Abstract

This work examined the performance of self-heating concrete under laboratory thermal conditions and outdoor real-time conditions during the fall and winter seasons. Snow-melting and freeze–thaw performance of low-temperature phase change materials (PCM) incorporated self-heating concrete slabs in various scales were evaluated. PCM exhibited high enthalpy of fusion (ΔHf170180  J/g), long-term thermal stability, and desirable supercooling. The experimental program included (1) optimization of concrete mix designs for maximum PCM incorporation, (2) characterization of thermal properties of PCM-mortar specimens using longitudinal guarded comparative calorimetry (LGCC), and (3) large-scale PCM concrete slabs in outdoor conditions to evaluate the real-time thermal performance against freeze–thaw events and snow-melting efficiency. Two different approaches were used to incorporate PCM in concrete: (1) submersion of liquid PCM in porous lightweight aggregates (PCM-LWA); and (2) microencapsulated PCM (MPCM). Both PCM-LWA and MPCM concrete not only exhibited promising snow-melting capabilities but also lowered the number of freeze–thaw cycles during cold seasons. PCM-LWA concrete performed better in decreasing the number of freeze–thaw (F-T) cycles due to the undercooling phenomenon created by the LWA pore network confinement pressure, allowing gradual latent heat release; the undercooling phenomenon in PCM-LWA results in phase transformation in a wider low-temperature range (i.e., 3.94°C to 13.04°C). Therefore, the PCM-LWA concrete was effective in melting snow within a wider range of low temperatures. MPCM concrete was found to provide a rapid melting capability during a snowfall event due to its “one-shot” heat release phenomenon. Both LWA-PCM and MPCM concrete slabs demonstrated promising heat response and snow-melting capability.

Practical Applications

Snowfall and freeze–thaw cycles occur frequently during winter seasons in North American regions with cold climate, resulting in snow accumulation on concrete roads and flatworks as well as concrete freeze–thaw damage. In this paper, a “self-heating” concrete was developed via incorporation of low-temperature phase change material (PCM), and its promising snow removal and freeze–thaw improvements were validated. The self-heating concrete can be used to construct pavements, driveways, bridge decks, and any other types of flatworks. When the ambient temperature falls to 0°C, PCM will release desirable amounts of heat energy (ΔHf=170180  J per g of PCM added) by changing its phase from liquid to solid. As a result, the accumulated snow and ice melts at a gradual pace. In addition, heat release from the incorporated PCM lowers the number of freeze–thaw cycles, improving freeze–thaw performance of concrete made elements in cold regions, which in turn improves concrete durability and service life by minimizing the susceptibility to freeze–thaw scaling and spalling.

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Data Availability Statement

All data, models, and code generated or used during the study appear in the published article.

Acknowledgments

The authors acknowledge the financial support from Compass Minerals, United States. The authors would also like to extend their appreciation to MicroTek Laboratories for providing the materials for research purposes. Any findings, opinions, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of other affiliations. The experiments reported in this paper were conducted in the Advanced Infrastructure Materials (AIM) Lab at Drexel University. The authors acknowledge the support that has made this laboratory and its operation possible.

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Go to Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering
Journal of Materials in Civil Engineering
Volume 36Issue 6June 2024

History

Received: May 30, 2023
Accepted: Nov 1, 2023
Published online: Mar 18, 2024
Published in print: Jun 1, 2024
Discussion open until: Aug 18, 2024

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Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104 (corresponding author). ORCID: https://orcid.org/0009-0008-7105-3368. Email: [email protected]
Nishant Shrestha [email protected]
Undergraduate Research Assistant, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Email: [email protected]
Undergraduate Research Assistant, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Email: [email protected]
Mohamed Cissao [email protected]
Undergraduate Research Assistant, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Email: [email protected]
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0854-3267. Email: [email protected]
Yousif Alqenai, S.M.ASCE [email protected]
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Email: [email protected]
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. ORCID: https://orcid.org/0009-0001-2923-1668. Email: [email protected]
Angela Mutua [email protected]
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Email: [email protected]
Yaghoob “Amir” Farnam, M.ASCE [email protected]
Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil, Architectural, and Environmental Engineering, Drexel Univ., 3141 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104. Email: [email protected]

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