1. Welcome to PlowSite. Notice a fresh look and new features? It’s now easier to share photos and videos, find popular topics fast, and enjoy expanded user profiles. If you have any questions, click HELP at the top or bottom of any page, or send an email to help@plowsite.com. We welcome your feedback.

    Dismiss Notice

WSJ Blog Post on Radiant Heated Runways

Discussion in 'Ice Management' started by KAM2009, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. KAM2009

    KAM2009 Junior Member
    from 46660
    Messages: 27

  2. 90plow

    90plow Senior Member
    Messages: 739

    No way. Great Idea in theory but when it's 2 degrees and wind chills are -15 how do you keep ground temps above freezing or above 40 degrees realistically to keep snow from sticking. And if one airport has it and the other doesn't it doesn't help also in a blizzard the planes ice up and they can't take off. Just another wing nut idea. I really like the end of the article where they interview the guy with a 7,000 sqft driveway "they could use this at train stations and bus terminals" looney toon. He said it cost $800 for 24 hrs. I could give him two shovelers for 24 hours and it would still cost less. CI do see them around here once in a while but they don't seem to work all that well when it's coming down 2" an hour.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  3. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,238

    Curious, what does wind chill have to do with pavement temps?

    And once it's at 40*, or whatever, it's maintained at 40*. Sort of like your house.

    This is not unrealistic, there are numerous sidewalks around the country (world?) that have heated sidewalks that don't need shoveling\plowing\salting. This is just on a huge scale comparatively. I service a couple accounts that have these. It works. Even with -10* actual air temps.
  4. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    Drive thru downtown Holland Michigan during any type of snowfall and say it doesn't work. 2" and hour lake effect looks bad ass downtown with the trees covered but the streets and walks just wet.

    Heat a 12" or whatever it is runway up to 40 degrees and I'd think that mass would hold some heat pretty good...
  5. KAM2009

    KAM2009 Junior Member
    from 46660
    Messages: 27

    Interesting responses so far.

    "When does it become cost effective when you factor in all that lost revenue" is an important takeaway.

    Regarding the example of a working system:
    • automatic snow management for $800 for 24 hours ($33.33/hour)
    • the entire area is probably cleared simultaneously
    • a completely dry—and therefore safe—pavement/sidewalk for a healthcare facility at upstate New York utility rates
    • no chemical residues impacting landscaping or the environment
    • no piles of snow for patients and employees to navigate
    • no queuing, scheduling or logistics

    It's probably worth it for the convenience and the litigation mitigation.
  6. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,238

    For some reason I am never able to make it there during a storm, but that is one of the areas I was thinking of.

    EGR has heated walks in Gaslight Village.

    Seems like Monroe Plaza or something had heated walks\drives too.

    Vail or some ski resort in CO did it as well. I remember seeing the story here on PS.
  7. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    Image the greenhouse gas emmision or BTU's required to heat Ohare's runways, or imagine the equipment, material and labor cost to keep them clear - way above me.

    I knew a guy that used to have a shop in downtown Holland, not on 8th where the whole deal is heated but 9th or on a corner where they just did the walks - I remember him saying he was surcharged by lineal feet of walk.

    Turn the heat off anyways - 50ton is 15 minutes away from my bin, a couple more nights of easy breathing.
  8. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,238

    You ought to see the equipment they have for clearing the areas around the terminals and gates, not even the runways. The emissions from just starting those up is amazing.

    I flew in there once when it was there. I swear they had every single brand and size loader, ag tractor, skid steer, pusher, and plow parked along every foot of fence around the entire airport. Strictly the gate areas, this was not O'Hares equipment for the runways and taxiways.
  9. KAM2009

