Products like calcium chloride help keep winter travelers safe, but when used to deice roads, these salts can be hard on the environment, and lead to corrosion in cars. Chloride-based deicing products even eat away at structures like bridges and roads, causing incalculable repair costs annually.
In the mid-1990s, a new kind of deicing product appeared in the marketplace. Used in conjunction with a conventional deicer to lower the freezing temperature and prevent ice from forming, this new deicer was renewable: it was made from the corn sugars that are a byproduct of ethanol and alcohol production.
It seemed ideal. Here was a novel method to reduce the amount of chloride-based products applied to roads in the winter, while at the same time creating a beneficial reuse for manufacturing byproducts. A market eager for sustainable chloride alternatives bought up the product, which was applied to salt stockpiles and stored in solution, ready to apply during storm events.
Unfortunately, the product presented a hidden problem: corn sugars spoil in storage, and that spoilage presented a new set of environmental challenges. After watching the development and real-life use of the product over the course of a few seasons, Univar's deicing team decided corn-based deicing alternatives weren't the right fit for our customers.
But that didn't stop them in their search for an organic and renewable deicer.
A Midwest company had developed and was working with a new organic deicer. It wasn't a corn byproduct this time, but was made of the residual waste left from extracting sugar from beets. The new beet-based deicer had all the green advantages of the corn product without the spoilage and related environmental issues posed by the corn deicer.
Univar acquired the rights to this beet-based deicer, and promotes it in the North American snow belt market as Ice Bite™. Now, agencies all over the northern United States and Canada treat their salt stores and road brines with Univar's Ice Bite.
The advantages? Adding Ice Bite to salt stockpiles and salt brines improves ice melting capacity, reduces corrosivity, and can reduce salt usage by as much as 30%. Ice Bite is a high performance anti-icer -- while a road treated with conventional brine solution will need several applications during a 24-hour period, a brine that's augmented with Ice Bite requires fewer applications.
It's economical. Fewer applications mean a reduction in chloride purchases. This also translates to fewer trips for the utility trucks that spread the deicer on the road, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint and lower labor costs.
(And because you're wondering, Ice Bite isn't red--it's a warm molasses brown.)
Conventional wisdom dictates that a company that sells chloride-based deicers wouldn't market a product that reduces the demand for them. But Univar isn't a conventional company. Our commitment to sustainability and innovation helped bring an environmentally friendly and cost-effective solution to the icy roads of winter.