Transportation systems that put cars front and centre cause a lot of damage, we know this. But aspects of our cultural approach to getting around like, the reliance on road salt, are easily ignored. Every winter in North America we dump an unfathomable amount of salt on our roads which subsequently kills off wildlife. The costs of using road salt are high.
Cities are waking up to the damage years of salting their roads have done not only to local ecosystems but also to their budgets. Using road salt isn’t cheap and now cities are looking to alternatives, or at the very least, strategies to reduce the amount of salt they put on roads.
Area officials found that, pound for pound, brine was far more efficient than traditional rock salt. They could protect a lane-mile of road with a solution containing under 100 pounds of salt, roughly one third the amount used by rock-salt trucks.
Last, the towns switched to live-edge plows, which have flexible blades made up of multiple, independently moving sections mounted on springs. These state-of-the-art blades are more thorough than conventional ones. And starting with brine makes the plows even more efficient, says Eric Siy, executive director of The FUND for Lake George. If live-edge snowplows are like razors that hug the curves, brine is like shaving cream.
France has announced that they are going to try a mass installation of solar-panelled roads to provide electricity. It’s an attempt to see if they technology can be scalable and durable enough to survive under so much wear and tear. These solar roads aren’t made by the company that turned to crowdfunding a few years ago. Hopefully this test run of solar roadways will prove that it’s feasible.
The French government has just announced that it will pave 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of road with durable, photovoltaic panels, which will provide solar energy to 5 million people across the republic, according to Global Construction Review.
This will be the very first time solar panels will be installed on public roads to this extent, and it will aim to supply renewable energy to eight percent of France’s total population.
Barcelona is going to build a road bridge which may be the cleanest bridge yet. Of course it’ll have pedestrian walks and bike paths, however, what makes the bridge really noteworthy is that it will clean the air.
Concrete is notoriously energy-intensive to create so any carbon offset is beneficial. The Barcelona bridge will make use of photocatalytic concrete.
But the real prize of this thing is its basic building material, photocatalytic concrete. The principal of photocatylitics is that ultraviolet light naturally breaks down dirt, both natural and synthetic. It’s that old adage about sunlight being the best disinfectant. Photocatalytic concrete is used with titanium dioxide, which helps accelerate the natural UV-breakdown process, turning the pollution into carbon dioxide, and oxygen and substances that actually belong in the atmosphere.
The actual process has to do with semiconductors and electrons and other things that you may or may not care to read about. (At any rate, the Concrete Society of the United Kingdom does a better job of explaining it.)
An air-cleaning bridge makes for a neat news story and a sci-fi-ish novelty that environmentalists can blog about. But the important point is that Barcelona has taken a piece of infrastructure that exists solely to accommodate car culture, and re-invented it to partially offset the effects of car pollution.
There are six days left for the Indiegog campaign for Solar Roadways and they have already met their goal! The $1,000,000 goal has been reached and passed – which is quite impressive! The idea behind the successful campaign is to turn roads from heat-producing to energy-producing. A network of roads equipped with solar panels can revolutionize energy networks.
Solar Roadways is a modular paving system of solar panels that can withstand the heaviest of trucks (250,000 pounds). These Solar Road Panels can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, playgrounds… literally any surface under the sun. They pay for themselves primarily through the generation of electricity, which can power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots. A nationwide system could produce more clean renewable energy than a country uses as a whole.
The traditional approach to deicing roads is to cover the roads (and thus the ground around the road) in salt – which is absolutely awful for the environment. Because so many people drive cars the demand for road salt is high and has come to negatively impact local economies and environments.
There is a solution to make salting less damaging and it’s already being used in some communities.
Beets are usually just used to create sugar or, like at Schrute Farms, beet soup. In Ontario roadworks departments have been using a byproduct from beet sugar processing to clear ice off of roads. They mix the beet byproduct with salt to create a new brine that works better and harms less.
Niagara Region has used the mixture for about three years, resulting in a 30 per cent reduction in road salt which damages tender fruit trees and vines, said Dave MacLeod, the region’s manager of transportation operations and technology.
The Ontario transportation ministry is working with Oakville and Grey County to test the effectiveness of other beet juice-based products that are added to brine, said a ministry spokesman.
“The ministry’s objective is to provide safe highways for all travellers by using the best available technology. At the same time, we recognize our responsibility to protect the environment, so we use technology to help us determine the best way to clear our highways in the most environmentally friendly, cost-effective way,” he said.