    KAM2009 Junior Member
    from 46660
    Messages: 27

    A lot of energy no matter how it's done. The following is from two years ago

  10. 90plow

    90plow Senior Member
    Messages: 739

    Well being in the construction business even on a residential level using radiant heat in bathrooms and kitchens. You can't use 40 degree water to make something 40 degrees it's in the hundreds of degrees and when you take that number to the distances the pipes would be running it would be very hot water at the source to get the required temperature at the end. You would have to keep it on a long time before a storm to get the temperature to where it needs to be. If you turn it off and the pavement or ground below freezes it would take a long time to get that to temperature. Asphalt drives and concrete walks aren't 12" thick either so there's no comparison to little residential structures like that. There is initial cost, fuel, but also maintenance and repairs ie pipe bursts, pump failures, etc. that would also come with it as well as a shorter lifetime on the pavement from constant freeze thaw. Same can be said for salt and plowing but there aren't water pipes below a normal surface to worry about when you have a pothole repair. I think it's a great idea but not on that scale not yet at least. And the figure $33 per hour is one storm no maintenance or initial upfront or replacement costs.
  11. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,238

    #1 Runways are at least 18" thick. And have far more base that is relatively unaffected by freeze\thaw cycles since planes weighing hundreds of thousands of pounds are landing on them. The base is compacted to the point hammer drills are needed to "pound" in the stakes needed for pouring concrete.

    #2 Obviously you have no idea how these systems work. They get turned on in the fall and shut off in the spring. They do not work on a thermostat, which is why I said once they hit 40*, they stay at 40*. So you don't need near the heat that you are thinking. Relay heaters and pumps, sure. But it isn't like steam is being pumped through these systems.

    3# The systems at the locations I maintain are very reliable. Yes, a pump might go out. Or they might not be turned on in the fall, but one is over 15 years old without a torn up sidewalk or driveway to fix a leak. Sure, it would take some engineering. But it is not nearly as unreasonable as you think.

    PS Potholes on a runway? Sure, whatever.
  12. 90plow

    90plow Senior Member
    Messages: 739

    Ok again I doubt you can compare this to a sidewalk or driveway.... Not saying impossible saying its impractical and I said in the future maybe now not cost effective. And I said 12" because I have no idea how thick they really are. And yes I'm sure they still get cracks potholes/sink holes in runways it's still pavement is it not?
  13. framer1901

    framer1901 Senior Member
    Messages: 852

    Isn't that really one of the great ideas of heating a garage or house floor slab, how the mass of the slab retains the heat?

    Oh the math involved in comparing the costs of a heated Ohare verses one maintained by 230 pieces of equipment. Hell, the costs of the pencils alone figuring it out would feed 100 children for a year.

    I'd just like to be the guy driving the 30mph 7500ton per hour snowblower.

    In all seriousness, we have a few paver drives in our area that I see are heated, downtown is heated - what you can see close up looks just like or better than any other road. Yes, I've see them tear up a walk in town every now and then where there was some problem with the system. Even with any system, an airport would have to have some type of backup to cover a system failure, could you imagine Ohare rousting 500 capable people out of bed and finding 230 pieces for them to operate, shoot, I can't get shovelers on a consistant basis.

    We service three homes that are multi millon dollar deals and have driveways that would challange billy goats - I always wondered why they didn't heat them from day one.
  14. Mark Oomkes

    Mark Oomkes PlowSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,238

    Well, if you eliminate the freeze\thaw cycles which cause most potholes.

    And I can't even imagine the liability for a sinkhole in a runway. Pretty sure they are engineered a bit better than that. 300+ people in a 100,000# plus airplane landing at 160 knots. Pretty sure there aren't sinkholes in runways.
  15. KAM2009

    KAM2009 Junior Member
    from 46660
    Messages: 27

    Calculations of costs for electrical rates for a driveway from another thread (New England rather than Michigan rates used) are below. Airports may get special "weather event" rates if the costs of not moving passengers outweigh the costs of clear runways.

    For states from Maryland to Maine
    snow and ice melting using electric radiant heating
    annual operating + investment (install labor and concrete sold separately) costs of a 1000 sq ft drive
    for five (5) snow events PER YEAR can be
    as low as $ 217.22 per season or
    as high as $ 571.87 per season

    Compare those numbers to a typical 4-month plowing contract for a 1000 sq ft drive in your area.

