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Research gets to grips with ice

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DRIVING CONDITIONS on icy roads could be improved as a result of new research now under way at Edinburgh University in the UK.

The project is studying the effects of materials like rubber and metals on ice surfaces using a specialist cold temperature electron microscope.

The skid properties of the ice is measured with a newly developed fitribometerfl which monitors precisely loaded and speeded materials as they are run across a circular ice pan at various temperatures.

The device allows researchers to measure the effectiveness of techniques like gritting.

The project is backed by the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council and has attracted sponsorship from car firms Ford and Jaguar.

The results will fill in gaps in knowledge about ice behaviour that could prove useful for road design, said research leader and physicist Dr Jane Black.

fiFor example grip is much better at low temperatures, fl she said. fiIt is the near melting condition which creates slippery surfaces because friction creates a lubricating water layer. fl

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