New research explored the environmental impacts of an alternative to road salt—potassium acetate, which is effective on ice at lower temperatures. Minnesota’s winter roads have been effectively treated for decades with chloride-based mixtures for anti-icing and deicing. Salt, however, corrodes steel in vehicles and infrastructure. Additionally, chloride runoff harms the aquatic environment. For example, up to 70% of road salt applied on Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area roads ends up in groundwater aquifers and nearby lakes, many of which exceed regulatory limits for chloride concentrations.Continue reading Environmental Evaluations of Potassium Acetate Used as a Road Salt Alternative
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New Project: Potassium Acetate As a Salt Alternative
This winter, MnDOT snowplow operators will test and document their experience using potassium acetate (KAc) during severely cold weather as a possible alternative to the commonly used deicing material sodium chloride.
MnDOT maintenance staff have used potassium acetate in the Duluth area as a deicing alternative in several locations (Bong Bridge, Blatnik Bridge, I-35 tunnels, and I-35 at Thompson Hill) with anecdotal success. Advantages of KAc include reducing chlorides runoff into water, a lower effective deicing temperature (approximately -20F) than salt or brine, and less corrosion to vehicles and public infrastructure.
KAc will be used on four plows at select locations in the MnDOT District 1 Duluth sub-area. Crews will document the effectiveness of KAc in removing snow and ice pack at temperatures of minus 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit and reducing the time it takes plows to achieve and maintain bare pavement during severely cold temperatures.
In addition to evaluating potassium acetate as an alternative de-icing chemical, researchers will develop application guidelines and material handling requirements.
Researchers from CTC & Associates will review the 2018 Transportation Research Syntheses, Field Usage of Alternative Deicers for Snow and Ice Control, and identify any additional information that is publicly available regarding national and international use of KAc as a de-icing and anti-icing agent. The focus will be on successful uses of the material (material concentration and application rates, weather conditions, timing, etc.) by highway agencies or transferable practices by airports.
MnDOT District 1 personnel will conduct field tests of KAc on selected plow routes during the winter of 2018-2019 and document key data about the amount of material used, locations, equipment, storm characteristics, pavement conditions and other elements. Researchers will assist MnDOT with the design of the field study, the creation of a data gathering tools to be used by plow drivers, monitoring of data quality during the study, analysis of data gathered during the winter season, and writing a report presenting the study conclusions.
Watch for new developments on this project. Other Minnesota transportation research can be found at MnDOT.gov/research.