Ultrasonic de-icing could be used to stop Queensferry Crossing closures


ULTRASONIC de-icing and targeted vibration systems are being considered as methods to prevent the build-up of ice on the Queensferry Crossing.

The bridge between Edinburgh and Fife has experienced closures over the past two winters due to ice forming on overhead cables.

The Scottish Government confirmed that solutions to the ice build up are currently being considered. These include:

  • Cable sheath surface modifications to retain and control the accreted ice.
  • Mechanical vibration systems – targeted vibration systems.
  • Dynamic actuation – ultrasonic de-icing.
  • Robotics.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said, “These proposals are currently being reviewed by our new operating company, BEAR Scotland, and the most appropriate options will be considered for further investigations, testing and development.”

The installation of heated wires had previously been studied as a part of a ‘wide range’ of options considered. However, the Scottish Government said that the electrical power demand of such a system would be ‘very high’. It added that the efficiency of such a system is also unknown at this scale and the maintenance challenges of a complex heating system with no reasonable access are ‘significant’.

The spokesperson continued, “Trials of targeted heating systems have been undertaken by other bridge operators, but none have proven sufficiently efficient or reliable to warrant a full deployment.”