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Innovative solutions to provide environmentally acceptable deicing
Each winter maintenance season, concerns arise regarding the use of NaCl (both
granular and brine) for anti-icing purposes.
Along with these concerns are requests for the agency to use some
alternative chemical and/or prove that the use of NaCl at their current
application rates is not resulting in environmental harm. Yet, at the same time, the use of NaCl by some
agencies has increased drastically in the recent past, in response to the
escalation of public expectations related to roadway level of service during
and immediately following a winter maintenance event.
Additionally, over the past several years there's been a dramatic uptick in the building of
new or replacement infrastructure. With costs in the billions of dollars and expectations
of 100 plus year service lives, corrosion from deicers is a big concern. Review of research into alternative deicing
materials shows studies from the 1990's that are still the state of the art.
Alternative materials are available, but they are generally perceived as prohibitively
expensive (from a first cost basis anyhow) and many have their own associated
There also is a need to coordinate and standardize the effects of investigating and
mitigating the impacts of deicers on surface and ground waters so that this
environmental risk can be better understood and managed, across the diverse
road weather regions/scenarios and diverse water/soil contexts.
Increasing the use of salt brine and other liquids have been purported to help reduce
overall deicer use, but manufacturing liquids could put a strain on local potable
water supplies and could prevent some departments of transportation (DOTs) from expanding the use of liquids
are a few pressing needs in the area of environmentally acceptable deicing
- Development of NaCl application limit
thresholds (e.g., total wintertime pounds per lane mile) below which no environmental
harm – primarily to surface and groundwater sources – is expected. This threshold could be based on annual precipitation
amounts and local environmental conditions.
It would serve as a measuring tool for the general public and possibly
as a goal for the DOTs.
- Guidelines for investigating and
mitigating the impacts of highway deicers to the surrounding water bodies and
- Research and evaluations on pre-wetting
materials and other strategies to reduce overall salt usage.
- Development of commercially viable alternative
- Using reclaimed water as an alternative
source in the production of salt brine.
- Precise measurement of residual
deicers. Knowing precisely how much salt
is left on the road might lead to less actions of salting, and therefore, reduced
negative environmental impacts.
- Balancing environmental and
corrosion concerns with increasing performance and safety expectations.
- Reduce deicing costs by DOTs.
- Reduce impacts to the environment.
DOTs will use the information gained from this research to determine the best deicing procedures, materials, and equipment so that they can improve snow
fighting efforts. This will allow DOTs to keep the roads open which
improves mobility for the public.
|Sponsoring Committee:||AKR40, Winter Maintenance
|Research Period:||12 - 24 months|
|RNS Developer:||Joe Horton, Tina Greenfield|
|Index Terms:||Deicing, Sustainable development, Environmental impacts, Winter maintenance, Deicing chemicals, Brines, Sodium chloride, Alternatives analysis, |
Maintenance and Preservation
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