    Given the following inputs, anyone can do the general math, but I provide it below (and feel free to check mine):

    — $0.10 to $0.1755 from MD to ME (2010 latest data, accessed June 2013)
    — 1000 sq ft, which for the math in this example I configured to 50 x 20’

    If we choose retail availability from a noted vendor like MOR Electric Heating, http://tinyurl.com/m5sjp9k ,
    for a 50 x19.5’
    (closest mat coverage,
    two 15’ long mats and one 20’ long mat (50’ total)
    by six 36” wide mats and one 18” wide mat (19.5’ total),
    which may be more than is actually needed)
    operating at the optimal 50 watts/sq ft:

    975 sq ft x 50W/ft ÷ 1000 to convert = 48.75 kW required for operation

    So, operation cost per kWH for northeast US is between $4.875 and $8.56 for the driveway;
    per snow event, 3-10 hours of operation (melting snow and leaving a dry surface) using sensors and controllers can be
    as low as $14.63 and as high as $85.56;
    five (5) events a year, operating costs are
    as lows as $ 73.13/year and as high as $427.78/year

    The upfront costs (retail), per the MOR website (accessed June 2013):

    Easy Heat mats, amortized over 4-month season and 20 years (many systems are older than this):
    lowest = [(2) $315 + (1) $375] x 6 + [(2) $210 + (1) $250]
    = $6700 total investment; x 4mo/12mo/20years
    Total LOW investment = $ 111.67/yr
    or highest = [(2) $410 + (1) 470] x 6 + [(2) $271 + (1) $ 310]
    Total HIGH investment = $8592; x 4mo/12mo/20years
    = $ 143.20/yr

    Environmental Technology Inc. sensors and controller
    SIT-6E Pavement Mounted Snow & Ice Sensor, $980
    CIT-1 Aerial Snow Sensor, $425
    ETI Snow Switch® Model GF Pro controller, $540
    Total investment =$ 1945; amortized as above (x 4mo/12mo/20years)
    = $ 32.42/yr

    Certainly this has been an exceptional winter, as far as the number of weather events impacting airports (so much so the WSJ blogged about it, right?). Even the healthcare facility example of operating for 24 hours seems beyond a typical "event."
  16. KAM2009

    KAM2009 Junior Member
    from 46660
    Messages: 27

    NYT weighs in on radiant for snow management


    "As if by magic, snowflakes melted as they touched the ground in front of these upscale addresses, releasing a faint vapor that hung momentarily in the bitter cold before vanishing altogether, thanks to what is turning out to be the ultimate amenity in an unrelenting winter: heated sidewalks.

    "[A]cross the street, at 530 West End Avenue, the sidewalk was equally clean, but the doorman and superintendent were nursing sore backs from shoveling. ‘It’s 11 a.m. and we are already tired,’ said the doorman, Orlando Caraballosa. ‘We wish we had it.’ ”
  17. F250/XLS

    F250/XLS Senior Member
    from Canada
    Messages: 144

    We have a contractor who's driveway is built with
    Thé under layer hot water tubing wich You can run
    In What ever lenght You need except that
    Every so many linear feet You must hook
    Back to thé system and run another Line .
    Indoor i made One in m'y buddy's bassement
    Ten years ago but it seems that even out door
    Ounce temp is reached it stays .... Nô pavement or cement censors , all in thé indoor unit reading return water temp .....Anyhow
    Nô mater thé storm he never shovels ..
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014
  18. F250/XLS

    F250/XLS Senior Member
    from Canada
    Messages: 144

    Oh ya !!!! Airport runways ???? That seems
    A little out of wack for any kind of décent
    System ..... The coverage needed ,,,, wow,,,
  19. NAC

    NAC Senior Member
    Messages: 104

    Heated driveway

    One of my customers home which I built has heated driveway, sidewalks and his back yard patio is heated. We installed 6" of DGA sub base then an insulating layer then the pex pipe was installed in the 1" screed layer for the the pavers in the driveway and sidewalk. in the back yard patio it was an 5'-7' flagstone that was set on 6" DGA sub base then an insulating layer, 4" concrete mat with the pex pipe then the 1" mortar bed for the flagstone.
  20. KAM2009

    KAM2009 Junior Member
    from 46660
    Messages: 27

    How interesting!

    Wouldn't you or your customer consider this an aspect of snow/ice management?

    How large is the driveway, in square feet, do you happen to know? Do you happen to know what controllers and/or sensors are being used?

    Last edited: Dec 9, 2014