Eastern Maine Community College students L-R Ryan Beaulieu, Garrett Sharette and Chad Mills push their friend Matt Barnett's car out of the snowy driveway of their apartment building in Brewer, April 2007. Credit: Gabor Degre / BDN

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Winter approaches and again the pages of the Bangor Daily News include articles of nasty crashes in icy conditions. Removal of road surface ice is a pesky problem, attacked today with copious amounts of road salt. Yet the issue with road salt is that the brine seeps into cracks in the bridge deck, attacking and corroding the rebar in the concrete. As that steel rebar rusts, the material expands, cracking the concrete itself and destroying the bridge.

One approach to this is to remove the ice without using salt. My approach is to use the heat from a used jet turbine, set at idle, with the exhaust directed forward and downward in a fan shape angular to the road deck. The heat and blast work underneath the ice sheets, lifting and blowing them away. In tests, a single pass removes everything and leaves behind a clean, dry road surface.

The entire assembly mounts on a truck chassis and is driven to the iced bridge, where it works its magic. The disadvantage is that the machine operates slowly over the bridge deck. The advantage is that it takes one pass and the road is dry. The big benefit is that you no longer have to rebuild bridges at huge expense, and of course, less road salt to rot your car body. I foresee an entirely new industry for made in Maine ice removal trucks.

Jan van Eck

Tenants Harbor