There has been a wide range of de-icer products brought to market over recent years all of which have failed to make any significant impact in mass usage on pedestrian and vehicular traffic areas.
There are specific financial and operational reasons for this as detailed below:
- The price differential between these products and rocksalt has always been too high to initiate change
- Many of the products have been designed for a specific use which does not match enough of the key requirements for Facilities Managers
- None of the products have been created specifically to meet the key requirements for mass use on pedestrian and vehicular traffic areas
- Poor de-icing properties
Organic products such as potassium and calcium magnesium acetate perform far better than rocksalt in terms of anti-corrosion, damage to soils, vegetation, surface water and wildlife.
Sodium acetate and calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) are dry formulations used as ice-melters on bridges and car parks. They are considered non-corrosive and are biodegradable, creating no adverse effects in runoff water. They change ice and snow into a slushy texture. Sodium acetate and CMA are effective from minus 10 to minus 15 degrees Celsius.
Potassium acetate is a liquid de-icer that contains no chlorides. It is less harmful to structural steel and reinforcing steel embedded in concrete. It readily biodegrades and has little environmental impact. Potassium acetate is effective to -15 degrees.
Reason for failure: Ultimately, this comes down to price, which is in the region of £2200 – £2500 per tonne.
Bio-succinates are non-chloride based liquid de-icers.
They are similar to acetates in performance with the additional benefits of being the least corrosive de-icer on concrete, asphalt, steel and aluminium. They are biodegradable and non-toxic to plants and animals. Primary use is for sensitive structures and close proximity to vegetation.
Reason for failure: Similar reason to acetates, the price cannot be justified at £1800 – £2200 per tonne.
Urea is a product which has been around for many years, however it is a slow dissolving product and its performance levels as a de-icer are poor. Its resultant residue is a macronutrient but due to its poor performance levels it has to be used in high volumes and this means high levels of nitrogen which is damaging to the environment. Its residue can also cause staining to a range of surfaces. Urea commands a hefty price tag of at £1200 plus per tonne for what is effectively a poor performing de-icer.
Reason for failure: A combination of price and performance. It has been banned by the US and UK airport authorities and the Environmental Protection Agency in the US.
Marine salt is pure sodium chloride and as such is not used by airports due to its highly corrosive nature. The wider ranging problems with marine salt are similar to rocksalt and it is more expensive.
Reason for failure: Price and corrosive properties.