conditions. It becomes operational within 15 minutes to melt snow before it can accumulate thanks to our real-time control system and high heat transfer rates of the amorphous alloy, eliminating delays. Current installation costs will be reduced around 30%. Extra redundancy will be developed to increase ribbon lifetime and bring maintenance cost to zero. SNOWLESS has 3 times lower heat loss, and it is designed to be powered by electricity thus making it compatible with renewable energy sources. Our system has already achieved low annual operational costs of €1.6/m2 for implementations in Canada.
It is expected that the project will terminate with a practical method for installing heating ribbons in asphalt pavements over wide areas, in a smart control unit that can operate the ribbons efficiently, and ultimately in a cost effective and validated solution for facility owners that can replace traditional salting and mechanical snow clearing operations. These advances are over and above the current state of the practice; they will be driven by scientific understanding of the problem from both thermal and mechanical facets and will generate new journal and conference articles as well as a PhD graduate.
Heating system attached to iron mesh. Grotius The Hague
ASML Docking stations. Ribbons attached to iron mesh and integrated in concrete
Grooving machine in Woerden: also grooving in curves
DTU Pilot installation: paving & thermal images of asphalt with system operating
Steady-state temperature field for five horizontally oriented ribbons
An asphalt road with near-surface heating ribbons