Mark Hurley

ORCID Identifier(s)


Graduation Semester and Year




Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Xinbao Yu


Geothermal energy has always been available as a renewable thermal reserve, however, only recently has it been unlocked as a potential source of energy to de-ice bridges and roadways. The ability to efficiently extract the geothermal reserves has been accomplished with the advent of new technology. Each progressing year, the refinement of technology has led to a reduction in the input required to achieve a desired output. For the case of bridge de-icing, the extracted input of thermal energy must exceed the required demands to permit de-icing. The conventional approach to de-icing (using chemicals, salt, and sand) works as a mediator of the freeing point to melt ice, however, there is absence of thermal energy. Therefore, various methods have been devised to generate heat using different sources of energy with the intended goal of efficient de-icing. The focus for this thesis is to experimentally simulate the derivation of geothermal energy via a hydronic loop de-icing system. A small-scale bridge slab was subjected to multiple winter scenarios in a controlled setting to obtain a prediction of the thermal reserves required to permit de-icing. An additional slab was placed in an outdoor environment to test the performance of the system under cyclic conditions over the span of a winter period. The vertical and lateral thermal distribution across the slab was determined to gauge the temperature variation in reference to the pipe geometry. The thermal minimum was also determined to obtain the maximum heat input requirement. The negative influence of sustained wind was studied to attain a relationship of thermal demands as a function of wind magnitude. A thermal rebound study is provided to determine the recovery rate of thermal energy in respect to a negative incremental change in wind magnitude. By compiling the steady-state response of the slab for a wide range of winter scenarios and creating an error bound estimate, the thermal demands could be predicted with a higher degree of precision. The final aim is to formulate a design criterion to estimate the required inlet temperature to achieve efficient ice removal across the entire slab area.


Geothermal, Bridge de-icing, Thermal rebound, Heat transfer, Hydronic loops


Civil and Environmental Engineering | Civil Engineering | Engineering


Degree granted by The University of Texas at Arlington