Virginia Tech developing snow melting technology

BLACKSBURG, Va. - Virginia Tech students and professors are working on new technology that could melt the snow in your driveway or on your sidewalk faster.

It's called the Melt Mat. The man behind the idea, Associate Professor Jonathan Boreyko, says the science behind the technology is simple.

"When you have a pile of snow outside, you're bouncing about three-fourths of the sun's radiation off of it, back into the air," he explains. "So the Melt Mat is basically taking a black painted coating on a metal blanket, so when you wrap it around the snow, now the snow is highly absorptive, because the black absorbs radiation."

The Melt Mat doesn't use gasoline, chemicals or any kind of electricity to work. It takes the heat from the sun and magnifies it, heating up whatever is underneath the metal. It also melts the snow much faster.

"We're melting the snow three times faster than a bare snowbank would melt under the same sunny conditions," Boreyko adds. "Let's say you have a snowbank in the parking lot that takes three weeks to melt, now we can melt it in under a week. Which is still a substantial improvement for people like me trying to find parking in the middle of January."

Boryeko says he does have a patent for the Melt Mat and is talking to some companies about producing the metal sheet, but he doesn't want anyone to rush out to the stores. He says it will be a while before the Melt Mats will be produced and ready for your driveway.


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