A sensor detects salt on the road to avoid excess

Jan 29, 2014
Measuring salt on road surfaces helps not to spread an excessive quantity. Credit: Alvac S.A.

Engineers at Carlos III University in Madrid, Spain, have designed an optical sensor that detects how much salt is on road surfaces in real time. This avoids the need to spread the substance excessively, because although this prevents ice from forming on roads, it can also harm vehicles, infrastructure and the environment.

It is common to spread salt on roads to prevent ice and the hazards it can entail for traffic. This is based on weather forecasts, but does not take into account that the road can already have enough salt, scattered during previous frost and snowfall.

"This overacting can have various repercussions, both financial - as too much product is wasted - and environmental - as damages vegetation and contaminates aquifers - as well as having corrosive effects on vehicles and infrastructure," explains Marta Ruiz-Llata, a lecturer in the Department of Electronic Technology at Carlos III University in Madrid.

The team of which the researcher is a member has developed the first to monitor the amount of residual salt on the dry road surface, "which is of great interest for preventive action, since we can avoid adding excessive salt."

The sensor is capable of measuring the luminescent properties of sodium chloride (its range and decay time), which enables concentrations of salt lower than 20 g/m2 - the quantity it is recommended not to exceed - to be detected.

"Furthermore, the device acts remotely and its compact design makes for easy installation in any road maintenance vehicle," Ruiz-Llata affirms. The details are published in the journal Sensors and Actuators B.

This research is driven by Alvac S.A., a pioneering company in comprehensive road preservation. The sensor is planned to be part of a future system for monitoring road parameters currently being developed by the team.

Explore further: Team develops faster, higher quality 3-D camera

More information: Marta Ruiz-Llata, Pedro Martín-Mateos, José R. López, Pablo Acedo. "Remote optical sensor for real-time residual salt monitoring on road surfaces". Sensors and Actuators B 191: 371- 376, 2014. Doi: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.snb.2013.10.009.

Related Stories

Searching for the perfect road salt

Jan 10, 2014

Each winter, Norway spends NOK 1.6 billion keeping its roads fit for use. Researchers have many reasons for wanting to get costs down.

The flip side of salting winter roads

Nov 05, 2012

Swedish scientists have studied models to help road and bridge maintenance engineers work out how much damage salting the roads in winter might cause to steel-reinforced concrete structures.

Recommended for you

Team develops faster, higher quality 3-D camera

4 hours ago

When Microsoft released the Kinect for Xbox in November 2010, it transformed the video game industry. The most inexpensive 3-D camera to date, the Kinect bypassed the need for joysticks and controllers by ...

Researchers finding applications for tough spinel ceramic

14 hours ago

Imagine a glass window that's tough like armor, a camera lens that doesn't get scratched in a sand storm, or a smart phone that doesn't break when dropped. Except it's not glass, it's a special ceramic called ...

Classroom acoustics for architects

Apr 23, 2015

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) has published a free online booklet for architects to aid in the application of ANSI/ASA S12.60-2010/Part 1-American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, ...

JRC wins competition on indoor localization

Apr 23, 2015

A team of JRC researchers outperformed 27 teams from academia and industry across the globe and achieved best overall result at a competition on indoor localisation in Seattle, USA. Providing accurate position ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.