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De-Icing Traffic Lights

Not the lights specifically, just the poles they're mounted on
  [vote for,

The idea is to run some special plumbing through those long overhead horizontal poles that traffic signals are mounted on above intersections, to spray liquid de-icer all over the intersection in winter, using various types of sensors depending on the city's budget to avoid spraying directly on vehicles.
21 Quest, Dec 10 2022

Iceland's method https://nea.is/geot...ation/snow-melting/
Lucky country has plenty of free geothermal energy [neutrinos_shadow, Dec 12 2022]


       [+] Seems like a great idea. Liquid deicers are very effective if applied right before it starts snowing.   

       Sone caveats, not enough to withhold the [-] but should note: Must start application right before it starts snowing. Not too soon before, and not during or after snowfall. Loses effectiveness during prolong snowfall. Rain can wash it away. Freezing rain + liquid deicer can actually makes a road surface MORE slippery.
a1, Dec 10 2022

       That's the great thing about doing it this way instead of relying entirely on deicer trucks. This way you can have one guy in an office flip a switch to get them all going city wide right before it's supposed to snow, or even have it automated set to come on when triggered by a snow alert from the Weather Channel site. Extended further, it could be applied to streetlamps along all the main roads and the de icer trucks can be devoted entirely to focusing on the highways and residential streets.
21 Quest, Dec 10 2022

       Agree. The only that’s that’s really concerning is that you DON’T want it applied before or during freezing rain. Snow vs freezing rain conditions can change within minutes, or over close distances - snow at Main 1st Ave, freezing rain a block away at 2nd Ave.   

       Can you detect a difference and have rock-salt spreaders also deployed along main routes, to be switched on as needed?
a1, Dec 10 2022

       Salt kills undercarriages. That's why folks from BC don't buy used vehicles from Alberta. We don't salt our roads.   

       A sand spreader, though a bit of a mess to clean up later, would be very effective at intersections and on steep hills.   

       // Salt kills undercarriages //   

       That’s why liquid deicers are good - they use a tiny fraction of salt compared to solid deicers. But different regions would have to pick their own best options - what works in Victoria or Seattle or Omaha would all be different.
a1, Dec 10 2022

       That's also why it's a good idea to find a decent car wash with a $30 monthly unlimited wash membership. I go through every afternoon when I'm done driving for the day. I love the idea of rock salt too, I can't see why that couldn't work.
21 Quest, Dec 11 2022

       Once the salt has dissolved it makes slush, the salt-water runs downhill and leaves black ice in its wake.
Having lived where both were used I would say that sand works better. Where we've got mountains we use sand and studded winter tires. Where it's flat they use all-season tires, salt, and they pray a lot.

       Ethylene glycol, an antifreeze, is fairly cheap, melts ice and snow and doesn't corrode undercarriages like salt. Plus when applied to an already slick roadway will make it even slicker resulting in an exciting ride for all. Alternately some of the corn in the midwestern states could be used to make cheap alcohol for the same purpose.
whatrock, Dec 11 2022

       It leads to the same result. Salt water melts and leaves black ice behind. Glycol has the same effect given extreme weather. Sand dispersal just provides traction. Period.   

       Grit, no matter the circumstance, is still grit.   

       I'll take studded tires in winter over any road treatment on any given day, but if I had to take summer tires over the mountains in a blizzard, (and I've done this extremely stupid thing once in my twenties... God I was stupid back then how the hell did I make it to thirty?), I would choose sand every time.   

       Only grit ensures traction, all other treatments are temporary and are subject to specific parameters and environmental change.   

       You spend more on clean up for grit yes, but the cost savings on human and mechanical insurance claims more than makes up for the initial outlay of infrastructure and maintenance.   

       Like, by a lot.   

       So modify the traffic light poles to dispense dry sand instead?   

       Some sort of warning would be in order, a countdown to allow motorists time to scurry out of range less their vehicles be sanded along with the roadway. I suggest the opening riff from Enter Sandman.
whatrock, Dec 11 2022

       //Ethylene glycol, an antifreeze, is fairly cheap// and also creates toxic puddles of sweet liquid beverage which kill animals who drink it. Pools of windshield washer fluid in the driveway have killed more neighbourhood cats than [8th of7] could've shaken a stick at. Also dogs. And deer.
Sgt Teacup, Dec 11 2022

       ///Ethylene glycol //   

       Cheap and toxic, yep. The best liquid deicer for pre-application is still dilute salt water. Even though people who drive in salty climes (near sea coasts or where ANY kind of salt is on roads) have to clean and maintain their vehicles properly.
a1, Dec 11 2022

       [neutrinos_shadow], great link about Iceland. They’re lucky to have such easily available geothermal, even if Eyjafjallajökull and her friends sometime disrupt traffic. Still, I’m sure a lot of places I can think of in the USA - and many I don’t know of worldwide - that could follow their lead.   

       It’s times like this that I really miss [8th]. He took such glee in things that could be useful even though they might explode without warning. We had many a lively discussions of volcanoes near me that I could worry about.
a1, Dec 12 2022

       I thought about the heated road thing, but installation is extremely expensive up front and difficult to secure government funding for, even at a local level. The beauty of this system is it can be implemented entirely above-ground, likely with only slight modifications to existing light posts (drill a few holes, shove some PVC tubes through the hollow steel, glue on some nozzles) and some pressurized above-ground tanks that can be refilled any time.
21 Quest, Dec 12 2022

       Geothermal energy can be amortized over hundreds of years, making it pretty cheap. Your idea is more politically sound though, because multi-century infrastructure projects are a tough sell.
a1, Dec 12 2022

       Infrastructures collapse.   

       Grit is grit.   

       You'll see.   

       Is that any different than hydroelectric?
21 Quest, Dec 12 2022

       Yes. Water has to flow somewhere. You can melt ice all you want but it has to go somewhere... as water.   

       So where's it gonna go?   



       No fucking where... which is why you pile it off to the side and cover your roads with grit because it just makes sense.   

       True story.   

       I meant, is hydroelectric different than geothermal in terms of long-term potential?
21 Quest, Dec 12 2022

       // is hydroelectric different than geothermal in terms of long-term potential //   

       By “long term” do you mean decades, centuries, millennia, aeons? I think geothermal definitely wins in the longest scale, and in near term even seasonal variations are massive planning burdens for hydropower operators.   

       Your profile mentions you live near Spokane, WA. And I know hydropower provides about 60% of the electricity in the US Pacific Northwest - that’s 90% of the “renewable” resources out your way.   

       But you got some nice volcanoes out there too - know of any geothermal installations?
a1, Dec 12 2022

       We have a particular intersection that historically has been causing pretty bad accidents since I was little. (I grew up in this God-forsaken town, so yeah, I saw them.)   

       I like this idea and have some customizing ideas for year-long safer intersection crossings.   

       Defrost them in Winter, then in Spring they should monitor the level of water around the crossing and notify someone if there is flooding going on, preventing cars from getting stuck.   

       Next, Summer. This is a good one. An ice-cold blast of air is forced into the car, cooling the tempers(bad attitudes) and the tempers (temperatures)of our little redneck friends so that they don't turn their road rage on.   

       Fall, use the Summer cold hose again, but turn it towards the street gutters and blow those piles of leaves up in the air so they don't clog up the only way the water has to run.
blissmiss, Dec 12 2022


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