Federal Highway Research Institute


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Temperature-controlled road

Geothermal energy as energy source

The limitation of the surface temperature shall improve road safety and extend the lifetime of roads.

Principle of the temperature-controlled road


The efficiency of a road is greatly impaired by climatic effects. On the one hand, black ice and hard-packed snow in winter months influence road safety, while on the other hand the lifetime of a pavement can be reduced by the impact of cold in the winter and heat in the summer. Controlling the temperature of the pavement is one way of counteracting these influences. What is more, controlling the road temperature saves enormous quantities of de-icing chemicals, an issue which can be especially significant in water conservation areas because of the lower ecological burden. Bearing in mind the need to conserve resources, only renewable sources of energy should be used. Geothermal energy is recommended here.


Principle of the temperature-controlled road

Different methods of controlling the temperature of the road surface are used in a number of sections on the duraBASt. These sections are fitted with sensor instruments to enable the effect of the temperature control to be traced on the basis of the measurement data.

For the first time, there is a comparison between temperature control by means of permeable layers and using pipe systems. The special feature with the permeable layers is that no additional installations – such as a pipe system – are needed in the pavement structure. This is expected to have a positive effect on the durability of the pavement structure and the implementation of maintenance work.

Preliminary investigations to analyse locations are required if the geothermal energy is to be used as a power source. The system technology and installation technology must furthermore be selected, and the necessary planning carried out for the implementation as a demonstrator.


The building and operation of the demonstrator on the duraBASt will demonstrate the operating principle of the temperature control. The windows will offer some insight into the way the temperature control works. Studies into the operation, the degree of efficiency and the economic viability of systems of this kind will accompany the scientific monitoring of the demonstrator.

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