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Winter sun to heat iced roads

MATERIALS Cutting Edge

ROAD network operator, the Highways Agency, is to trial new technology for keeping roads clear of snow and ice.

A section of road is under construction alongside the M1 in Bedfordshire, which will use solar energy to help prevent the build-up during the winter.

The trial section, being built at the Toddington service area in Bedfordshire by main contractor Carillion, will use technology developed by Londonbased sustainable energy firm Icax that can also be used to store solar energy for use in heating and cooling buildings.

If trials prove successful the system could eventually be used on motorways, helping to cut congestion and improve safety.

Its Inter-seasonal Heat Transfer system uses buried energy reservoirs and hidden heat pumps to convert solar energy collected via the road surface into useable power.

The energy can then be stored and used to heat the surface in an effort to prevent the build-up of ice and snow in cold weather.

The trial will use two methods to collect and store the energy during the two-year trial period and will demonstrate how the stored energy could be used to heat buildings adjacent to the road.

A similar system is due to be used at a new primary school in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, due to open in 2006.

Icax's IHT system will be installed underneath the playground and is expected to become the primary energy source for the school.