Winner Named for Inaugural T.C. Graham Prize
Christopher Y. Tuan, Ph.D., P.E., F.ASCE, professor of civil engineering, and Lim Nguyen, Ph.D., P.E., professor of electrical and computer engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, won the 2016 T.C. Graham Prize for their development of a steel-based system that melts snow and ice on concrete surfaces.
Their system makes use of common steel shavings and fibers, which are mixed into wet concrete and then poured over a series of steel bars. Once energized, the system conducts a mild current, generating just enough heat to keep precipitation above the freezing point. The system has significant potential in cold-weather transportation infrastructure.
The professors stated that the calculation of operational cost of implementation for their systems at Roca Spur Bridge in Lincoln, Neb., to be just US$85/day during a snowstorm, whereas it would cost upwards of US$1,000 each time a snow truck is dispatched.
Christopher Tuan first began his research in the early 1990s when he worked as contractor for the U.S. Air Force Civil Engineering Support Agency and was given the high-priority task of mitigating icy runways for heavy aircraft landing. He said, "I've devoted more than 20 years of my life to perfecting this technology, and winning the T.C. Graham Prize is truly 'electrifying.'"
The system has additional applications, such as in the construction of buildings that need to be shielded from electromagnetic pulses.
They estimate that widespread adoption of their system could generate 90 million tons per year of new steel demand.
Tuan and Nguyen's proposal was one of 16 submitted from around the world. From that group, three finalists were ultimately selected, and they presented their proposals during a live video conference to the Contest Jury on 1 September 2016. During the conference, each finalist had 10 minutes to present their submission to the jury, followed by a brief question-and-answer session. Chris Tuan presented the proposal to the contest jury.
The Contest Jury consisted of John Brett, president and chief executive officer, ArcelorMittal USA; John Ferriola, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Nucor Corp.; Mario Longhi, president and chief executive officer, United States Steel Corporation; Mark Millett, president and chief executive officer, Steel Dynamics Inc.; and Roger Newport, chief executive officer, AK Steel Corp.
The prize was presented to Chris Tuan on 8 November 2016 at the annual AIST Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., USA.