Montana Department of Transportation

Main Content

Research

A Feasibility Study of Road Culvert Bridge Deck Deicing Using Geothermal Energy

view of icy bridge image

Adverse winter weather conditions have a significant impact on the safety, operation and maintenance of transportation infrastructure. Snow accumulation on roads and bridges reduces their capacity, decreases safety and increases travel delays. Ice accumulation in and around culverts may adversely affect fish movement and causes flooding and extensive economic losses. Ice accumulation can also lead to propagation of the freezing front into the soil around the culvert and increase the risk of frost heave in the frost-susceptible subsoil in road sections adjacent to the culvert. Therefore, deicing bridge decks and culverts is a major maintenance concern in areas with extreme cold weather. Reduction of ice and snow on bridges also leads to safer roadways and enhanced winter traffic mobility. The proposed research project will investigate the feasibility of using a ground-coupled system that utilizes heat energy harvested from the ground as an alternative for deicing bridges and culverts. The ground-coupled system relies on the circulation of water through pipes placed underground (either vertically or horizontally) to utilize the natural heat retained by the earth.

For more information, contact , 920-771-0092.