Cost comparison of alternative airfield snow removal methodologies
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Maintaining operational safety and status of airport runways during snowfall events is a challenging issue that many airports are grappling with. Ice and snow impacts on transportation infrastructure systems add significant costs to the American economy in the form of snow removal, damaged pavement and lost productivity due to travel delays. Most transport category aircraft are prohibited from operating on runways covered by untreated ice or by more than ½ inch of snow or slush. Hence, it is imperative that both small and large airports maintain operational status during snowfall events to support the existing operations. Conventional ice and snow removal practices are labor intensive and have environmental concerns such as possible contamination of nearby water bodies for highway and airport pavements. This preliminary study aims at identifying and establishing cost parameters for an ongoing research project on energy and economic analyses of alternative ice and snow removal strategies. One such alternative approach is the use of a heated pavement system using either conventional or renewable energy as a heat source, to keep the surface temperature of concrete pavements above freezing so that any frozen precipitation melts upon contact. Based on the limited data available, the costs incurred due to melting snow by hydronic heated pavements were calculated and compared with the operating costs of conventional snow removal strategies under specific case scenarios. A case study is carried out using limited data from Des Moines International (DSM) airport in Iowa to demonstrate the methodology.