December 20, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
29°F
test

Beet juice mixed in to deice roads

COLUMBUS – Some Ohio officials plan to use beet juice to beat road ice this winter.

In the state capital, Columbus has bought more than 1,000 gallons of beet juice to mix with brine for a deicing concoction that`s been used effectively elsewhere in the Midwest. When added to brine, water with a heavy salt concentration, the mixture freezes at a lower temperature than brine alone.

“We are going to be experimenting with it in various temperatures and various snow amounts,” said Mary Carran Webster, the city`s assistant public service director.

The city of Akron tested the solution last year, and just ordered 4,000 gallons of liquefied beet juice to start the winter.

The Ohio Department of Transportation also plans to try out the stuff this winter in the northwest corner of Summit County and parts of Lake and western Cuyahoga counties.

The biodegradable solution is better for cars, too, allowing reduced use of calcium chloride, which boosts the effect of salt.

“Calcium chloride is nasty,” said Paul Barnett, Akron`s public works bureau manager. “It`s wicked on cars, bridges, trucks.”

“It is a ‘green` treatment,” Webster said.

Columbus officials plan to wait until a snowfall of at least 1 inch is forecast and then try out the beet juice on some roadways in the brine pretreatment, then in the salt treatment after the snow falls.

The mixture isn`t sugary; otherwise it might lure cattle and other animals to treated roadways. Once sugar has been extracted from sugar beets, a waste product remains. Producers developed the deicing use after noticing that the waste never froze.

The beet juice is brown, and gives salt and the brine liquid a similar color.

“You will notice the difference as it is falling off the trucks,” Barnett said.

“When it snows, we may have to go over the same route three times applying salt and calcium chloride. According to the manufacturer, we should only have to go once (with the beet juice solution),” Webster said.