A Feasibility Study of Bridge Deck Deicing using Geothermal Energy

In this study, the authors investigated the feasibility of a ground-coupled system that utilizes heat energy harvested from the ground for deicing of bridge decks. Heat exchange is performed using circulation loops integrated into the deep foundations supporting the bridge or embedded within the approach embankment. The warm fluid extracted from the ground is circulated through a tubing system embedded within reinforced concrete bridge deck to keep the deck temperature above the freezing point. A circulation pump that requires a minimal amount of power is used for fluid circulation. This is different from ground-source heat pump systems used for heating and cooling of buildings. In this study, a proof-of-concept testing is developed to investigate the operational principles and key design parameters. Experiments were performed on a model-scale instrumented bridge deck and model heat-exchanger piles to investigate heat transfer within different components of the ground-coupled bridge deck system. Heat transfer within ground and concrete bridge deck is quantified through numerical simulations under a variety of design and operational conditions. Experimental and numerical studies performed both at Penn State and Virginia Tech campuses demonstrate that this technology has a significant potential in reducing the use of salts and deicing chemicals. The knowledge and experience gained from this research will guide future research on real-life implementation of the proposed alternative bridge deck deicing method and will eventually help the concept to grow as a ready-to-use technology. Consequently, it will be possible to reduce bridge deck deterioration and offset the detrimental effects and environmental hazards caused by these chemicals.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This document was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Pennsylvania State University, University Park

    Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
    Research Office Building
    University Park, PA  United States  16802-4710

    Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg

    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    Blacksburg, VA  United States  24061

    Mid-Atlantic Universities Transportation Center

    Pennsylvania State University
    201 Transportation Research Building
    University Park, PA  United States  16802-4710

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Ghasemi-Fare, Omid
    • Bowers, G Allen
    • Kramer, Cory A
    • Ozudogru, Tolga Y
    • Basu, Prasenjit
    • Olgun, C Guney
    • Bulbul, Tanyel
    • Sutman, Melis
  • Publication Date: 2015-4-28


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 120p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01570326
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: MAUTC-2013-02
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT12-G-UTC03
  • Created Date: Jul 21 2015 9:37AM